Famous Test Matches – West Indies v Pakistan, Bridgetown, 1976-77

  Pakistan’s 1976-77 tour of the Caribbean was only their second to the region, following their maiden sojourn back in 1957-58, which remains the only Test series to have featured two triple hundreds. As was the case 19 years earlier, the opening Test of the 1976-77 series was also played at the Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, from February 18-23, 1977.

  Going into this series, the West Indies had not played Test cricket for six months, with their last assignment being a significant 3-0 win in the five-Test series in England. Pakistan, on the other hand, had notched a comprehensive home win against New Zealand, followed by a commendable draw in Australia, in the preceding four months.

  Pakistan were led by Mushtaq Mohammad, younger brother of Hanif, who had scored an epic 337 the last time the two teams met at Bridgetown. He elected to bat after calling correctly, and his decision seemed vindicated as openers Majid Khan and Sadiq Mohammad – yet another of the Mohammad brothers – sedately put on 72.

  The West Indies had in their ranks two young fast bowlers on Test debut who would go on to have successful careers – Guyanese Colin Croft and Barbadian Joel Garner. The two were involved in the first wicket of the day, when Garner had Sadiq caught by Croft. Majid and Haroon Rasheed further added 76 for the second wicket, and at 148/1, Pakistan looked primed for a big total.

  However, Rasheed’s dismissal to off-spinner Maurice Foster led to a collapse engineered by the two debutants. Croft had Mushtaq caught behind by Deryck Murray for a duck, while Garner dealt a double blow, castling Majid for 88 and sending back Javed Miandad cheaply, out leg-before. Asif Iqbal’s wicket to Croft added to the visitors’ frustration, and they had now lost five for 85.

      Wasim Raja twice led Pakistan’s recovery, scoring 117* and 71 in the first and second innings respectively (source – brandsynario.com)

  Resuming at 269/6 on the second day, Pakistan had an undesired start, losing Imran Khan to Andy Roberts. Their hopes of bolstering the total now pinned on the left-handed Wasim Raja, who delivered with a fine century from number seven. He marshalled the tail expertly, sharing in stands of 64 with Saleem Altaf and 73 with Sarfraz Nawaz for the eighth and ninth wickets respectively.

  Raja’s unbeaten 117, including 12 fours and a six, powered Pakistan to a formidable 435. Garner bowled with purpose to collect 4/130, with Croft not too far behind with 3/85. In reply, the West Indian openers Roy Fredericks and Gordon Greenidge added 59, but both were back in the hut before stumps on the second day, the score reading 109/2.

  The pace duo of Imran and Sarfraz continued to trouble the hosts early on the third day, and at 183/5, with the key wickets of Vivian Richards and Alvin Kallicharan also taken, Pakistan clearly had the upper hand. One big hurdle however remained to be crossed – the West Indian captain Clive Lloyd, who came in at the fall of the third wicket.

  Lloyd found a willing ally in Murray, and the duo put the Pakistani attack to the sword with a much-needed restabilization job. Lloyd dominated the sixth-wicket stand of 151, unleashing his full range of strokes to lead his team’s fightback. Murray fell to Imran for a composed 52, but Lloyd was not done yet, and added another 70 for the seventh wicket with Garner, who cracked a breezy 43.

  The West Indian innings terminated at 421 with nine men out, as Vanburn Holder was absent hurt. Lloyd finished with a captain’s knock of 157, bedecked with 22 fours and three sixes. With only 14 runs separating the teams, the proceedings of the second innings would be critical to the outcome of the match. Stumps were taken on the third day with Pakistan at 18/0, leading by 32.

       West Indian captain Clive Lloyd rescued his team in the first innings with a commanding knock of 157 (source – gettyimages)

  The fourth day featured plenty of ebbs and flows that promised to set up an exciting fight to the finish. Croft (4/47) removed the Pakistani openers before they caused much damage, but at 102/2, the visitors could scarcely have imagined the mayhem to follow. Roberts (3/66) opened the floodgates by bowling Rasheed, and later added Mushtaq’s scalp to his tally.

