First Test Match

West Indies v India

Toss: West Indies. Test debuts: West Indies - A.G.Barrett, J.M.Noreiga; India - K.Jayantilal, P.Krisnammurthy.

Both sides passed through depressing crises and their recoveries produced enthralling cricket, but the finish was subdued. Water had seeped through the covers at one end following rain which wiped out all the first day's play. Sobers was thus prompted to field on winning the toss. India, who went into the match without Gavaskar and Viswanath, both injured, began on a note of collapse. They slumped to 75 for five, their endemic weakness against pace bowling being again in evidence. Wickets had fallen, mostly at the drier and faster end of the pitch. Then Sardesai and Solkar, playing in his first Test match abroad, provided the first stage of the recovery, putting on 137 runs. Their partnership lasted into the third day. Sardesai, on the fringe of his century when Sobers removed Solkar for 61, began to take chances to get as many runs as possible, but when his ninth-wicket partner, Prasanna, showed signs of making a fight, Sardesai again dug himself in and the pair added 122. Sardesai did not yield till after tea and scored 212, his second Test double-century. He batted just over eight hours and hit one 6 and seventeen 4s. He gave two chances, shortly after completing his century. They were offered during the period when he was trying to push things along for fear of running out of partners.

West Indies started safely enough, Fredericks and Camacho putting on 73 runs, but they went within 17 runs of each other and, at 119, Lloyd was run out through Kanhai's misjudgment. Although the Indian spinners were already extracting turn from a pitch that had slowed considerably, Sobers and Kanhai batted fluently to add 64 for the fourth wicket. They seemed to overlook the fact that with the match reduced to four days, the follow-on margin was lowered to 150. Believing the threat had passed, Kanhai chanced his arm, and was promptly caught. Shortly afterwards, Sobers was taken at short-leg and West Indies got into such a panic that their remaining five wickets went for only 15 runs.

India enforced the follow-on (for the first time in a Test against the West Indies) with a lead of 170 and when Bedi and Venkataraghavan had both openers caught in close positions before the end of the penultimate day, India looked like winning particularly as Carew, who was injured, was not expected to play any significant part. Kanhai batted solidly and Lloyd had just gone past his 50 in masterly fashion when he was again run out. West Indies were then still in the red and another cheap wicket could have put India within reach of winning. Sobers, however, played a superb innings of 93. For half his stay he batted with a thigh injury. By the time he left, the match had gone out of India's grip. Kanhai, displaying sound technique against the spinning ball, went on to make 158 not out, having batted six and a half hours and hit seventeen 4s.

© John Wisden & Co