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Revisiting India's Test wins in the Caribbean


West_Indies_India_Test_CricketIndia and the West Indies commence their World Test Championship campaign with a two-Test series in the Caribbean, with the first match set to be played at North Sound in Antigua from August 22. Out of 49 Tests in the West Indies, India have won seven and lost 16. However, they have not lost a Test there since 2001-02, and have won each of the last three series. As we await the first Test, here is a look back at the seven times that India have won a Test in the Caribbean.

Second Test, Port of Spain, 1970-71

The tone was set when seamer Syed Abid Ali bowled Roy Fredericks off the first ball, after which left-arm spinner Bishan Singh Bedi and off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna (4/54) shared seven wickets amongst them on a pitch tailor-made for spin. Charlie Davis hit 71*, but the final total was a modest 214. India replied strongly, with openers Ashok Mankad and debutant Sunil Gavaskar (65) adding 68. Gavaskar also added 96 for the third wicket with Dilip Sardesai (112).

Sardesai shared in a fifth-wicket stand of 114 with Eknath Solkar (55), steering India to a lead of 138. Off-spinner Jack Noreiga returned figures of 9/95 – the best in Tests by a West Indian. The West Indies managed 261 (Fredericks 80, Davis 74*) in the second innings, with Srinivas Venkataraghavan, another offie, taking 5/95. Gavaskar completed a memorable debut with 67*, shepherding India to a famous seven-wicket win – their first against the West Indies in 25 Tests.

Third Test, Port of Spain, 1975-76

Five years later, India scripted another historic win at the Queen’s Park Oval. Leg-spinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar reduced the West Indies to 52/3, before Vivian Richards (177) improved the total to 359. ‘Chandra’ and Bedi snared 6/120 and 4/73 respectively. Paceman Michael Holding (6/65) built on the momentum injected by Richards, ensuring a lead of 131 for the West Indies, who went on to declare their second innings at 271/6 (Alvin Kallicharan 103*).

Chasing 403, India went into the final day at 134/1. Gavaskar reached 102 before being second out at 177, ending a stand of 108 with Mohinder Amarnath (85). The West Indian spinners had no answer as Amarnath added a further 159 for the third wicket with Gundappa Viswanath (112) to put India on track. Brijesh Patel (49*) applied the finishing touches to what was an incredible six-wicket win – only the second time that a 400-plus target was successfully achieved in a Test.

Second Test, Port of Spain, 2001-02

India’s first innings of 339 revolved around a knock of 117 from Sachin Tendulkar, who came in at 38/2. Tendulkar added 124 for the third wicket with Rahul Dravid, 56 for the fourth wicket with captain Sourav Ganguly, and 58 for the fifth wicket with VVS Laxman (69*). The West Indies ended up conceding a lead of 94, after slipping from 179/3 to 245 all out. India in turn fell to 56/4 in the second dig, before Ganguly (75*) and Laxman (74) put on 149 for the fifth wicket.

But Laxman’s dismissal to Mervyn Dillon (4/42) led to the loss of six wickets for just 13, leaving the West Indies with 313 to win. Ashish Nehra gave India the edge by scalping Brian Lara and captain Carl Hooper early on the final day to make the score 164/4. Chris Gayle (52) and Shivnarine Chanderpaul (67*) put on 73 for the fifth wicket though, much to the crowd’s joy. However, three wickets in two overs put paid to the hosts’ hopes, and India prevailed by 37 runs.

Fourth Test, Kingston, 2006

After three draws, it all boiled down to the decider, which produced a result inside three days. India, on the back of two masterly innings from their captain Dravid, emerged victorious by 49 runs on an unpredictable pitch to win their first Test series in the Caribbean in 35 years. Jamaican pacer Jerome Taylor starred for the Windies on the first day, taking 5/50 to help bowl India out for 200. Dravid, coming in at a precarious 3/2, held the innings together with a solid 81.

Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh derailed the West Indian reply with a haul of 5/13 in just 4.3 overs, as the score dramatically subsided from 72/2 to 103 within ten overs. Taylor (4/45) and Corey Collymore (5/48) threatened an Indian implosion in the second dig, but the tireless Dravid stood tall again, this time with 68. A target of 269 was always going to be tough on this surface, and after the fast bowlers’ early strikes, the leg-spin of Anil Kumble (6/78) sealed a hard-fought win.

First Test, Kingston, 2011

With three debutants – Abhinav Mukund, Virat Kohli and Praveen Kumar – in their eleven, India began poorly after deciding to bat, as the score slid to 85/6 against the pace of Ravi Rampaul and Fidel Edwards (4/56) and the leg-spin of Devendra Bishoo. The rescue act came from Suresh Raina (82) and Harbhajan (70), who forged a seventh-wicket partnership of 146 in just 28 overs to bolster the total to 246. In spite of Adrian Barath’s 64, the West Indies folded for 173 in reply.

Dravid again showed his liking for Sabina Park with an anchoring 112 in the second innings, even as wickets kept falling at the other end – no one else crossed 28. He arrived when the score was 0/1 in the second over and was last out at 252, having batted for 402 minutes. The hosts’ chase of 326 started well, with Barath and Lendl Simmons racing to an opening stand of 62. But the Indian bowling attack again delivered as a unit, ensuring a 63-run win for their side.

First Test, North Sound, 2016

Five years after his Test debut, Kohli played a captain’s knock to lay the foundation for a thumping Indian victory. Coming in at 74/2, he put on 105 for the third wicket with Shikhar Dhawan (84), and later shared in a stand of 168 for the fifth wicket with Ravichandran Ashwin, before being dismissed for a career-best (at the time) 200. Ashwin himself went on to score 113, while Amit Mishra chipped in with a rapid 53 from number eight. India duly declared at a mammoth 566/8.

Pacers Umesh Yadav (4/41) and Mohammad Shami (4/66) combined to bowl the West Indies out for 243 (Kraigg Brathwaite top-scoring with 74). The total would have been much lower had it not been for wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich’s 57*, as the score was 92/5 at one point. It was a similar story as the Windies followed on, and this time it was the off-spin of Ashwin (7/83) – who was later named Man of the Match – that wrought havoc, limiting the total to 231.

Third Test, Gros Islet, 2016

India sealed a third consecutive series triumph in the Caribbean with another comprehensive win. The West Indies showed promise at the outset, as they reduced India to 19/2 and later to 126/5. However, Ashwin (118) joined forces with wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha (104), and the duo turned the tide through a sixth-wicket partnership worth 213. Once they were separated, the last five wickets fell for only 14 runs, and the innings wound up at 353 after lunch on the second day.

Having been given a solid start by Brathwaite (64), the West Indies moved to 202/3 in the second session of the fourth day (the third day was entirely washed out). But pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar (5/33) triggered a stunning collapse, which saw the score nosedive to 225 all out. Ajinkya Rahane’s unbeaten 78 enabled India to declare at 217/7, after which the West Indies, facing a target of 346 in 79 overs, were bundled out for 108. Only Darren Bravo, with 59, showed fight.

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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