Fourth Test Match


Toss: India. Test debuts: India - N.D.Hirwani, W.V.Raman, A.K.Sharma; West Indies - P.V.Simmons.

India's winning margin of 255 runs was the most decisive of their six victories against West Indies. Its main author was a new cap in Hirwani, a bespectacled, nineteen-year-old legspinner, who had the assistance of an under-prepared pitch which afforded turn from the opening day. In the circumstances, the scales were tipped heavily in India's favour when Shastri, captaining for the first time in a Test match, won the toss. Hirwani captured eight wickets in each innings to equal the Australian R.A.L Massie's feat of taking sixteen wickets on his début, against England at Lord's in 1972. If Hirwani was able to give the ball air, as he did and challenge the batsmen to counter-attack, it was because of India's first-innings total of 382, which was owed principally to a dashing 109 by Kapil Dev, scored off only 119 balls and including seventeen fours.

Although the ball turned extravagantly, the seven other spinners in the match, while bowling 154 overs between them could not take more than seven wickets. The collapse of the West Indians for scores of 184 and 160, the second time in 156 minutes, not only was indicative of their mistrust of the pitch but also underlined the vulnerability of the new generation of their batsmen to leg-spin. Certainly, in conditions which put a premium on experience, they missed Greenidge, who was kept out by an injured thumb. He was replaced by Simmons, hitherto uncapped. Besides Hirwani, India included two newcomers in the all-rounders Raman and Ajay Sharma, and they too played vital roles in shaping India's victory, their first over West Indies since 1978-79.

In India's first innings, Ajay Sharma batted for two hours and assisted a rampant Kapil Dev in adding 113 for the sixth wicket. It was an essential partnership, for despite a confident 69 from Arul Lal, India were in the shadows at 156 for five when Kapil Dev came to the wicket. The recovery was sustained and India totalled 382. Although conditions were of no help to pace bowlers, Walsh again bowled superbly. The only significant contributions in West Indies' reply came from Richardson, who stayed for two hours, Richards whose 68 included eight fours, and Dujon. Richards, taking all manner of chances, produced some astounding strokes but needed generous measures of luck to play in that vein and survive. Hirwani bowled him on the third morning, when in seven overs and three balls he took all five remaining wickets at a cost of 26 runs as West Indies just sneaked past the follow-on figure.

With almost three days available in which to force home their advantage, India took their time to increase their lead. Added caution was compelled by the loss of three wickets for 37, two of them to Walsh, who again distinguished himself. The mainstay of the innings was Raman, the débutante, who showed immense maturity in making 83 spread over 257 minutes, although while he was batting with Azharuddin, their 87 came in almost even time. West Indies, in their second innings, batted as if resigned to their lot. Except for Haynes, all of them flung their bats in desperate fashion; only Logie, whose 67 off 62 balls was quite spectacular, and Butts attacked with any measure of success, adding 59 in 43 minutes. The pitch, if a nightmare for the batsmen, made equally high demands on the wicket-keepers, and More deserved much credit for stumping six batsmen in the match, five of them in the second innings. Both figures were a record for stumpings in a Test.

Close of play: First day, India 308-6 (Kapil Dev 104*, R. J. Shastri 5*); Second day, West Indies 147-5 (I. V. A. Richards 62*, P. J. L. Dujon 4*); Third day, India 181-4 (W. V. Raman 82*, Ajay Sharma 22*).

© John Wisden & Co