  At the other end, Croft’s sustained pace got the better of Iqbal and Miandad, and the Pakistani innings was now in tatters at 113/6, the last four wickets having fallen for just 11 runs. Garner joined the party with two wickets of his own, and the match seemed West Indies’ to lose as Pakistan crashed to 158/9 in the second session, ahead by no more than 172.

  As it happened, Raja proved to be the home team’s bane again. The West Indian fielders, especially the wicketkeeper Murray, did not help themselves with a shoddy display. Raja was dropped four times, and he went on to score 71, the majority of those runs coming in a sensational tenth-wicket stand worth 133 with wicketkeeper Wasim Bari (68).

  This partnership was then the second-highest for the last wicket, and it changed the complexion of this already riveting Test. Murray was guilty of conceding 29 byes, largely contributing to the total of 68 extras, which created a new Test record at that time. The entire match would feature as many as 173 extras, which still stands as the Test record.

  The eventual target for the West Indies was a stiff 306, and matters were further complicated when Greenidge was out to Sarfraz with the score at 12. The hosts began the final day at 41/1, with all four results possible. Fredericks and Richards turned the tide towards their side, as their partnership blossomed to 130 in the opening session, making Pakistan uneasy.

      Colin Croft returned match figures of 7/132 on Test debut. He would go on to take 8/29 in the first innings of the next Test (source – gettyimages)

  Sarfraz did the star turn for the visitors, accounting for both, Fredericks (52) and Richards (92), who were trying to go on the offensive in their quest to make a victory bid. The middle order was severely dented by the pace trio of Sarfraz and Imran, as the West Indian score slipped from 142/1 to 185/5. It was soon becoming an increasingly tough battle of survival for the hosts.

  As if this was not enough, Altaf, the third frontline paceman, brought Pakistan closer to victory by grabbing the wickets of Kallicharan, Garner and Murray within the space of 11 runs. When the eighth wicket fell at 217, the mandatory 20 overs were yet to begin. Roberts and Holder, who was fit to bat now, defied by adding 20 runs in 45 minutes before the latter was cleaned up by Imran.

  Croft came out to join Roberts, with Pakistan one strike away from a crucial lead in the five-Test series. However, the two fast bowlers hung in as the overs went by, ensuring that the final nail in the coffin was not hammered. The West Indies had a narrow escape, ending at 251/9 amid great tension. Roberts consumed 95 minutes for his nine, returning to the pavillion as a saviour.

  Croft (7/132) and Sarfraz (7/204) both finished with seven wickets apiece in the match. This last-gasp draw was perhaps a fitting finish to what had been an absorbing Test match, filled with many a twist in the plot due to noteworthy rescue acts in all four innings. The West Indies took the series 2-1, after winning the deciding final Test at Kingston by 140 runs.

Match Scorecard

Specials – When the World Cup champions touched down in Papua New Guinea

  The West Indies were scheduled to tour Australia for a much-awaited Test series just four months after winning the inaugural World Cup in England in 1975. Australia, led by Ian Chappell, had been their opponents in the World Cup final at Lord’s, a memorable match that ended in a 17-run win for Clive Lloyd’s men.

  As was to transpire, Australia more than made up for the disappointment with a thumping 5-1 win in the six-Test series to retain the Frank Worrell Trophy. However, before that, the West Indian contingent created history by becoming the first international team to tour and play against Papua New Guinea, who were awarded ICC Associate status in 1973.

  It had barely been a month since Papua New Guinea derived independence after 70 years of Australian rule, and the arrival of the star-studded team from the Caribbean – World Cup champions, no less – was undoubtedly a massive event for its cricketing fraternity as also for the public at large. An enthusiastic crowd gathered for the two one-day matches played.

  The West Indies first took on a Papua New Guinea Combined XI in a 25-overs-a-side match, played in the city of Lae on October 22, 1975. After Lloyd called correctly, S. Amos gave the hosts a good start by removing the dangerous Gordon Greenidge for a duck. Roy Fredericks (31) and Alvin Kallicharan (38) ensured that the run rate was not hampered in spite of regular wickets.

