First Test Match

India v West Indies

At Bombay, December 13, 14, 16, 17, 18. West Indies won by six wickets.

West Indies went into this Test match with Hall's fitness in doubt after his fall in the nets before the start of the tour. Nurse was kept out by a finger injury; but he was not missed, for Lloyd, who stood in for him, made a remarkable debut, scoring 82 and 78 not out, besides fielding brilliantly in the deep.

The performance of this bespectacled left-hander, who hit the ball with great power off the back foot, and the all-round brilliance of Sobers and Holford were the highlights of West Indies' victory against defiant opposition.

India scored 241 for six on the first day after Hall, in his opening spell, had struck quick blows, three wickets falling for only 14. The recovery was initiated by Pataudi and Durani, who put on 93 for the fourth wicket, playing the pace of Hall, Griffith and Sobers with reassuring confidence. Then Borde mastered the spinners and took out his bat for a faultless 120. However, had Durani not been dropped at extra-cover, off a full-toss from Sobers when only 11, India would again have been in trouble.

With the second new ball already 12 overs and 44 runs old, there was promise of India reaching a respectable score on the second day. But an imprudent cut by Borde off the first ball he received led to his downfall. Then Griffith, bowling with better control than on the first day, took two wickets, and India were 260 for nine.

Venkataraghavan and Chandrasekhar staged a gallant last-ditch struggle, the former batting with greater accomplishment than some of the more recognised batsmen.

The West Indies' first encounter with Chandrasekhar was not pleasant, but thanks to dropped catches, they finished the second day with 208 for four, all the wickets having fallen to the freak wrist-spinner. Hunte and Lloyd, whose partnership of 110 for the fourth wicket provided the main substance of this score, both had escapes, the more significant being the slip chance that Lloyd offered during a period of great uncertainly at the start of his innings. Hunte offered a stumping chance towards the end of the day.

He survived another early on the third morning and reached his only century of the rubber. Then the dejected Indian attack had to cope with the ruthless efficiency of Sobers, who scored 50, with eight 4's, and a determined stand of 83 for the seventh wicket between Holford and Hendriks.

India, 125 behind, started well, Jaisimha and Sardesai putting on 74 for the first wicket. With the pitch losing pace, the terror of Hall and Griffith was diminished. After this splendid beginning, they batted indifferently, giving the spinners the upper hand. Pataudi provided some relief, but a heavy defeat was still on the cards.

Kunderan and Venkataraghavan rose to the occasion with a valiant stand of 95, a record for the ninth wicket by India. Kunderan meted out heavy punishment to every bowler he encountered and scored 79 in only ninety-two minutes, with fifteen 4's.

West Indies needed only 192 to win, but the pitch was now yielding a lot to spin, and till Sobers came in at 90 for four, it looked as if they would be fully extended.

© John Wisden & Co