Third Test Match


The closing stages, brought to an end by bad light, were highly exciting, West Indies saving themselves with only one wicket standing. Eleven balls remained to be bowled when the umpires decided that the light was impossible. Justice was done when the West Indians remained unbeaten, for the four overs preceding the stoppage were played in abysmal conditions. India damaged their chances of winning with a dropped slip catch and also by not hurrying through their overs in the final hour, although it was abundantly clear that the light would fail.

India won the toss for the first time in the series, but did not take advantage of the change in luck. Considering the easy pace of the pitch, their first-day score of 225 for eight represented a poor performance. Three of these wickets were claimed with the second new ball in the space of ten deliveries by Phillip. Among his victims was Gavaskar, who made a chanceless 107. A spirited 61 off 62 balls by Kapil Dev, and Venkataraghavan's stubborn resistance enabled India to scramble to 300 on the following morning.

West Indies led India by only 27 runs. They must have hoped for a much bigger advantage when they were 203 for three at the end of the second day, with Kallicharran unbeaten and in good form. The sound foundation had been laid by a century from Williams, who had two escapes before he had scored 15. Although he batted over three and a half hours, he never really looked settled. On the third day, Kallicharran was dismissed quite early by Venkataraghavan, thanks to a rousing short-leg catch by débutant Narasimha Rao. Kallicharran's dismissal threw the innings into disarray, and the collapse wrought by Venkataraghavan would have been greater but for a valuable stand of 83 between Shivnarine and Phillip.

In their second innings, India suffered an early casualty, but did not lose another wicket before Gavaskar declared, halfway between lunch and tea on the fourth day, leaving West Indies to make 335 in 365 minutes. Gavaskar remained unbeaten with 182 and became the first batsman in Test history to score two separate hundreds in a match three times. Vengsarkar's 157 not out was his first Test century and their unfinished partnership of 344, over six hours nineteen minutes, became the new record for India's second wicket against all countries. Nevertheless, a little more enterprise on their part would have enhanced India's chances of forcing home their advantage.

The inability of West Indies' bowlers to break through for over six hours was proof enough that the pitch remained in a sound state, and under the circumstances, Gavaskar's declaration was a bold one. West Indies clearly did not have the confidence to take up the challenge, and any plans they might have had for a late bid were wrecked by the dismissal of Bacchus and Gomes for only 45 runs. Furthermore, Williams had damaged a hamstring and could bat only in an emergency.

The emergency certainly did arise. At tea on the last day, West Indies seemed in a safe enough position with 143 for four. They lost one more wicket when the mandatory overs started, thirty-five minutes later. The new ball was taken in the second over of the last hour, and with it Ghavri took India to the brink of victory. He soon took three wickets and, in what transpired to be his last over, Marshall was dropped by Viswanath, at first slip. That was in the twelfth over. Gavaskar was forced to take Ghavri off at this point, for the light was already dim and had the pace bowler continued, the umpires would have been forced to call off play. The dropped chance by Viswanath prolonged the ninth-wicket stand by four overs, and during the last wicket partnership between Shivnarine - who batted most pluckily for over two hours - and Clarke, the last man faced eight deliveries. Time was lost during the closing stages by the movement of spectators behind the bowler's arm, when Shivnarine justifiably refused to take strike.

© John Wisden & Co