Gros Islet: After sealing an emphatic Test series victory over the West Indies, India captain Virat Kohli was quick to praise Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha for their crucial first-innings partnership that rescued the tourists from plunging into more trouble at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in St. Lucia.
Put in to bat first, the Indian batsmen had struggled against the West Indies bowlers, who used the conditions efficiently to leave the tourists reeling at 126 for five in testing conditions on day one.Ashwin, who scored a superb century in Antigua, then once again came to rescue, stitching a 213-run partnership with wicketkeeper-batsman Saha (104) for the sixth wicket to help India finish first innings at 353.
"I think everyone was hungry to change things around after Jamaica, because we understood that we have the momentum, we are playing good cricket, we are on top in every Test match, so we need to finish things off. I am really glad people stepped up at the right times and did the job for us. Even Saha and Ashwin in the first innings, that was probably the most important partnership in the series. We had quite a few but that for me stands out till now in terms of where the series has gone. We have been able to seal the game because of the effort of those two. If we lost two more wickets, you never know, we wouldn`t have been on top in the Test match. Lot of credit goes to those two as well," Kohli told reporters after taking an unassailable 2-0 lead following a 237-run win over the West Indies in the third Test.
A draw loomed after the entire third day`s play was washed out, however, it was Bhuvneshwar Kumar`s artistic spell in the first innings that swung the way for the Indians. He bagged a five-wicket haul, triggered a middle-order collapse after the West Indies looked solid at 202 for three just after lunch.
Resuming their second innings on 157 for 3 on the final day, India, led by Ajinkya Rahane (78), added 60 runs in nine overs before declaring at 217 for seven while setting a victory target of 346 for the West Indies.However, the hosts struggled against the tourists` pacemen and were bowled out meekly for 108.
"Bhuvneshwar Kumar was amazing in the afternoon - picking up 5 wickets for 28 runs on that wicket in 24 overs was a great spell. That really changed things around for us. Not to forget first innings (knocks from) Wriddhiman Saha and Ravichandran Ashwin - the way they batted was really top class Test cricket as well. So the team is really happy. Obviously we are really glad that we could execute our plans and wrap up the series here," the captain added after wrapping up his second overseas series victory.
With the series in the bag, India will now head to Trinidad for the inconsequential fourth Test with the aim to top the rankings.