First Test


At Bombay, November 18, 19, 20, 21 22. India won by 96 runs. Toss: India. Test debuts: C. E. Cuffy, R. Dhanraj.

India began life after Kapil Dev with their tenth successive home Test victory, which was also Azharuddin's tenth win as captain, beating the nine of the Nawab of Pataudi junior and Sunil Gavaskar. But the advantage swung between the teams, and between bat and ball, until well into the fourth day.

With the pitch an underprepared horror, Azharuddin won an important toss. But Walsh had Prabhakar caught at short leg off his second ball, and took three more as India slid to 99 for five. Manjrekar and Mongia built some late-order resistance in a stand of 136, finally broken by Rajindra Dhanraj, the first specialist leg-spinner to play a Test for West Indies since David Holford, now the tour manager, in April 1977. He and fellow-debutant Cameron Cuffy had few successes but Walsh finished with six, for the first time in India. West Indies, too, were in danger of folding at 120 for four. However, an aggressive innings from Arthurton and deadpan defence from Adams kept them in the game. Raju, bowling with flight and intelligence, finally removed them both. Despite the spin attack, the pitch's brutality was clear when Arthurton called for a chest guard.

India's lead of 29 seemed worthless when Benjamin had them reeling at 11 for three at the second-day close. But there was an odd twist in the morning: the bowlers' footholes had not dried out properly near the stumps at the pavilion end. Dickie Bird, the first umpire from ICC's international panel to stand in an Indian Test, ordered a 45-minute delay, which meant the West Indian bowlers lost their chance to exploit the early moisture. As the pitch developed into a slow turner, Tendulkar improved India's fortunes, batting nearly three hours for 85, with ten fours and a six. Still, India were only 191 ahead when he fell. Their position brightened dramatically when first Kumble and then Srinath joined Manjrekar, who notched up a second half-century. Kumble hit 42 and Srinath, in his first home Test, a rousing 60, including a six out of the ground off Hooper.

When Srinath was last out, West Indies' target was 363, more than they had ever made to win in the fourth innings. Their hopes took an immediate blow when Prabhakar dismissed Simmons and Lara in his first over and, with Srinath following up, half the side went for 82. Adams and Murray restored West Indian pride with a stand of 162 in three hours. The Indians fumed because it began with Bird rejecting a slip catch against Murray, but Hooper and Arthurton had suffered harsh decisions earlier. (By now, there was no third umpire to rule on video replays, as television company TWI had pulled out after the first day.) Relief came at last when off-spinner Chauhan turned one off Murray's bat to dislodge a bail, and next over Srinath had Adams leg-before. West Indies were eight down by the close, and India completed victory 22 minutes into the final morning.

Man of the Match: J. Srinath.

Close of play: First day, India 272; Second day, India 11-3 (N. S. Sidhu 0*); Third day, India 287-8 (J. Srinath 20*, R. K. Chauhan 2*); Fourth day, West Indies 252-8 (R. Dhanraj 3*).

© John Wisden & Co