Test cricket continued to delight all of its fans this week as India and West Indies put on a show to rival that of Cape Town and Johannesburg during their match in Mumbai.
The third Test between the two countries had seemed destined for a bore draw after only 22 wickets had fallen on the first four days, but it was enlivened on the fifth as R Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha found life from the pitch where it had previously been lacking, and India stuttered under the pressure of their fourth innings run chase, with 17 wickets falling on the last day and the match ending as a draw with the scores level – only the second time this had happened in the history of the game.
Therefore it is from this match that this week’s Cricket World Player of the Week must come. Among the batsmen it was Darren Bravo who impressed the most with a first innings 166 for the West Indies as well as top-scoring in their shambolic second innings; in doing so earning the praise of Brian Lara as well as yet more comparisons with the great man.
However, without the bowlers, this match would already have been consigned to the annals of Test history. The Indian spin duo of Ashwin and Ojha took 16 of the 20 West Indian wickets between them in the match, with Ojha returning figures of six for 47 in the second innings and Ashwin four for 34.
Despite this, it is Ashwin who takes this week’s award because he also took five wickets in the West Indian first innings when the pitch was much less helpful, and also registered the small matter of his maiden Test century from number eight in India’s first innings.
Ashwin, a finger spinner in every sense of the word, had been a regular presence in India’s limited-overs sides before making his Test debut earlier in the series at the expense of Harbhajan Singh. On top of his unrelenting accuracy, the 25 year-old from Chennai, possesses a high action that enables him to extract surprising bounce from any surface - a key factor in his first innings haul at the Wankhede – as well as having exceptionally long fingers that allow him to bowl his famous carrom ball – a delivery that is best described as a finger-flicked leg-break.
© Cricket World 2011