Second Test Match

New Year's Day's a riot

This match will find a place in history of Test cricket not because of the cricket it produced, but because of the horrible riot that broke out on the second day. The authorities had sold more tickets than there were seats and inevitably the surplus spectators tried to find accommodation on the grass round the boundaries. The constabulary mounted a baton charge, the crowd launched a counter-attack and when the outnumbered police force fled, the crowd burnt down the stands and the furniture. It was indeed a frightening scene and the players, worried about their own safety, were reluctant to continue the match, which came pretty close to being abandoned till assurances were received from high governmental quarters that there would be no further incidents.

The pitch was under-prepared and the toss virtually decided the outcome. West Indies on the first day made 212 for 4. Suspecting that batting in the second innings would be difficult, they approached the task with caution and another factor which affected the scoring rate was that the ball did not come onto the bat. Kanhai's 78 not out was a prominent feature of the day's play. He started uneasily and was twice dropped while he made 40. These errors were particularly regrettable because otherwise the Indian fielding showed a marked improvement on the Bombay performance.

The second day's play was written off because of the riot and the match was resumed after a two day interval, the third day being the rest day. The loss of a full day's play caused the West Indies to look for runs more eagerly. With Hendricks out cheaply, Sobers who came in as late as number seven, had to play with an added sense of haste, for he had only the bowlers to support him. Hall was an able ally. Sobers attacked vigorously and scored 70 in eighty minutes.

The lack of pace in the pitch blunted the edge of the fast bowling, but Sobers in both his two spinning styles, and, Gibbs turned the ball venomously. Moreover, the ball came off at uneven heights and India did well to finish the third day at 89 for 1. At this stage they needed only 102 to save the follow on and had they averted it they could have struggled to a draw. Next morning, Surti played across the line to Sobers and was LBW, Patundi went to an imprudent hook and Borde ran himself out. Thus India collapsed and were all out just after lunch, with a deficit of 223. Dispirited and no doubt overawed by the state of the pitch, they again batted poorly and only just managed to carry the struggle into the last day. Baig's illness with a high temperature was a further handicap. The West Indies victory was a great personal triumph for Sobers and Gibbs, who each took seven wickets.

© John Wisden & Co