First Test Match

India v England

England overwhelmed India in spite of having started disastrously after winning the toss and batting first. Soon they were 66 for four.

The match was remarkable for a striking Test d├ębut by Lever. He joined the select band of only five Englishmen who had taken ten wickets on first appearance. A further distinction for Lever was an innings of 53.

Though Lever's contribution was conspicuous, England's sweeping victory was very much a team effort. Amiss played a marathon innings of 179. At precisely the right stage, Knott gave England momentum with an aggressive 75. The spin bowling of Underwood and Greig played a vital part in India's second innings. The value of England's catching could not be minimised.

England proved better equipped in every department of the game and although they did not particularly need the aid of luck, it came to them when a ball had to be changed, early in India's first innings.

The original went out of shape in the eleventh over and the replacement turned out to be a rogue which Lever, a bowler with no particular reputation as a swinger, even in English conditions, caused to deviate with devastating effect.

The first morning was disastrous for England. Patel brilliantly ran out Brearley, Bedi trapped Barlow before he could get over a nervous start in his first Test and Chandrasekhar made short work of Woolmer and Fletcher, the latter with a faster ball of full length.

Greig, next in, played extremely well and with Amiss added 60 for a fifth wicket. Then he was undone by a ball from Venkataraghavan that kept low. Even on the first morning, the bounce was uneven and the ball turned.

England's problems were now behind them. Knott threw the Indian bowling completely out of gear as, moving his feet, he cut, swept and pulled with great impudence. He was almost impossible to contain, but it was a masterly and artful piece of bowling by Bedi that ultimately had him stumped. Apart from one outburst against Chandrasekhar, Amiss batted ponderously and ended the day with 109 not in a total of 239 for six.

India had their opportunities to remove him. Quite early, he played a totally uncontrolled hook off a bumper from Ghavri. Then just before tea, when he was in his 90's, Amiss drove Bedi uppishly into the covers, but Patel started late for the catch, probably losing the flight of the ball against a difficult background.

England's total was swelled on the next day through a partnership of 94 for the eighth wicket between Amiss and Lever. Amiss, who had contracted an illness (chest congestion) overnight was out to a tired stroke for 179, having batted eight and a half hours. He hit one 6 and twenty-two 4's.

Lever, playing straight and sensibly, proved extremely hard to dislodge. He stayed for more than half an hour after Amiss was out and the last two wickets added 24 runs.

India began their reply with a flourish. Seizing on anything short or over-pitched, Gavaskar and Gaekwad put on 43 with ease before Lever struck with the rogue ball. He removed Gaekwad, Amarnath, Viswanath and Venkataraghavan, the night watchman, in 16 balls.

There was the suggestion of a recovery as the overnight not outs, Gavaskar and Patel, put on 44 on the following morning, but the last four wickets slumped for only 23 runs.

The start of the fourth day delayed by one hundred minutes because of fog. Yet, India, who followed on 259 runs behind, only just managed to carry the struggle into the final day.

Underwood bowled quite superbly and Greig, with offspinners, struck two vital blows. India's resistance was based on a skilful innings of 71 by Gavaskar, whose class and technique stood out prominently in his absorbing duel with Underwood.

© John Wisden & Co