Along the way Laxman passed 1000 runs in chases, including an eighth score of fifty or more. It was also the third time since last summer that Laxman was in the middle at the successful completion of a 200-plus chase.
From the moment Darren Sammy slipped down leg twice in the first over of the day, going for eight runs, West Indies began losing whatever little grip they had on the match. Fidel Edwards rejuvenated them momentarily with a reversing inswinger to send Dravid back, but Laxman announced his arrival with two leg-glanced boundaries. Forewarned of the reverse, Laxman played late, without much back lift, and kept the accurate ones from Edwards out.
Helping India was the fact that Edwards, and West Indies as a bowling unit, didn’t have the control to exercise the perfect mix of offence and defence required in defending mid-range totals. Laxman continued to ease India through the chase, and when he punched and flicked Edwards for two boundaries in the 56th over, they reached 200 and the contest was all but over. In the first hour of play India smashed 56 runs, including 11 fours. The possibility of Tendulkar’s 100th international hundred – overnight he needed 67 out of the 124 India required – was a little thought in the corner of the mind, and that is where it seemed it would remain.
However, the last three of those 11 boundaries were hit by Tendulkar in successive Ravi Rampaul overs, a flick to square leg, a picture-perfect cover drive and a push – a mere push – through point. Tendulkar now needed 41 out of the remaining 67 runs, and with the game relatively secure Laxman eased up a bit. Tendulkar kept picking the boundaries, and Laxman singles, until the equation came down to 24 out of 43 runs required. Then Tendulkar went to pull a Devendra Bishoo googly, and was deceived by the low bounce. Rod Tucker made another correct lbw call in what has been a good match for him.
Along with Tendulkar went any thoughts of extending the first session to get a result before the lunch break. Laxman and Yuvraj Singh didn’t want to do anything stupid.
Sammy removed Yuvraj with a shooter when the scores were level and he nearly got MS Dhoni with another grubber next ball, but that could only delay India’s third-highest successful chase. West Indies were left with memories of the Jamaica Test earlier this year, when they had caught India cold but failed to convert it into a Test win.