West Indies in India: A brief Test history (1948-1983)
Garry Sobers scored centuries in each of the first three Tests of the 1958-59 series. @Getty

Ahead of the India vs West Indies Test series starting October 4 at Rajkot, we take a look at how West Indies have fared on tours to India down the years. Overall, since the first tour by a West Indian team in 1948, the record stands at 14 wins, 11 losses and 20 draws for West Indies in India. Here is part one.

1948-49 – West Indies won 1-0

John Goddard s touring side won the five-Test series with victory by an innings and 193 runs in the fourth Test in what was then known as Madras. It came after draws in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata in which batsmen on both sides flourished. In the fourth Test in January 1979, West Indies piled up 582 after an opening stand of 239 between Allan Rae (109) and Jeffrey Stollmeyer (160) and then bowled out Lala Amarnath s India for 245 and 144 to take the lead. Back at the Brabourne Stadium for the final Test, an engaging match ensued. India s bowlers finally had a good match, keeping West Indies to 268 and 267. Set a target of 361 in 395 minutes, India finished on 355/8 with Goddard reportedly delaying play with various tactics and Wisden noting that the umpire Bapu Joshi signalled the end of the Test when there were two minutes left to go. Thus the Brabourne spectators jeered and booed when a riveting Test came to a close.

1958-59 – West Indies on 3-0

Gerry Alexander led West Indies to a dominant series victory, one of the most successful by a rising team in that era. In fact, Alexander s team became the first to win three Tests in a row on Indian soil.

With the presence of Garry Sobers – at the time the world-record-holder for scoring 365 not out – and the pace duo of Wesley Hall and Roy Gilchrist, West Indies beat a muddled and controversy-marred Indian team by 203 runs in Kanpur, an innings and 336 runs at Eden Gardens and by 295 runs in Chennai either side of draws in Mumbai and Delhi.

The stars for West Indies were Hall with 30 wickets, Gilchrist with 26 (from four Tests) and Sobers with centuries in the first three Tests. Backed by Rohan Kanhai s 256 in Kolkata, the batsmen pummelled India s bowlers. Infighting and having four captains in five Tests did not add to India s predicament.

BS Chandrasekhar claimed 18 wickets in the 1966-67 series.
BS Chandrasekhar claimed 18 wickets in the 1966-67 series. @Getty

1966-67 – West Indies won 2-0

Another successful tour for West Indies, this time under Sobers who scored 342 runs (the most for West Indies) with five fifties and took 14 wickets, second to the 18 that Lance Gibbs and BS Chandrasekhar claimed. A six-wicket win at the Brabourne Stadium put Sobers team 1-0 up with the skipper scoring two fifties and taking five wickets. At Eden Gardens, fifties to Kanhai, Sobers and Seymour Nurse put up 390 which was backed by Gibbs and Sobers rolling India over for 167 and 178 for an innings victory. The final Test was drawn in Chennai, where Chandu Borde continued his fine series with 125 and 49 to finish the leading run-getter on either side.

1973-74 – West Indies won 3-2

A much closer scoreline, with India winning the third and fourth Tests to force the decider which Clive Lloyd s team won by 201 runs to claim the series. West Indies bossed the first two Tests in Bangalore and Delhi, winning by 267 runs and an innings and 17 runs respectively. The Bengaluru Test was won when West Indies made 356/6 in their second innings, with a fresh-faced Gordon Greenidge, on debut, scoring 107 and Lloyd 173 to set India a target of 386. They never got close, bowled out for 118 with Andy Roberts and Keith Boyce taking three wickets each.

Gordon Greenidge scored 107 on Test debut in 1973-74 to help West Indies beat India.
Gordon Greenidge scored 107 on Test debut in 1973-74 to help West Indies beat India. @Getty

At the Kotla, Vivian Richards famous unbeaten 192 batted India out of the Test after they were kept to 220 in their first innings, after which Gibbs took six to crush them.

MAK Pataudi s team rallied superbly over the next two Tests. At Eden Gardens, a see-saw match was edged by 85 runs by India after good work from Madan Lal (4/22 from 16.1 overs) and Gundappa Vishwanath who made an excellent 139 in the second innings to leave West Indies 310 to win. Bishan Singh Bedi s 4/52 and 3/66 from Chandrasekhar spun a critical win.

In Chennai, the bowlers dominated on either side but it was India s who outperformed their opponents. Roberts took seven to bowl India out for 190, but then Erapalli Prasanna (5/70) and Bedi (3/40) combined to keep West Indies to 192. India made 256 with Roberts finishing with 12 in the match, but West Indies batsmen were stymied by Prasanna and Bedi again to lose by 100 runs.

The stage was set for a riveting finale, but here West Indies rose to the occasion with Lloyd scoring an exceptional 242 not out in the newly established Wankhede Stadium s debut Test match. That took the tourists to 604/6 declared, after which Eknath Solkar s only Test hundred and Vishwanath s 95 drove India to a strong position only for Gibbs to pull it back for West Indies. Gibbs dismissal of Vishwanath at 539/5 saw India crash to 406 all out with the offspinner finishing with 7/98 from 59 overs.

A dash to 205/3 in 40 overs – a run-rate of 5.12, immense in those days – prompted Lloyd to declare with a lead of 403, which India never got close to. Vanburn Holder grabbed 6/39 to complete a huge win and with it the series for West Indies.

1978-79 – India won 1-0

Six tests, five draws and a narrow three-wicket win to Sunil Gavaskar s home team to earn a first home Test series victory over West Indies in three decades. The win came in the fourth Test in Chennai, where India squeezed over the line when chasing 125, with Kapil Dev 26 not out.

This West Indies team led by Alvin Kallicharan was probably the weakest to arrive from the Caribbean and the lack of experience showed. Kallicharan s 538 runs and Larry Gomes 405 stood out, but up against a full-strength Indian team the visitors were outplayed even in five the draws on mostly placid surfaces. Gavaskar, leading India in place of Bedi after the series loss in Pakistan, made 732 runs with four centuries.

Malcolm Marshall gave India a tough time during the 1983-84 series.
Malcolm Marshall gave India a tough time during the 1983-84 series. @Getty

1983-84 – West Indies won 3-0

A much stronger West Indies met the team that had beaten them in the 1983 World Cup final to shift the dynamic of world cricket and had their revenge, with three thumping defeats leading Lloyd s side to a series win. This was a heatedly contested series, in which victories by an innings and 83 runs in Kanpur, 138 runs in Ahmedabad and an innings and 46 runs in Kolkata saw India rattled.

Gavaskar s 505 runs were the highest of the series, of which an unbeaten 236 came in one innings – and what an innings it was, coming after he had the bat rattled out of his grasp by a tearaway young Malcolm Marshall in the first Test in Kanpur. Indeed it was that loss to West Indies in the series opener that set the tone, for it saw Marshall stamp his authority: 92 with the bat and then a crippling burst that saw India crash to 0/2, 9/3 and 18/4 in their first innings. Four wickets in each innings from Marshall crushed India and won him the Man-of-the-Match award.

Either side of draws in Delhi and Mumbai, West Indies beat India in Ahmedabad where Wayne Daniels and Michael Holding out bowled India despite a terrific 9/83 by Kapil in the tourists second innings. At Eden Gardens, Marshall, Roberts and Holding took 16 of the 20 Indian wickets to fall in a massive victory; Marshall took nine wickets and lost out on the match award to his skipper Lloyd who made a match-winning 161 not out to revive his team from 42/4 to 377, with help from Marshall (54) and Sobers (68).

The sixth Test was drawn, with the aforementioned Gavaskar double coming after India had again been reduced to 0/2.