Rattling along at the rate of 5.5 runs an over, their left-handed trio of Brian Lara, Jimmy Adams and Keith Arthurton, gave the West Indies the scent of a remarkable victory on the fourth day of the third and final Test here yesterday.
They gained a lead of 56 after finally disposing of India's frustrating last-wicket partnership quarter of an hour into the day, after which Lara with his highest score of the tour, 91 off 104 balls, and Adams and Athurton adding an unbroken 145 in 106 minutes set up a declaration that allowed their bowlers 15 overs at the end of the day and another 90 today to bowl India out under the target of 358.
On an ideal batting pitch that yielded an average of 50 runs per wicket over the first three innings the West Indies would be hard pressed to secure the win that would level the series.
But they have already got rid of the openers for 37 - Manoj Prabhakar through injury and Navjot Sidhu more genuinely.
Prabhaker, a century maker in the first innings, was felled by Courtney Walsh's steep bouncer the last ball of the opening over . He was cut on his nose as the ball crashed through the grille of his helmet - he had to have five stitches inserted in the wound, was hospitalised and would only bat in the direst of emergencies Sidhu, unsettled by the hostility of Walsh and Ken Benjamin was lbw to the latter for 11.
But Sachin Tendulkar, India's premier batsman, remained unbeaten and the outcome of the match and the series rested very much on his broad bat.
Obliged to open the innings instead of Stuart Williams who was too weak from a stomach disorder to do so, Lara provided the immediate momentum to the West Indies innings with four of his six boundaries , two polls and two cuts in the lively Srinath's second over and the pace never slackened.
His assault had the Indians seeking the refuge of a drawn out over-rate of 12 an hour and widely scattered fields but neither could staunch the flow of runs.
The first four overs yielded 41 and Lara had made almost two-thirds of the runs off his own bat when he gave himself out The edge from the left arm spinner Raju was so thin that umpire Venkataraghavan was shaking his head to the appeal but Lara himself walked away from the crease.
It was a gesture so rare in the modern age of cynical professionalism to be worth every honour that Lara has had heaped on him this year.
(Fourth day; West Indies won toss)
WREST INDIES - First innings 443 (J.C. Adams 174 no, A.C. Cummins 50, A. Kumble 4-90, S.L.V. Raju 3-73).
INDIA - First innings (Overnight: 379 for 9)
J Srinath not out 52
S L V Raju c Murray b Benjamin 15
Extras (b5, lb3, w1, nb17) 26
Bowling: Walsh 35-4-89-2, Benjamin 35.3-8-106-3, Cuffy 22-4-80-3, Cummins 16-2-45-2, Hooper 17-1-50-0, Adams 3-1-9-0.
WEST INDIES - Second innings P V Simmons run out 25
B C Lara c Mongia b Raju 91
C L Hooper lbw b Raju 20
J C Adams not out 78
K L T Arthurton not out 70
Extras (b10, lb4, nb3) 17
Total (3 wkts dec) 301
Fall: 1-85, 2-135, 3-156.
Bowling: Prabhakar 9-1-34-0, Srinath 20-0-95-0, Kumble 7-0-56-0, Raju 12.3-0-60-2, Kapoor 7-1-32-0, Tendulkar 1-0-10-0.
INDIA - Second innings M Prabhakar retd hurt 0
N S Sidhu lbw b Benjamin 11
S V Manjrekar not out 14
S R Tendulkar not out 6
Extras (lb4, nb2) 6
Total (for 1) 37
Bowling (to date): Walsh 8-4-10-0, Benjamin 7-2-23-1.Reuse content