  The final impetus was given by Vivian Richards, then a 23-year-old who had made his international debut the previous year. Richards came in at 70/4 and top-scored with a brisk 45. Sam Malum, a 19-year-old medium pacer, impressed with a return of 3/36, including the wickets of Fredericks and Lawrence Rowe. The West Indians finished at 177/8.

    A video showing glimpses of the West Indians’ first match in Papua New Guinea, against a PNG Combined XI at Lae 

  Antiguan pace ace Andy Roberts tested the batsmen with a quality spell – he conceded only four runs in his three overs and also took the wicket of opener M. Day. With the scoring rate of more than seven looking a tall order, Day’s fellow opener Nigel Agonia decided to shut shop and batted throughout the innings for 36*. The hosts were limited to a respectable 107/3.

  The West Indians then travelled to the capital city of Port Moresby next day to face the Papua New Guinea national team in a 35-over match at Amini Park. The tourists fielded first this time, and their experienced bowling attack was too much to handle for the hosts’ top order. Bernard Julien began the damage by taking the wicket of Taunao Vai with only eight on the board.

  A run later, Roberts sent back S. Woodger before the legendary 41-year-old veteran Lance Gibbs – holder of the record for the most Test wickets – produced a double strike with the wickets of Agonia and G. Wolstenholme. The run out of K. Byrne did not help Papua New Guinea’s cause, and they were now tottering at 33/5.

  Richards too got among the wickets as he had Ilinome Tarua LBW to make it 49/6. The West Indian bowling was penetrative and their fieldwork efficient, and Papua New Guinea ran the risk of being bowled out under 100. It was turning out to be the perfect warm-up for Lloyd’s team before they entered the cauldron of Australia.

  A mini revival came in the form of a seventh-wicket partnership between wicketkeeper Lou Ao and the India-born Charles Harrison. The duo put on 46 before part-timer Kallicharan’s off-spin got rid of Harrison for 34, the top score of the innings. Ao remained unbeaten on 30 as Papua New Guinea managed 115/8.

  Greenidge was out cheaply again, courtesy a catch by Kila Alewa off M. Willard. But Fredericks was in an attacking mood at the other end, and at 46/1, the West Indians were seemingly waltzing towards the modest target. However, the next three wickets fell for seven runs, leaving the locals excited.

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    Captain Clive Lloyd scored 88 for the West Indians in their match against Papua New Guinea at Amini Park, ahead of the Test series in Australia 

  Harrison built on his batting display by castling Rowe and then having Kallicharan caught by Wolstenholme, while K. Kalo saw the back of wicketkeeper David Murray, who batted at number four in a rejigged batting order. The West Indians were suddenly 53/4 and not exactly out of the woods.

  Lloyd walked in at the fall of the fourth wicket and immediately imposed his authority on the proceedings. Harrison, who finished with a neat 3/36, soon took his third wicket in the form of Fredericks (35), and when Willard nailed the big scalp of Richards, the West Indians were 97/6 and still 19 short of victory.

  Lloyd and Julien (35) ensured that there was no embarrassment in store as they calmly knocked off the remaining runs to seal a four-wicket win for their team. The West Indians sportingly decided to bat on until they were bowled out – they ultimately scored 201 in 31 overs. Lloyd led from the front, entertaining the crowd with a knock of 88.

  The significant aspect of this match was that Papua New Guinea’s eleven consisted of six indigenous players, and from hereon, indigenous players began to dominate the national team. Having their skills tested against the World Cup holders was an invaluable experience as they strove to become a competitive unit.

  The visit of a champion cricket team indeed meant a great deal for the newly-independent nation. Four years later, the Barramundis played in the ICC Trophy for the first time, where they failed to progress beyond the first round. In the next edition in 1982, they gave a highly commendable performance by finishing third. 

  Papua New Guinea played their first List A match in 2005, against the Netherlands at Belfast in the ICC Trophy. They had to wait for nearly a decade before gaining ODI status, and created history by becoming the first nation to win its first two ODIs. They also won their maiden first-class match, in the Netherlands in 2015.

