First Test Match


The victory shook India badly while it improved the image of England, the professional competence of whose players in the earlier matches had impressed everyone. A dramatic spell by Arnold marked the opening day's play. After Wadekar had elected to bat on a grassless pitch, the England bowler, in ninety minutes of late swing and sustained pace, dismissed Parkar, making his test debut, Wadekar and Gavaskar, and coming on again after lunch picked up the wicket of Sardesai. A well-planned move, based on Parkar's penchant for the hook, enabled Arnold to have him caught at long leg by Pocock; Wadekar was bowled leg stump by a late, sharp inswinger and Gavaskar paid the penalty for hitting across the line of a lifting delivery to offer Greig, second slip, a chest high catch. Arnold scored these successes in 19 balls for nine runs. Sardesai, missed earlier by Pocock at gully off Cottam, was bowled by an off-cutter from Arnold. Viswanath batted with complete ease, making crisp strokes, but he too fell when, committed to a cut he snicked a low ball from Greig to Knott. Engineer was the next to go to make the score 80 for six. There was a fighting stand of 43 between Abid Ali and Solkar, ended by Greig dismissing the latter through a catch at the wicket off a ball running away from the bat. There was no further loss of batsmen for the day, but the Indian innings concluded for 173 runs the next morning. Arnold took two more wickets to finish with six for 45.

England made a comfortable start to their innings through Amiss and Wood and had 61 runs on the board when leg-spinner Chandrasekhar, in a spell more thrilling than Arnold's, crashed through England's batting. It looked nothing short of magic when in eight balls he dismissed Wood, Fletcher and Lewis between lunch and tea and Knott after the interval. Wood was caught at leg-slip, Fletcher was bowled leg-stump with a superb slanted delivery, while Lewis, missing a pull, was lbw. Bedi, who was supporting Chandrasekhar admirably with his classic left-arm spin bowling, had meanwhile enticed Amiss out to be stumped by Engineer. There was a slight recovery through Greig and Denness when Bedi struck again, having the latter caught at the wicket, the umpire's decision surprising the batsman. At tea the score was 123 for five, but without any addition to it, Knott fell to a brilliant one-handed catch by Solkar at short leg off Chandrasekhar. Greig, the only batsman not to be harassed by Chandrasekhar, and Arnold took the score to 151 without further loss.

On the third day, England took a small lead with the tailenders giving determined support to Greig. He had batted with much pluck and determination and on this morning hit Chandrasekhar for a splendid six over extra-cover. Chandrasekhar, however, continued his good work and took the remaining four wickets, finishing with his best Test figures of eight for 79. The excitement continued when India commenced its second innings with Pocock and Underwood, the spinners, striking at the batsmen. Parkar played lovely, sometimes risky, strokes and Gavaskar gave a better start to the innings than on the opening day but once the latter fell, off a pad and bat catch to Greig, towering over him at silly point, off Underwood, the trouble started. Arnold trapped Parkar lbw with a low ball; Pocock had Wadekar stumped while Sardesai, like Gavaskar, was caught by Greig off Underwood. The left-arm spinner struck another vital blow by bowling Viswanath with an armer.

Joined by Engineer, Solkar not only halted the collapse, but, resuming next morning, the pair were concerned in a century stand for the sixth wicket. Engineer attacked the bowling with splendid shots while Solkar gave him quiet support. The match seemed to drift away from England when these two were at the crease but a sharp collapse followed Engineer's dismissal. The last four wickets could manage only 27 runs. Towards the final minutes of the innings Solkar opened out in fine style and scored 75 runs, the best for India in the match.

England needed 207 to win. Considering the trend so far it was felt that it would not be easy to get them, a thought which got some confirmation when Bedi dismissed Amiss and Fletcher -- his 100th wicket in Tests -- with only 20 runs on the board. But Denness, prepared to play his shots, and Wood, who was missed at silly mid-off by Venkataraghavan, retrieved the position. Denness was dismissed before close of play and England finished the day still needing 101 runs with seven wickets in hand.

England achieved their objective for the fall of one more wicket, shortly after lunch on the last day, though the dismissal of Wood in Bedi's first over, caught in the leg-trap by Solkar, provided a great start to the day for India. Lewis, joined by Greig, took his side to a fine win. Though Bedi restricted them by his tight bowling, both batted without much trouble. Lewis, with 70 and a victory to his credit, enjoyed a memorable first Test, while Greig was not out for the second time in the match, for 40 runs.

© John Wisden & Co