Bravo, Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul made India work hard on the fourth day, and took West Indies to their highest score following on.
India preferred to wait for mistakes, which said a lot about the huge lead they had and the state of the pitch: a slow turner. When West Indies did make the mistake, Rahul Dravid was superb at slip to kickstart a collapse of four for 20.
Given their recent form, not many were expecting a big fightback from West Indies, and according to unconfirmed reports Kolkata’s Jadhavpur University Complex, where Sourav Ganguly is playing a Ranji Trophy match, attracted a bigger crowd than Eden Gardens. They missed an attractive century from Bravo. Resuming on 38 he kept batting like he did yesterday. With the fields spread he kept picking the singles, and whenever MS Dhoni looked to attack he sent the fields back with calculated risks. He added 15 fours and a six to his boundary count on the fourth day.
India began the day trying to keep things quiet until the new ball became due. The pitch had become slow, and allowed the batsmen enough time to recover even if they were beaten in the flight. There was only one hiccup, potentially a big one, in the 18 overs before the new ball was taken. Bravo pushed towards mid-off and set off immediately, Chanderpaul never moved. With the batsmen now capable of whispering to each other at the non-striker’s end, Gambhir threw on the run. A weak and wide throw ensued, allowing Bravo to get back.
The new ball immediately produced more excitement. Bravo hit the first over for two fours, but also edged one. Soft hands and the slowness of the pitch, though, made sure it didn’t carry to slip. In the fourth over with the new ball, against the run of play, Chanderpaul got a bottom edge when he looked to push Umesh Yadav. A sterner examination followed for Marlon Samuels. Ishant Sharma hit him on the forearm with a short one, and was nearly played on soon.
At the other end Bravo went strong. With the new ball likely to travel faster, his strike-rate improved too. Against the new ball, he went from 67 to 100 in 35 balls. For the rare few who might not have noticed the resemblance, upon reaching the century he leapt in the air just like Lara used to. By now Samuels had become surer, and despite India’s defensive fields, the two kept scoring swiftly.
With the deficit in two figures, and once again against the run of play, Bravo opened the face to one from Ojha. The ball didn’t turn as much as expected, and went low to Dravid’s right at first slip. Pouched. Bravo and Lara after 12 Tests: 941 runs at 47.05. India were back now. Six overs later Ojha produced an edge from Carlton Baugh. Dravid dived full length to his right and completed the low catch. Perhaps his batting has rubbed off onto his catching form in the slips, which hasn’t quite been up to his usual standards over the last two years.
Next it was Samuels’ turn to make the fatal mistake. He stayed back to a quick offbreak from R Ashwin, and was hit in front, deep in the crease, 16 short of what would have been another attractive century. An unorthodox offspinner, Ashwin proceeded to produce the classical offie’s dismissal, when he got one to drift away from Kemar Roach, and then sneak through the gap produced.
Darren Sammy swung a few hits, but he only delayed the inevitable. Minutes before tea, Umesh Yadav finished the game and gave India the series by rattling the stumps with successive balls.