<
>

Gavaskar leaves Bradman behind - 1983-84

Thirsting for revenge for the shock defeat sustained in the World Cup in England in the summer, the West Indies came over to India in 1983-84 with a definite plan - to mow India down with an incessant dose of pace bowling. That they succeeded in their mission is borne out by the results - a 3-0 victory in the six-match Test series and a clean sweep of all the five one-day internationals.

Gavaskar despite having to endure the rare sight of Marshall knocking the bat out of his hands with a super-fast delivery at Kanpur, the humiliation of some low scores and a couple of ducks , including falling to the first ball of a Test match for the second time, recovered to tally 505 runs in the series.

The West Indies were very much the top team in world cricket in the eighties and they came to India in the midst of their world record - going 27 Tests without defeat. They were indeed a formidable side, probably the strongest ever from the Caribbean to visit India.
CricInfo

The batting started with Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes and continued with Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd and Larry Gomes. In Jeff Dujon, they had arguably the best wicket-keeper batsman in West Indian cricket history. And this was backed up by a menacing quintet of fast bowlers in Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts Winston Davis and Wayne Daniel.
Earlier in the year, West Indies had beaten India 2-0 in a five-match series at home. And any hopes that India would do better at home were squashed by West Indies winning the first Test by an innings and 83 runs just after lunch on the fourth day. It was a meek surrender by the Indians and a quick demolition job by the visitors, and but for the odd match or two or some sporadic gallant batting and bowling performances by the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Kapil Dev, the stage was set for the rest of the series.

Even as the West Indies were on the rampage in the Tests, it was hoped that India would at least do well in the one-day games. But this was a West Indian side that had come with certain objectives. And armed to the teeth, they wasted little time in working out their strategy to perfection.

First the batsmen performed according to reputation. Lloyd (2), Greenidge and Richards got hundreds while Dujon, the best player of spin bowling in the side, came up with some timely knocks. Such was his improvement that after starting the series at No 7, he was by the end of the contest, walking out at No 5, ahead of Lloyd. And while there was no really big total - the highest was 454 compiled in the first Test - the batting never really disappointed. They gave enough runs for the bowlers to work on.

The pacemen, headed by Marshall, time and again ripped through the Indian batting. Marshall was easily the player of the series. His awesome pace and bounce proved to be disconcerting for the leading Indian batsmen and he even caused problems for Gavaskar. He finished the series with 33 wickets and his comrade-in-arms Holding was not very far behind, with 30 wickets. All in all, there little doubt at the end of the series that India had lost to a far superior all-round side, shrewdly led by the benign figure of Lloyd.

The Indians might have finished on the losing side but they did have their few moments in the sunshine. The batting in the three Tests at New Delhi, Bombay and Madras, all of which were drawn, was of a high order, symbolised by totals of 464, 463 and 451 for eight declared. Unfortunately at the other end of the pendulum were totals of 164, 103 and 90 at Kanpur, Ahmedabad and Calcutta.

Gavaskar despite having to endure the rare sight of Marshall knocking the bat out of his hands with a super-fast delivery at Kanpur, the humiliation of some low scores and a couple of ducks , including falling to the first ball of a Test match for the second time, recovered to tally 505 runs in the series.

During it, he set numerous records passing Geoff Boycott's aggregate and becoming the top run-getter in Tests, equaling and then surpassing Don Bradman's long-standing record of 29 hundreds, becoming the first to score either 13 hundreds or three double centuries against West Indies. And his score of 236 not out in the final Test at Madras was the highest score for India in Test cricket, surpassing another longstanding record standing in the name of Vinoo Mankad, who got 231 against New Zealand in 1955-56, also at Madras but at the Corporation stadium.

Vengsarkar got two hundreds while Roger Binny, Ravi Shastri and Syed Kirmani came up with timely contributions. But the batting lacked consistency and this was responsible for the three heavy defeats, the others being sustained at Ahmedabad (by 138 runs) and Calcutta (by an innings and 46 runs), both with more than a day to spare.

Another problem was the bowling. It hinged too much on Kapil Dev and the captain performed heroically to take 29 wickets. But he received little support, though, Maninder Singh, at the end of only his first year in international cricket, showed some promise. Kapil had a spell of nine for 83 in the second innings at Ahmedabad, making him the third Indian bowler after Subhash Gupte and Jasu Patel to take nine wickets in a Test.