Match Scorecards:

Papua New Guinea Combined XI v West Indians

Papua New Guinea v West Indians

SPECIALS – The greatest World Cup matches, Part 2

  Continuing from Part 1 of this two-part post, let us look at five more great matches in the history of the World Cup that left many a viewer enthralled.

Australia v West Indies, Final, Lord’s, 1975

  The final of the inaugural World Cup was akin to a drama full of twists and turns. Respectively led by astute captains Ian Chappell and Clive Lloyd, Australia and the West Indies played out the best World Cup final thus far on the 21st of June, the longest day of the year. The two sides had already met once in the group stage, where the West Indies had posted an easy seven-wicket win.

  Chappell won the toss and sent the West Indians in to bat. With the score on 12, Roy Fredericks was dismissed in bizarre fashion – he hooked Dennis Lillee for six, only to lose his balance and tread on the stumps, thus getting out hit wicket. With Gordon Greenidge and Alvin Kallicharran too out cheaply, the West Indies were in a spot of bother at 50/3. At this stage, Lloyd strode out to join Rohan Kanhai – who was nearly 40 years old and playing his last international match.

  What followed was a game-changing partnership featuring contrasting innings. While Lloyd was in a ferocious mood, treating the Australian bowlers with disdain, Kanhai gave his captain solid support at the other end. The two put on 149 in 36 overs to put their team in control before Gary Gilmour – who had taken 6/14 in the semifinal against England – had Lloyd caught behind. The ‘Big Cat’ scored a fine 102 from just 85 balls, studded with 12 fours and two sixes.

  Kanhai too fell to Gilmour soon after, scoring 55 from 105 balls. Gilmour’s burst of three quick wickets brought Australia back in the contest, but Keith Boyce and Bernard Julien put on 52 vital runs for the seventh wicket. The West Indies stretched their total to a very formidable 291/8 in 60 overs – no team had successfully chased down that many in an ODI at that time. Gilmour with 5/48 was easily the best bowler for Australia, thus making him the highest wicket-taker of the tournament.

  Boyce removed Rick McCosker early in the chase, but Alan Turner (40) and skipper Ian Chappell (62) put on 56 for the second wicket, showing that the Australians were not going down without a fight. However, the West Indian fielders, led by 23 year-old Vivian Richards, were brilliant on this day. Richards single-handedly ran out Turner and Greg Chappell to make the score 115/3. Richards then combined with Lloyd to ensure the run out of Ian Chappell, who had himself to blame as he went for a non-existent third run.

zlloydd     West Indies captain Clive Lloyd holds aloft the inaugural World Cup trophy in 1975. He scored 102 in the final against Australia (source – cricket15.com)

  Lloyd castled Doug Walters as the Australians, who were now 170/5, failed to get a substantial partnership going. Boyce (4/50) returned to trouble the middle and lower order as Australia slid to 233/9 in 52 overs, and a West Indian victory now just a formality. A final twist remained though – the last pair of Thomson and Lillee gave some anxious moments to the West Indians. When eleven balls were remaining, with Australia still needing 24 to win, Thomson chipped a delivery from Vanburn Holder into Fredericks’ hands.

  The crowd, largely consisting of West Indian supporters, ran out on to the field thinking that the match was over. However, they had not noticed umpire Dickie Bird’s no-ball call. The ball got lost in the melee and the batsmen kept on collecting as many runs as they possibly could. According to Lillee, they had ran about 17, but eventually the umpires gave them four when the ground was cleared.

  Three balls later, the match saw its logical conclusion after Thomson was run out by the wicketkeeper Deryck Murray. Australia had valiantly fought, but were bowled out for 274 with eight balls left. The West Indies became the first winners of the World Cup as the longest one-day match played – from 11 a.m to 8.43 p.m – came to an end. Lloyd, who was deservedly named Man of the Match, received the Prudential trophy from Prince Phillip.

