India win series, lose Tendulkar

The maestro's final international outing comes with victory and an understandable outpouring of emotion.

The last walk back is always the toughest.

| Match pictures | Farewell SRT | Tendulkar wows Wankhede | One last time

As India were performing the last rites on yet another spineless West Indian innings, Anjali Tendulkar, taking in her husband’s final day in international cricket from the stands, admitted that he belonged first to Mumbai and India, and only then to his family. It was an admission she needn’t have made – for Tendulkar became part of the national discourse far earlier than he gave himself up to nuptial ties. On Saturday, although the maestro wasn’t required to bat again in his side’s demolition of the visitors by an innings and 126 runs, Tendulkar patrolled the boundary with the zeal of a debutant, storming into the circle to celebrate each time a wicket fell.

There was this hope that an irritating partnership at some stage may compel MS Dhoni to throw the ball to Tendulkar and let him work those fast leg-spinners that have broken many a nagging stand over the years. The nagging stand proved to be beyond the West Indies. But at 162/8, with the first session extended in view of an impending Indian victory, Tendulkar got to turn his arm over for twelve deliveries. Alas, a wicket eluded him. But Man of the Match Pragyan Ojha (5/49, 10/89 for the match) and R. Ashwin (4/89) had done enough to set up India's sixth successive victory in Tests, which was also Tendulkar's 72nd with the side.

No sooner did Mohammad Shami flatten last man Shannon Gabriel's furniture with a late in-swinger, Tendulkar raced to the pitch and uprooted a stump. He was then accorded what Harsha Bhogle termed a 'mobile Guard of Honour' on his was back, the floppy hat concealing an outpouring of emotion that a hand to the eye revealed. He paused for a moment at the top of the stairs to wave the stump at the crowd, before disappearing from view.

Poor series

Tendulkar's farewell aside, the series was a remarkably poor advertisement for Test cricket, a misnomer of a contest between mis-matched teams:  the Windies did not last three days at either Kolkata or Mumbai and failed to reach 250 in four innings. They resumed on 42/3 on Saturday morning and were shot out in less than 35 overs. Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels began in a tearing hurry – as if a few overs of lusty hitting was all that stood between them and safety. Four boundaries came off an Ashwin over, and Gayle massacred Ojha for a towering six.

It was when the total (too grandiose a term, really, for the West Indian score!) reached 74 – precisely as many as Tendulkar had made in his last essay – that the slide was initiated.

Another slide

Samuels, influenced by god-only-knows what chemical reactions in his brain, sprung out of the crease to Ojha. The ball spun away, beat the batsman, and Dhoni did the rest. Having asserted momentary supremacy with a huge hit, Gayle (35) failed to capitalize, and perished to the edge against a faster one from the left-arm spinner, Dhoni snapping up another good catch behind the wicket.

Ojha’s third of the morning came the easiest. Narsingh Deonarine, having established his place in the almanacs, popped back the simplest of return catches, the Windies descending to 90/6, the match heading for a hasty termination even before lunch on the third day. 

Shivnarine Chanderpaul, playing a most neglected 150th Test match, and Denesh Ramdin delayed the inevitable with a 68-run alliance, before Chanderpaul was trapped in front by Ashwin with one that hurried straight on. Darren Sammy became Ojha's fifth (and 10th of the match). But you don't want to go into the gory details. Not here. Not in this series. Maybe against South Africa in a month's time.