R Ashwin might have gone wicketless in the first innings, but there was no way the offspinner was going to leave the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium without leaving his mark with the ball. The first wicket, in this first Test match between India and the West Indies in Antigua, for Ashwin came in his 25th over of the match, and from there India's strike bowler ran through the West Indies batting order to help India wrap up a comprehensive innings victory on Sunday.
India needed nine wickets to clinch a win with two days of the Test match remaining, and while the first session was hampered a bit by inclement weather, the real dark clouds gathered over the West Indies in the second session as Ashwin (25-8-83-7) rained down on the batsmen with his bag of tricks.
In the end, West Indies were bowled out for 231 in 78 overs, to hand India a victory by an innings and 92 runs and all the confidence in the world going into the second Test match in Jamaica next Saturday.
With the West Indies starting Day 4 on 21/1, trailing their opponents by 302 runs, India started on a perfect note, as Umesh Yadav picked up the wicket of Darren Bravo (10, 43b, 2x4), the man who has a terrific record with the bat when WI are forced to follow on. After a couple of deliveries that were angled in, Yadav got one to go the other way, Bravo threw his bat at it, but the ball skewed to gully with Ajinkya Rahane taking a splendid catch diving to his left.
West Indies refused to throw in the towel without a fight from there, however, with Rajendra Chandrika and Marlon Samuels frustrating the India bowlers for 22 overs, from which 67 runs were yielded. However, Ashwin would break the partnership with his wizardry, as an inside-edge off Chandrika (31, 108b, 5x4) was taken well behind the wickets by Wriddhiman Saha.
There was no stopping the wicket-train from there, as India's leading bowler dismissed Jermaine Blackwood, Samuels (50, 85b, 11x4), off a peach of a delivery that straightened after pitching, and Roston Chase, with Mishra also joining in on the fun with the wicket of Shane Dowrich, who struck a handsome half-century in the first innings.
Ashwin would then complete his first five-for outside the sub-continent with a wonderful offspinner that bamboozled Jason Holder (16, 25b, 1x4, 1x6) to strike the top of leg-stump, leaving West Indies on 132/8.
There would be no folding from the West Indies No.9 and No.10 batsmen, though, as Carlos Brathwaite (51 n.o., 82b, 3x4, 1x6), who was out for a golden duck in the first innings, and Devendra Bishoo, who showed plenty of guts as a nightwatchman last time out as well, put on the highest partnership of the West Indies innings to take the match into the final session on Day 4.
The partnership, worth 95 runs in 24 overs, was finally broken by Ashwin in the sixth over of the final session, as Bishoo (45, 74b, 6x4, 1x6) hit one straight to midwicket, with the offspinner, fittingly taking the final wicket of the match as well, in the final ball of the same over, as Shannon Gabriel was clean bowled.
Fall of wickets: West Indies second innings: 2/1, 0.5 overs (Kraigg Brathwaite); 21/2, 13.5 overs (Darren Bravo); 88/3, 35.5 overs (Rajendra Chandrika); 92/4, 37.5 overs (Jermaine Blackwood); 101/5, 41.5 overs (Marlon Samuels); 106/6, 45.4 overs (Roston Chase); 120/7, 49 overs (Shane Dowrich); 132/8, 53.2 overs (Jason Holder); 227/9, 77.3 overs (Devendra Bishoo); 231/10, 78 overs (Shannon Gabriel).