India 2 West Indies 3, Pakistan 0 West Indies 0

The West Indies in India and Pakistan and Sri Lanka, 1974-75

Dicky Rutnagur

The fourth tour undertaken by the West Indies of the Indian sub-continent was remarkable not only because of the the storybook pattern of the series against India but also because every member of the touring party made a mark; everyone, that is, except Rowe, who suddenly developed eye trouble and went home after only two matches.

For the first time, every Test match of a series in India produced a definite result and the fifth Test started against the dramatic background of India having levelled the rubber after being overwhelmed in the first two Tests. Despite India's gallant rally, West Indies deserved to win the final Test and the series, as there was never any question of their all-round superiority.

The two Test matches in Pakistan should have brought the tour to a splendid climax played and there was some good cricket played and there were passages of high excitement in each. While the West Indies' performance in Pakistan may have suffered from the strain of a long tour, the home side were below full strength in the first Test, Sadiq Mohammad being unavailable because of a coaching assignment in Tasmania.

It was on a tour of India and Pakistan, in 1958-59, that the formidable and glamorous West Indies side of the 1960's first took shape and showed their potential. The 1974-75 team gave a strong a hint of future greatness, the two losses to India notwithstanding.

The previous series between West Indies and India, four years earlier, had resulted in an Indian victory and with India's celebrated spin combination having established a psychological advantage. Moreover, the two most successful West Indian batsmen in that series, Sobers and Kanhai, were not in the present side.

West Indies decided on a strategy of attack against the Indian spinners. Lloyd himself showed the way, using his reach, eye and tremendous weight of shot to overpower the Indian bowling. Such a method carried risks, but luck rode with Lloyd more often than not and he easily topped the averages as well as aggregates for both the whole tour, during which he accumulated 1,363 runs, and the Test matches. He exceeded the four-figure mark on the Indian leg alone, averaging 103.50.

For all the dramatic impact of Lloyd's belligerence and his impressive statistics, the superb batsmanship of Kallicharran was not dwarfed. It was in full evidence on the two most awkward pitches which West Indies encountered. The manner in which he sustained a collapsing innings on a rain-affected pitch in the first Test made his century a masterpiece. His 51 in the fourth Test, at Madras, was an equally distinguished exhibition of technique. The next highest score in that innings was 19.

Rowe's withdrawal from the tour opened new possibilities for Richards, and he used his opportunity to the fullest. After two failures in the first Test, he played a match-winning innings of 192 in the second. Even during this innings, one noticed that Richards matured in temperament and improved his technique against high-class spin.

Another newcomer to the West Indies side, Gordon Greenidge, made an immediate impact, scoring 93 and 107 in his first Test. But he could not maintain this form. Fredericks, the most experienced batsman in the side apart from Lloyd, was injured during the first Test and taken ill during the second. Although technically he looked ill-equipped to make runs against spinners on turning pitches - and, indeed he struggled against the Indians during the previous series - Fredericks scored two centuries, in the third and fifth Tests.

All the first five batsmen in the batting order aggregated more than 300 runs in the series and scored at least one century each. Fredericks, Kallicharran and Lloyd carried their superb form through to their series in Pakistan. While Fredericks had his fitness problems, Deryck Murray was pressed into service as an opening batsman, a factor which no doubt delayed his success with the bat until the final Test. The all-rounders, Juilen and Boyce, made runs only in one Test against India, although Julien redeemed himself with a century in the second Test against Pakistan.

Two batsmen, Baichan and David Murray, did not play in a single Test in India. Baichan, a left-hander from Guyana on his first tour, scored 158 and 114 not out in his first two innings and would have been in strong contention for a place in the first Test had he not been injured in a car accident two days before. With Greenidge making such a memorable debut, Baichan lost his chance and had to wait till the first Test in Pakistan. He took his opportunity and made 105 not out at a time when West Indies were under pressure.

In five innings in India, David Murray made 237 at an average of 59.25 and coped so capably with spin that he must have come close to being picked at some stage during the last three Tests.

