Second Test

West Indies v India

At Port-of-Spain, April 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. India won by 37 runs. Toss: West Indies. Test debut: A. Ratra.

True to form, the Queen's Park Oval staged another nail-biter. As against South Africa a year earlier, the West Indians carried high hopes of victory into the last day. Then, they had needed another 200, with nine wickets left; this time, they were 131 for two, needing 182 more, with Lara and Hooper together. Again, they fell short; India completed their third Test victory in the Caribbean at the same venue as their earlier two, in 1970-71 and 1975-76.

They had laid the groundwork on the first day, scoring 262 for four after Hooper chose to bowl. Following a difficult start - on six, he survived a confident claim for a catch at the wicket off Sanford - Tendulkar settled to build his 29th Test hundred, which put him level with Don Bradman, though he had taken 93 Tests to Bradman's 52. Only Sunil Gavaskar, with 34, had more. It was a resolute rather than commanding innings; Dravid looked the more assertive in a partnership of 124. Tendulkar added only four on the second morning before Cuffy ended his six-hour stay, prompting a decline in which the last six wickets went down for 63. Laxman remained unbeaten on 69, having made the most of a life on ten the previous afternoon, when Lara missed him at slip off the second new ball.

West Indies were making a strong response at 179 for three, with Lara batting more like himself. Then, as the shadows lengthened, three wickets fell for one run inside ten balls. Hooper resisted stoutly for three hours, but had little gainful support next morning as India gained a lead of 94. They were ebbing again at 56 for four, when Sanford dismissed Tendulkar fourth ball for nought, but Ganguly and Laxman batted through to the close and an hour into the fourth day, adding 149 to restore the balance. The new ball tilted it yet again: once Laxman chopped Dillon back into his stumps, the last six wickets crashed for 13 runs in ten overs.

West Indies needed 313 to win, a tall but not overwhelming order. They lost Williams early and Gayle retired with cramp, but Sarwan and Lara looked set to see out the day. They had added 57 when Sarwan dabbed a straight ball from Harbhajan Singh to slip; shortly afterwards, bad light ended play.

The stage was set for Lara to convert his overnight 40 into a first Test hundred on his home ground, in front of a crowd of 10,000. But his gesture to the usually boisterous Trini Posse Stand to mute its music was evidence of nerves; he spent an uncertain hour adding seven, before Nehra's fourth ball of the day induced a catch to first slip. Hooper pulled to mid-wicket in Nehra's next over, and the Indians whooped with joy.

Chanderpaul and the returning Gayle kept them anxiously waiting just over two hours for their next wicket. The stand raised 73 amid mounting tension; if only India could separate the two, they would be through to the long tail. At 237, Gayle's loose drive presented a catch to cover; West Indies needed 76, and Chanderpaul could find no one to help him get more than halfway. His resistance should have ended four overs after tea, when Chanderpaul was reprieved by third umpire Nicholls's drawn-out rejection of a low, but certainly fair, wicket-keeper's catch; he was still there nine overs later, when last man Cuffy was caught at gully to give India their first Test win in the Caribbean since 1975-76, when they made 406 for four, the highest fourth-innings total to win a Test.

Man of the Match: V. V. S. Laxman.
Close of play: First day, India 262-4 (Tendulkar 113, Laxman 21); Second day, West Indies 197-6 (Hooper 30, Dillon 6); Third day, India 165-4 (Ganguly 48, Laxman 60); Fourth day, West Indies 131-2 (Lara 40, Hooper 1).

© John Wisden & Co