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The wide margin that eventually separated the sides belied the close struggle for supremacy over the first two days. The balance was tilted by a long and sound, if dour, innings by Lloyd. Apart from his effort, the match was almost completely dominated by the bowlers. This was surprising, as the pitch was bare and slow - features which prompted West Indies to include a specialist spinner, the hitherto uncapped Harper, for the first time in the series. Roberts also played his first Test of the rubber. India made one change, leaving out Madan Lal to bring back Amarnath, who had hinted that his form was returning by scoring 55 in the one-day international at Indore.
India won the toss and batted, only to run into instant trouble against Marshall who, with the first ball of the match, a short one of blinding speed, had Gavaskar caught from a reflex action shot. He also accounted for Gaekwad and Amarnath in a fiery opening spell, but his withdrawal from the attack brought the Indians no relief for Holding, too, was roused. India were 63 for six before the rot was stopped by an 82-runs partnership between Kapil Dev and Binny. Kapil Dev, who batted with customary aggression while making 69 in 73 balls, was lucky to be missed at 5 and 48. India's recovery was sustained by Kirmani, who last out for 49. By scattering Kirmani's stumps to take his third wicket of the innings, Roberts became only the third West Indian - after Gibbs and Sobers - to claim 200 Test wickets.
The start to West Indies' innings was also shaky, if not quite as dramatic as India's. The first four wickets went for 42, of which 25 were made with speed and arrogance by Greenidge before he mistimed a square cut off Binny, who had been the main target of his aggression. The three other wickets were taken by Kapil Dev, Richards and Dujon edging his out-swinger while Haynes fell victim to his off-cutter. At 88 Gomes was bowled by a turning ball from Yadav, and though Lloyd and Marshall put on 87 for the sixth wicket, West Indies were eight down before they passed India's small total. That their eventual lead amounted to 136 was thanks to a stand of 161 between Lloyd and Roberts, a record for West Indies' ninth wicket against any country.
Roberts, who at one stage played 45 balls without scoring, made his best Test score and looked safe enough for Lloyd to bat without taking risks. Lloyd's 161 occupied 469 minutes, in which time he hit only twelve 4s.
India had only eleven overs to face before the end of the third day, but by the close, at 36 for five, they were on the brink of defeat. Holding and Marshall again bowled exceptionally well. Among the batsmen out was Gavaskar who, despite India's grim situation, batted in a fatally carefree fashion.