Roberts, making his first tour, was the outstanding bowler. He took 63 wickets on the tour, 23 more than Holder, the next most successful bowler. His haul in seven Test matches was 44 wickets. What was so admirable about Roberts' performance was that his enthusiasm remained undampened by slow pitches and he bowled as fast as any contemporary bowler. His standards fell in only one of the 14 Test innings - the first of the final Test against India.

As always, Holder had his share of ill-luck, and yet he took 22 Test wickets, six for 39 in the fifth Test against India being his outstanding effort. At 40, Gibbs showed that there was still a lot of cricket left in him. He was slow in finding his rhythm and until the second Test had captured only one wicket on the tour, but he finished the Indian series with 21, to which he added seven in Pakistan. Gibbs was in the forefront of the West Indies victories at Delhi and always bowled tightly while the fast bowlers were recharging their batteries.

Gibbs' understudy, Padmore, whose action is so remarkably similar, developed steadily and finished third in the tour averages with 31 wickets, at 27.80. Willett, the left-arm spinner, also improved on the tour and the talents of the leg-spinner Barrett were not completely reflected in his figures.

The West Indies' fielding reached exceptionally high standards, both close to the bat and away from it. Nay deflection from quality came only towards the end of a tour which was tryingly long.

As for the opposition, the Indian cause in the Test matches suffered from a combination of power-politics amongst the administration, Gavaskar's unavailability for three Tests through injury, and conservatism on the part of the selectors.

Wadekar having failed on the England tour and gone into retirement, Bedi and Engineer were the two leading candidates for the captaincy. Bedi was not considered for the post and even left out from the first Test on flimsy disciplinary grounds while Engineer was disqualified by the fact that he was based overseas. So Pataudi, despite no performance of any merit in domestic cricket, was reinstated as captain.

No doubt, Pataudi led the side well, but he was injured while fielding in the first Test and even when he returned for the third, could not find his form. A tremendous burden thus fell on Viswanath, who at last acquired the habit of making consistently big scores in keeping with his talent and class.

The one batting discovery India made during the series was Anshuman Gaekwad, son of D. K. Gaekwad who captained India on their 1959 tour of England. Tall and bespectacled, Gaekwad looked well-equipped against fast-bowling. He got in line and played very straight. Kept waiting until the third Test, Gaekwad should have been playing as early as the second. India also suffered from not giving earlier recognition to the medium-fast bowling of Madan Lal and Ghavri. With these two in the side, India would probably have made a much better match of the rain-affected first Test.

Pakistan held their own against a touring side that was showing the strains of more than three and a half months' continuous cricket. Pakistan ran into difficulties in both Tests but the manner in which they came out of the shadows underlined the quality as well as the resilience of their batsmen, among whom Majid Khan, Mushtaq Mohammad, Sadiq Mohammad, Asif Iqbal and Wasim Raja were the most distinguished.

The series also emphasised the advance as a bowler of Sarfraz Nawaz, who took six wickets for 89 in the first innings of the first Test. If the Pakistan side suffered in comparison with India's, it was only in the department of spin bowling.

Two representative games against Sri Lanka were sandwiched between the India and Pakistan legs of the tour. With their application for Test status due to come up for consideration by the International Cricket Conference in five months' time, Sri Lanka played with brave determination. The most outstanding achievements on their behalf were the capture of 15 wickets in three innings by de Silva, the leg-spinner, and the century scored by the captain, Tennekoon, in the second match.

Match reports for

1st Test: Pakistan v West Indies at Lahore, Feb 15-20, 1975
Report | Scorecard

2nd Test: Pakistan v West Indies at Karachi, Mar 1-6, 1975
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Match reports for

1st Test: India v West Indies at Bengaluru, Nov 22-27, 1974
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2nd Test: India v West Indies at Delhi, Dec 11-15, 1974
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3rd Test: India v West Indies at Kolkata, Dec 27, 1974 - Jan 1, 1975
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4th Test: India v West Indies at Chennai, Jan 11-15, 1975
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5th Test: India v West Indies at Mumbai, Jan 23-29, 1975
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© John Wisden & Co