Bloodbath at Sabina Park: When West Indian pacers ensured 5 Indian batsmen were ‘absent hurt’
Win for Clive Lloyd's men marked the start of the West Indies pace era that went on to rule the world for 19 years. Image courtesy CricketCountry.

Team India is gearing up to take on West Indies in the second Test of the four-match series at Sabina Park, Kingston from Saturday. The hosts appeared a pale shadow of their glorious past in the first Test, surrendering rather meekly to the Indians. The manner in which they lost saddened the purists of the game, who have seen West Indies dominate world cricket for a considerable amount of time. In fact, at the venue of the second Test, the Calypso Kings once terrorised the Indian batting line-up so much so that five of their batsmen were forced not to take part in the second innings due to injuries. As the start of second Test in current series approaches, one cannot help but remember that in-famous Test from the 1976 series. ALSO READ: 11 Tests India have played at Sabina Park in Jamaica.

It was the fourth Test of the series and India went into the game high on confidence after chasing a record 406 in the previous Test at Port of Spain. They were expected to do well at Kingston too. West Indies skipper Clive Lloyd won the toss and invited India to bat first on a virgin pitch. Annoyed by the loss in the previous Test, the West Indian team adopted a negative tactic of short-pitched bowling. The tactic, in addition to uneven bounce on the surface — which often resulted in ball rising at alarming heights — spelled doom for Indians, who had started rather well. Both their openers Sunil Gavaskar and Anshuman Gaekwad had scored half-centuries and taken India to 1 for 175 at the end of Day 1.

Day 2 saw the results of West Indian strategy as Gaekwad became its first victim. He was hit on the left ear (remember those were pre-helmet days) and had to spend two nights in hospital. Gundappa Viswanath also injured his finger, which was both fractured and dislocated. Brijesh Patel, on the other hand, was required to have stitches after being hit in the mouth. All three of them did not take any further part in the match. With six wickets down for 306 and two batsmen being forced to retire, Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi decided to declare India’s first innings. His decision, though surprising one, was tactical as he wanted to protect Bhagwat Chandrasekhar and himself from nasty bowling as the two were India’s best bowlers. ALSO READ: India vs West Indies flashback: When a waiter’s ‘faith’ triumphed over Sachin Tendulkar’s ‘overconfidence’.

In reply, West Indies were at one stage reduced to 6 for 217, but a 107-run stand for the seventh wicket between Deryck Murray and Michael Holding helped the hosts earn a vital lead in the match. Their innings eventually ended at 391, with a lead of 85 runs. Bedi’s decision of declaring early was vindicated as Chandra and he shared seven wickets between them. Trailing by 85 runs and without the services of their three top batsmen, India started the second innings on a shaky note and were soon reduced to 5 for 97. Holding was in the middle of a vicious spell of short-pitched bowling and had completed seven wickets in the match thus far. With just being 12 runs ahead, India did the unthinkable.

Bedi once again declared the innings with a lead of merely 12 runs on the board. Five Indian batsmen absented in the second innings due to injury. While Gaekwad, Viswanath and Patel’s injuries were known, people thought that Bedi decided against Chandra and him batting in the innings once again in order to be protected. However, as it turned out, Bedi and Chandrasekhar also had damaged fingers while attempting return catches during the West Indies’ innings, which ruled them out from batting in India’s second innings. This became clear after West Indies’ victory when an official statement was issued by Bedi that the Indian innings should be recorded as completed. Lot of questions were raised on unfair-yet-successful tactic of the West Indies, who eventually won the series 2-1.

Brief scores:

India 306 for 6 declared (Sunil Gavaskar 66, Anshuman Gaekwad 81 retired hurt; Michael Holding 4 for 82) and 97 (Mohinder Amarnath 60; Michael Holding 3 for 35) lost to West Indies 391 (Roy Fredericks 82, Lawrence Rowe 47, Viv Richards 64, Deryck Murray 71, Michael Holding 55; Bhagwat Chandrasekhar 5 for 153) and 13 for no loss by 10 wickets.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)