India vs West Indies, Prudential World Cup, Edgbaston, Birmingham, June 9, 1979
West Indies won by 9 wickets
The flip of the coin becomes a big factor when the wicket has early life in it for the fast bowlers. West Indies skipper Clive Lloyd won one such important toss and asked India to bat first in the opening match of the 1979 World Cup at Birmingham.
The move was hardly surprising as Clive Lloyd had a fearsome, four-pronged pace attack in Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Colin Croft.
The West Indian pacemen made the most of the early moisture in the wicket and got early rewards for their hostility. India never recovered once Roberts got rid of Sunil Gavaskar quite early. West Indies maintained their vice-like grip on the Indian batsmen as Michael Holding, who was bowling a magnificent spell at the other end, dismissed Anshuman Gaekwad and Dilip Vengsarkar quick succession to have India reeling at 29 for three.
It was left to Gundappa Viswanath to stage what was a solitary act of Indian defiance. Viswanath, who had essayed some robust performances against the West Indies in the longer version of the game, came into his own in the shorter version as well, even as Indian innings looked like disintegrating fast.
Vishy lived up to his reputation of rising to the occasion in crisis situations with his wristy brilliance. The West Indies bowlers peppered him with short-pitch stuff, but Vishy handled them with aplomb. His 158-minute vigil at the wicket may have kept West Indies at bay, but he sorely lacked support from the other end as wickets continue to tumble at regular intervals. He added 35 runs for the sixth wicket with Kapil Dev, but he wasn’t able to stitch any partnerships of substance.
His presence in the middle was a major contributory factor in India reaching a score of 190. He was the ninth out for a meritorious 75 - Holding’s fourth scalp of the day. His solid 75 of 134 balls was studded with seven fours. The quantum of Vishy’s run can best be gauged by the fact that the next highest scorer was Mr Extras with 17!
The last pair of Srinivas Venkataraghvan and Bishan Singh Bedi probably taught the top-order a lesson or two by 27 runs after India were 163 for nine.
Gordon Greenidge gave Windies a robust start in pursuit of 191 for victory. Greenidge didn’t allow India any window of opportunity to mount a comeback after their dismal batting show.
Together with Desmond Haynes, he raised an opening stand of 138 before Kapil trapped the latter in front. Greenidge’s authoritative batting demoralized the Indian bowlers leaving the latter resigned to their fate. Vivian Richards joined in the fun as West Indies romped home with more than eight overs to spare.