England v Ireland, Group Stage, Bangalore, 2011

  This Group B match in the 2011 edition will always be remembered for the fact that an Associate nation beat a full member by chasing down a total in excess of 300, and that too after being in dire straits at the halfway mark. The memorable win was made possible due to a buccaneering, record-breaking hundred from Irish all-rounder Kevin O’Brien, who became a poster boy for cricket back home.

  England, after electing to bat, were provided a strong platform by captain Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen (59), who put on 91 for the first wicket. Jonathan Trott (92) and Ian Bell (81) then shared a 167-run partnership in 26 overs for the third wicket to put their team firmly in control. Late wickets from John Mooney (4/72) pegged back England a little, but the final total of 327/8 was still an imposing one.

  Ireland lost their captain William Porterfield off the first ball of the chase. Paul Stirling and Ed Joyce played positively in a 62-run stand for the second wicket, but off-spinner Graeme Swann prised out three quick wickets as Ireland slumped from 103/2 to 111/5 in the space of four overs. If Ireland were to come back in the game, at least one batsman had to deliver something really special, and Kevin O’Brien did just that. He came in at 106/4, and was joined by Alex Cusack at the fall of the fifth wicket.

  With a breath-taking display of power-hitting, O’Brien snatched the game right from the hands of the English. He shared a fantastic sixth-wicket partnership of 162 in just 19.1 overs with Cusack. While Cusack was out for 47, O’Brien marched on to his hundred off just 50 balls, beating Matthew Hayden’s World Cup record. He added a further 44 for the seventh wicket with Mooney, and by the time he was out for a scintillating 113 from 63 balls, with 13 fours and six sixes, Ireland needed only 11 runs from as many balls.

  The final over began with just three runs required. Off the first ball itself, Mooney smashed James Anderson for four to bring up Ireland’s historic three-wicket win over the old enemy. The boys in green had done the unthinkable by achieving the the highest successful chase in a World Cup match.

  The Bangalore crowd celebrated an epic giant-slaying episode even as the Irish team congratulated each other with joy. O’Brien had played the innings of the tournament, and most importantly, provided a massive boost to cricket in his country.

zznom      Kevin O’Brien (left) celebrates Ireland’s famous win over England in 2011. He smashed a record 113 from only 63 balls (source – bbc.co.uk)

Ireland v Zimbabwe, Group Stage, Kingston, 2007

  This was Ireland’s very first World Cup match. Their team of amateurs greatly impressed on debut, holding a much more established and experienced Zimbabwean outfit to a thrilling tie. This was the third tie in the history of the World Cup.

  Zimbabwean captain Prosper Utseya put Ireland in to bat, and his medium pacemen created trouble for the Irish batsmen from the very outset. Five wickets were down with just 89 runs on the board, three of them being single figures. Even as wickets tumbled, opener Jeremy Bray remained unmoved. He was bating assuredly and found a willing partner in Andrew White, with whom he added 56 for the sixth wicket.

  This was the highest partnership for Ireland, who eventually reached a competitive 221/9 in 50 overs. The lower order added some vital runs to swell the total. Bray stayed from start to end, scoring an unbeaten 115 from 137 balls, with ten fours and two sixes.

  Zimbabwe were in a great position at 92/1 in the 21st over, but a middle order wobble saw them slide to 133/5. Opener Vusimuzi Sibanda scored 67 from 84 balls. Stuart Matsikenyeri and Brendan Taylor gave Zimbabwe the upper hand again as they stitched together 70 runs for the sixth wicket. When Taylor was run out, Zimbabwe needed only 19 runs from 38 balls with four wickets left, an easy equation.

  However, tight bowling and fielding from Ireland built the pressure on the Zimbabwean lower order. By the time the final over – to be bowled by White – began, Zimbabwe had lost three more wickets and now needed nine runs with one wicket remaining. Matsikenyeri, who scored an unbeaten 73, took five runs off the first three balls to bring the requirement to four off three.

  Three runs came from the next two balls and the scores were level with a ball to go. Matsikenyeri missed it and non-striker Ed Rainsford, who was already out of his crease, was run out. This result was to play a major factor in Ireland’s entry into the Super Eight round.

