SAINT LUCIA: India routed the West Indies to complete a series-clinching victory by the comprehensive margin of 237 runs just before tea on the final day of the third Test in St Lucia on Saturday.
West Indies were set the improbable target of 346 to win at the Darren Sammy National Stadium after the Indians declared their second innings at 217 for seven 40 minutes into the day’s play.
Only Darren Bravo with 59 displayed any form of meaningful resistance with the visitors’ potent mix of pace and spin proving too much for Caribbean batsmen technically and temperamentally ill-equipped to cope with the challenge.
And in the end they gave yet another inept batting display, being bowled out for 108, their second-lowest total ever in a Test against India.
Seamer Mohammed Shami spearheaded the assault in taking three for 11 but all the bowlers made key contributions in consigning the West Indies to defeat.
It not only gave India a 2-0 series lead with one match left in Port of Spain next week, but also represented the first time ever that they had won more than a single Test match in 11 series in the Caribbean dating back to their first visit to the region in 1952.
“We’ve done quite a few firsts in the last year as a Test team,” said Indian captain Virat Kohli in acknowledging his team’s historic achievement.
“Credit goes to the entire squad because we recognised where we went wrong in Jamaica and corrected those things here.”
In the lone bright spot for the West Indies on the day, fast-medium bowler Miguel Cummins reaped a bountiful harvest in the morning, taking all four wickets as India pushed for quick runs to facilitate a declaration.
Cummins finished with innings figures of six for 48 for a nine-wicket match haul.
Ajinkya Rahane kept the runs flowing as the wickets tumbled around him in reaching an unbeaten 78.
Frustrated by rain and West Indian defiance in settling for a draw in the second Test, the Indian strike bowlers put the home side immediately on the back foot at the start of their second innings with both openers prised out by the fifth over.
Leon Johnson departed without scoring, fending a lifting delivery from Shami into the hands of Rohit Sharma at forward short-leg.
His opening partner, Kraigg Brathwaite, fell in the very next over as an inswinger from first-innings destroyer Bhuvneshwar Kumar trapped him leg-before.
Ishant Sharma then took two important wickets either side of the lunch interval, uprooting Marlon Samuels’ off-stump and also comprehensively bowling Roston Chase, the man whose maiden Test hundred on the last day in Kingston was fundamental to the West Indies saving that fixture.
Jermaine Blackwood’s impetuosity got the better of him when he was stumped off Ravindra Jadeja and the ignominious slide to another embarrassing defeat continued when Shane Dowrich edged Shami to Kohli at second slip.
Jason Holder’s misery as West Indies captain was only magnified when he was run out seeking a non-existent single.
Then when Bravo, who battled for almost three hours to hold the innings together, gave a bat-pad catch to Rohit Sharma off Shami to be eighth out, any lingering hope of a miraculous escape for the home side disappeared.
“It’s a tough question. We just need to show a lot more fight,” said Holder when queried after the match about the repeated batting failures.
“There’s no easy way to fix it. The batsmen have to put a higher price on their wickets.”
Ravichandran Ashwin, named man of the match for his hundred with the bat and contribution with the ball, consigned Alzarri Joseph to the indignity of a pair on debut before Jadeja claimed the final wicket of Shannon Gabriel to trigger the Indian celebrations.