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At Madras, January 12, 13, 14, 16. India won by three wickets, with a day to spare. It was a curious result in view of the pitch being fast and most generous in the matter of bounce. Consequently, West Indies held a considerable advantage with their fuller and more powerful pace attack. Another factor in their favour was that Gavaskar, who had aggregated 567 runs in the three previous Tests, failed in both innings. It mattered also that for the first time in a dozen years. India went into a Test match without any of their three great match-winning bowlers, Bedi, Chandrasekhar and Prasanna. The balance was tipped by India's superior fielding. They took their catches consistently whereas West Indies dropped more than they held.
Initially, West Indies frittered away the advantage of winning the toss and batting first on a pitch not reputed for its durability. Halfway through the opening day they were 68 for six, Kapil Dev beginning the collapse and Venkataraghavan, bowling thoughtfully and accurately, sustaining the pressure. Then Kallicharran and Parry rallied them with a stand of 100, which was ended when Parry was unnecessarily run out. He made only 12, but he provided the pause in the collapse, which Kallicharran turned to advantage. He scored 82 in this time and was out immediately after Parry, for 98. Phillip, with help from Holder and Clarke, put the finishing touches to the recovery. The West Indies' total of 228 looked a lot healthier when Phillip had Gavaskar caught at short leg off the last ball of the day, with only 10 runs on the board.
If India managed a lead of 27, it was because the West Indians dropped catches, at least three of which proved vital. Viswanath came in at 11 for two and batted five and a half hours for his 124, surviving chances at 64 and 79. Gaekwad, who shared with him an invaluable stand of 70, was put down early in his innings.
The match exploded into a bumper war on the third day, during which fifteen wickets fell. The Indians for once gave as good as they got. Although there was provision in the playing conditions for a check on intimidatory bowling, the umpires did not invoke the rules. West Indies were bowled out for only 151, and would have been even further outclassed but for a classic 91, including thirteen 4s, by Gomes. The next highest score was 15, by Greenidge and Murray. India's pace bowlers took three wickets apiece, but Venkataraghavan was the most successful bowler with four, including the vital wickets of Kallicharran and Gomes. By the close of play, however, the contest was wide open for India, needing 125 to win, were 31 for three.
Their task on the fourth day was lightened somewhat by the pitch having lost pace - the result of mowing as well as the hot southern sun having drawn out moisture during the rest day. Fortunes ebbed and flowed during the morning. Although India made early gains West Indies looked the more likely winners after Holder had removed Viswanath and Gaekwad during the last hour before lunch, and when Phillip accounted for Narasimha Rao immediately after the break, India were reduced to 84 for six.
Although handicapped by a high fever, Kapil Dev clinched the issue, coming in at number eight to score 26 of the 41 runs wanted. West Indies sought retribution from him and Ghavri, and Phillip and Clarke delivered bumpers in increasing quantity. They got Ghavri when only 10 runs were required, but by bowling short too consistently, they played into the hands of Kapil Dev, who was more vulnerable against a good length.