Sixth Test Match

INDIA v WEST INDIES

As the series was still undecided, the duration of the final Test was extended to six days, but to no avail. With the pitch slow and with rain lopping off almost two days of play, not even the first innings were completed. India, winning the toss, batted through the first two days and well into the afternoon of the third. They declared at 644 for seven, breaking the record for their highest Test score for the second time in successive matches. However, only the size of their total was impressive. Their batting, for the most part, lacked lustre.

Viswanath batted with polish for 179, the best score of his Test career. But the centuries scored by Gaekwad and Mohinder Amarnath were featureless and too slow to be of true benefit to their side. Scoring 250, Bacchus prevented West Indies from being overwhelmed by the sheer size of their opponents' total, and his score was only 6 short of the highest by a West Indian (Rohan Kanhai) against India. Bacchus, who hit 33 4s in his innings of eight and a half hours, was playing with so much authority and brilliance when he got out in an unfortunate manner that there was every promise of his reaching a triple-century. Swivelling round to sweep, he lost his foothold on the greasy crease and broke his wicket. He gave chances at 76 and 104, but he batted with discipline and a sense of responsibility which indicated how much he had matured during the tour.

West Indies, needing 445 to avoid follow-on, were 137 for two at the end of the third day, having lost Gomes five minutes before the close. Jumadeen came in as a night-watchman and stayed till after lunch on the fourth day, having helped Bacchus add 129 runs. That Jumadeen - originally meant to bat at number eleven - was able to make 56 and resist for the best part of two and half hours was an indictment of the play of some of the main West Indies batsmen; it was also a commentary on a pitch which was utterly lifeless. Jumadeen and Kallicharran both fell in close succession to the second new ball, leaving West Indies in a critical state. Then Murray, dogged and determined, stayed with Bacchus until bad light and drizzle brought play to a close forty-five minutes early.

The evening drizzle was the prelude to a series of heavy downpours which washed out the fifth day's play and delayed the start of the sixth until after lunch. When play resumed, West Indies needed another 72 to avoid the follow-on, with six wickets in hand. The roller kept the soaked clay pitch quiet for a while; and by the time the damp came through to assist the bowlers, the gap had narrowed. Indeed it narrowed quickly, for the brilliant Bacchus lost no opportunity to exploit the openings left by aggressive field-setting.

West Indies wanted only 17 runs to make India bat again, when Bacchus became the first casualty of the short last day. Still, there was drama and excitement before West Indies were fully free of danger. Shivnarine's impetuosity made him an immediate victim, and with the ball now turning and popping, Murray - who had batted valiantly for over three and a half hours to score 44 - and Parry were caught off bat and pad. West Indies had barely avoided the follow-on when bad light ran down the curtain on the slow-moving Test match and on the series.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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