Toss: West Indies. Test debut: West Indies - W.W.Daniel.
This was a stormy Test, with accusations from the Indians of persistent intimidatory bowling after three of their batsmen were put out of action in their first innings.
However, the Test will not be remembered only for the controversy. The cricket for the first three days was highly combative, promising a much keener finish.
The virgin pitch had an immense bearing on the tactics of the West Indies as also the result. The bounce at each end was vastly different and even at one particular end was variable because of an undulation on a fast bowler's length, the ball rising from it to alarming heights.
It was the unpredictability of bounce that contributed to the unsafe manner in which the Indian batsmen took evasive action and, consequently, suffered nasty injuries.
This is not to say that there was no short-pitched bowling. There was a surfeit of it -- overdone, in fact, to the extent where the umpires should have intervened. A lot of the short-pitched bowling was delivered by Holding from round the wicket to minimise the batsman's scope of drawing away from his stumps.
The success of the West Indian tactics, questionable though they were, was owed to the talent, speed and stamina of Holding, who took seven wickets in the match.
The first day, shortened by bad light, belonged to India. They scored 178 for one, a position that must have encouraged them, for already Jumadeen was seen to spin the odd ball. The opening stand between Gavaskar and Gaekwad put on 136, lasting almost until tea. Attacked on the leg stump, Gavaskar did not look as convincing as in the two previous Tests and had two escapes, at 24 and 36, before Holding yorked him for 66.
Gaekwad came through the day with 60, needing great courage to survive, for he took several blows on the body and on the arms.
India's problems set in the following morning when, at 199, the new ball was taken. In three overs with it, Holding reduced India to 216 for three, having Mohinder Amarnath and Viswanath caught at backward short-leg. Viswanath was caught off the glove, the impact leaving a finger both fractured and dislocated.
The fall of the fourth wicket at 280 would suggest that the West Indies offensive had been checked. But, in fact, two batsmen, Patel and Gaekwad, had meanwhile retired with injuries that put them out of the match.
Patel, facing Holder, took his eye off the ball and edged it on to his mouth. Gaekwad was struck just above the left ear, having ducked into a ball that was not too short, but the bounce of which bore no relation to its length. In this instance, the irregularity in the pitch seemed responsible.
India declared fifteen minutes before tea, at 306 for six, not because they considered themselves strongly placed but because Bedi wished to protect himself and Chandrasekhar, both key bowlers, from the risk of injury. The one consolation India derived before the innings ended was the sight of young Vengsarkar, only 19, batting through the upheavals with impressive skill and great calm.
West Indies finished the second day at 82 without loss but on the third, India, inspired by some assistance from the pitch, bowled superbly and when Julien was sixth out at 217, it looked as though the first innings would end with honours even. But as the bowlers tired, Murray and Holding took control and added 107 for the seventh wicket, the partnership stretching into the fourth day. Nor was this stand the end of West Indies' resistance. Holder played sensibly for 36 and the last two wickets added 46.
When Holding had Gavaskar caught at short-leg in the third over, India's spirit was broken. They slid to 97 for five in less than three hours and at that point, the innings closed as five batsmen in all absented themselves because of injury. In addition to Viswanath, Patel and Gaekwad, who were hurt during the Indians' first innings, Bedi and Chandrasekhar had damaged fingers while attempting return catches during the West Indies' innings.
At first it was thought that Bedi had declared again -- with India only 12 runs in front -- and it was only after West Indies had won that a statement was issued by Bedi that the Indian innings should be recorded as completed.