First Test Match

West Indies v India

At Bridgetown (Barbados), March 10, 11, 13. West Indies won by an innings and 97 runs with two days to spare. This was the third time in four Tests between the two countries at the Kensington Oval that West Indies had beaten India.

Traditionally, Indian teams have always yielded to pace bowlers on this ground, but this time they were ousted in the first innings by the leg-spin of Holford and, ironically, all his five wickets were obtained through poor shots at loose balls.

India could have redeemed themselves after being bowled out for 177. But they invited further trouble by dropping catches. The Indian spinners bowled beautifully against heavy odds but at a crucial stage, Prasanna broke down with a groin strain.

Batting first, India began encouragingly, Gavaskar and Sharma putting on 51 for the first wicket in only nine overs. Gavaskar took heavy toll of any error in length by Roberts until the latter produced a beautiful breakback to dismiss him.

Viswanath and Surinder Amarnath fell to rank long hops from Holford and the innings fell into disrepair. The all-rounders, Mohinder Amarnath and Madan Lal resisted gallantly, but India were all out by tea.

By the end of the first day, West Indies had obtained more than half India's total for the loss of only one wicket. They were lucky not to have suffered further reverses, for Fredericks, who struggled to find his touch on a pitch of variable pace and bounce, survived a stumping chance in the first over from Bedi, off whom he could also have been caught at backward short-leg. Furthermore, Chandrasekhar found the inside edge of Richards' bat without the snick carrying to the leg-trap. Fredericks did not survive long on the second day.

There was a record third-wicket partnership between Richards and Kallicharran, who made 142 and 93, respectively. The stand was allowed to reach such high proportions because Richards was twice reprieved within half an hour in mid-morning, while Kallicharran was let off by Kirmani after lunch.

Kallicharran toiled over his runs, taking three hours, forty minutes. Richards, a trifle uncertain while adjusting to the pitch, batted with increasing authority and was totally in command by the end of his innings, which lasted four hours, two minutes and included one 6 and nineteen 4's.

The second new ball, taken 15 overs after it was due, removed both Richards and Kallicharran, but Lloyd, playing in his 50th Test, made a forceful century in only two hours, thirty-five minutes and took West Indies to a big lead.

India's chances of fighting back in the second innings were wrecked in the first over when Gavaskar was brought down by his impulse to hook. They were bowled out in five hours for 214, a score to which the only notable contributions were 62 in nearly three hours by Viswanath, and by Mohinder Amarnath and Madan Lal. Viswanath's was a classic innings which had an unfortunate end, in that he was beaten by a ball which kept very low.

After almost two hours' batting on the second day. He and his right-handed elder brother, Sheldon, stayed right through the three and a half hours' play that rain permitted on the third day and added 155.

The contest had reached a virtual stalemate because the pitch had become progressively slower. The batsmen could not play shots nor could the bowlers, after beating the bat, complete the kill.

Larry Gomes had several narrow escapes, the closest being at 61, when he played Bedi on to his wicket without disturbing the bails. After an agonising struggle over the last four runs, Larry Gomes reached his century on the last morning, when he had batted six and a quarter hours. After he had given his wicket away, Bedi soon ran through the tail and **MISSING TEXT**** Trinidad finished in mid-morning with a total of 303.

With so little time left, India had no alternative but to bat through to the end and get some practice for the second Test.

© John Wisden & Co