Third Test Match

West Indies v India

At the behest of the captains, frustrated by featherbeds, a pitch was prepared with more grass than usual at Kensington Oval. It was also dry and hard and the seven fast bowlers - all six-footers - were encouraged by its progressively uneven bounce and lateral movement. The pitch was widely criticised but produced an intense match and an unforgettable finale: India, requiring just 120 for their first victory in the West Indies since 1975-76, collapsed to their lowest total in the Caribbean amid bacchanalian celebrations. With Walsh forced out by a strained hamstring, Lara became the sixth West Indian to win his first Test as captain.

India read the obvious signs. They brought in fast bowler Ganesh in place of spinner Joshi and chose to bowl. The three pace bowlers duly worked through the batting but could not dislodge Chanderpaul, who entered in the third over and remained unbeaten after nearly seven and a half hours, during which he struck 12 fours and offered no chance. His 137 followed a sequence of 13 scores between 50 and 82 in his previous 18 Tests. His relief was evident as he kissed the pitch. After five wickets fell for 131, he had critical support from Browne, back to keep wicket instead of Murray, and Ambrose.

Tendulkar was near his assertive best as he and Dravid built a commanding position by adding 170. Punishing short and wide bowling and taking advantage of attacking fields, Tendulkar unleashed his full repetoire to score a hooked six off Rose and 14 fours. It took Campbell's leaping catch at gully to dismiss him, for 92, off what television suggested was a no-ball by Bishop; Rose rounded off the innings.

India led by a seemingly insignificant 21 but promptly dismissed Williams and Chanderpaul. Lara counter-attacked boldly until falling, for the second time in the match, to a slip catch off Prasad, who took eight wickets in his most threatening performance of the tour. The fast bowlers offered no respite. West Indies were only 86 ahead when last man Dillon joined Ambrose for the innings's highest partnership, 33. It seemed a merry irrelevance.

West Indies had never defended such a meagre target but reminded themselves of their triumph here five years earlier, when South Africa, 122 for two at the start of the last day needing another 79, lost their last eight for 26. India, needing just 120, similarly capitulated next morning against irresistible fast bowling on a capricious pitch.

Rose undermined them with three wickets in an opening burst; Bishop and Ambrose completed the demolition. While Sidhu fended a flier off his throat to slip and Dravid and Azharuddin succumbed to balls that came through at shin height, Tendulkar could not blame the pitch when he edged Bishop's out-swinger low to the left of the solitary slip, Lara. The rest went quietly, amid the Barbadian excitement.

© John Wisden & Co