First Test Match


At Bombay, November 28, 29, December 1, 2, 3. India won by eight wickets. A combination of bad batting in England's first innings and erratic umpiring by Swaroop Kishen in their second helped India end a sequence of 31 Tests without a win in a fast-moving and entertaining match. Their previous victory had also been at the Wankhede Stadium and at England's expense, just over three years earlier when Fletcher's team lost by 128 runs and protested about the umpiring.

In that respect the games were not dissimiliar. Where they differed was that on this occasion England won the toss and through Fowler and Robinson - the latter, with Cowdrey, was one of two new caps - were building a satisfactory opening when Fowler was caught and bowled off a full toss. This was Sivaramakrishnan's first wicket in Test cricket and started a collapse from which England never recovered, seven wickets falling for 68 on a slow pitch of even bounce. India were in danger of losing their advantage when, through batting more in keeping with one-day cricket, they became 156 for five in the 34th over. But Shastri survived a straightforward stumping chance at 38 off Edmonds, and with Kirmani turned the game with an Indian seventh-wicket record stand of 235.

When they were out to successive balls, caught by Lamb at deep mid wicket, both had made maiden hundreds against England without offering a further chance. Kirmani, first out, hit ten 4s in 319 minutes, Shastri seventeen 4s and a 6 in 390 minutes, a composed innings that confirmed he could hold his Test place on his batting skill alone. Cowans bowled some fast overs, surprising Gavaskar with his bounce. But England's attack in general was short of penetration, Ellison suffering from his inexperience in using the new ball. In the light of Ellison's selection ahead of Allott (who was in the twelve), Gower's failure to give him a new ball in any of the four previous games was strange. On the credit side was England's fielding, especially Robinson's, in an Indian innings spanning nine hours, twenty minutes.

England, needing 270 to make India bat again, lost Robinson to a highly questionable lbw decision in the final 50 minutes of the third day's play. India were kept waiting till 45 minutes after lunch on the fourth day for their next success, Fowler and Gatting adding 135 in 199 minutes on a slow, turning pitch. Then Fowler was lbw to Sivaramakrishnan before umpire Kishen gave Gower out, caught at silly-point from what the batsman believed was a rebound off his pad. Next over, when Lamb, groping for a leg break, was brilliantly stumped off Sivaramakrishnan, bowling round the wicket, England had slumped from 138 for one to 152 for four in 27 minutes. Cowdrey saw Gatting past his first Test hundred (in his 54th innings, two more than R. B. Simpson needed for Australia), but at 199 fell to another controversial catch at silly-point.

Gatting, sensing an assault was needed for England to escape, scored 40 of his final 46 in 4s. Then Sivaramakrishnan deceived him in the air, causing him to sky a catch to long-off, making England 222 for six. The ease with which Pocock batted for 78 minutes on the last day, adding 62 for the ninth wicket with Downton, showed that Gatting may have miscalculated. But the stroke, far less the intention, took little credit from his 309 minutes of mixed aggression and solidity which brought him 21 4s. The tiny Sivaramakrishnan, if somewhat flattered by match figures of twelve for 181, looked a fine prospect and an engaging natural cricketer.

© John Wisden & Co