Pakistan v West Indies, Group Stage, Lahore, 1987

  This was the second World Cup match to end in a result margin of one wicket, and incidentally involving the same two teams which were part of the first. However, unlike that match in 1975, this time it was Pakistan who emerged victorious. They had Courtney Walsh’s commendable sportsman spirit to thank, without which they would not have won.

  After electing to bat, the West Indies got off to a good start with openers Desmond Haynes and Phil Simmons (50) putting on 91. However, penetrative bowling from captain Imran Khan (4/37) and Saleem Jaffar (3/30) triggered a collapse of four wickets for 30 runs. Imran’s opposite number Vivian Richards scored an attacking 51, but the rest of the batsmen failed to give him support. The innings folded for 216 in 49.3 overs, the last five wickets falling for 32 runs.

  Pakistan lost Mansoor Akhtar and Saleem Malik to be 28/2, following which Rameez Raja and Javed Miandad added 64 for the third wicket. Three quick wickets reduced the score to 110/5 in the 35th over, and the West Indies now held an edge. Wicketkeeper Saleem Yousuf came in at this point, and with the help of the lower order, set about in pursuit of the remaining target. He and Imran shared a sixth-wicket stand of 73 in eleven overs.

  As the tension grew, Yousuf kept on batting intelligently. He was the eighth wicket out with the score at 202 in the 48th over, making 56 from 49 balls with seven fours. When the last over from Walsh began, Pakistan still needed 14 runs with the last pair in the middle. With ten needed off three, Abdul Qadir struck a six followed by two.

  So two to win off the final delivery. Non-striker Jaffar was backing up too soon and Walsh was well within his right to run him out. But sportingly, he refrained from doing so and Qadir ultimately scored the two runs to seal Pakistan’s win.

India v England, Group Stage, Bangalore, 2011

zzcf     The scoreboard at the Chinnaswamy Stadium confirms the tied result in the group match between India and England in 2011 (source – ndtv.com)

  Rounding off this list is the fourth tied match in the World Cup, by far the highest-scoring one. On a typically flat Bangalore track, India elected to bat first. Virender Sehwag was out for a quick 35, but his opening partner Sachin Tendulkar – arguably the greatest ODI batsman – unleashed an array of glorious shots on the English bowlers.

  Tendulkar added 134 with Gautam Gambhir (51 from 61 balls) for the second wicket and a further 56 with Yuvraj Singh (58 from 50) for the third wicket. He was dismissed in the 39th over for a brilliant 120 from 115 balls, with ten fours and five sixes. India lost their last seven wickets for just 33 runs in 24 balls, as the innings drew to a close at 338 in 49.5 overs. Tim Bresnan was the only one who bowled well, taking 5/48 off his ten overs.

  Captain Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen gave England a good start by putting on 68 for the opening wicket. Strauss was batting wonderfully, and the Indian bowlers were clueless against his pristine stroke-making. He shared a partnership worth 170 in 26 overs with Ian Bell for the third wicket. Requiring 58 from 45 balls with as many as eight wickets left, England were on course to overhaul India’s huge total.

  However, Zaheer Khan removed both Bell (69 from 71 balls) and Strauss off consecutive deliveries to bring his side back in the match. Strauss, later named Man of the Match, scored a career-best of 158 from 145 balls, with 18 fours and a six. In the pursuit of quick runs, wickets began to tumble. As Munaf Patel began the final over, England needed 14 runs with two wickets in hand.

  With 11 needed off four, tail-ender Ajmal Shahzad clouted a six, much to the delight of his teammates. Patel maintained his composure though, and it boiled down to two needed off the final ball. Graeme Swann managed to hit it to mid-off, but could complete only a single, leaving the scores tied and the crowd highly satisfied.

Specials – Best of the Tests at the Wankhede

  Test cricket in the bustling city of Mumbai shifted for good to the Wankhede Stadium in the 1974-75 season, after it was built due to disputes between the Cricket Club of India (who own the historic Brabourne Stadium), which is a stone’s throw away from the Wankhede and has hosted only one Test in the last four decades, and the Mumbai Cricket Association over the allocation of tickets. The stadium is named after S.K Wankhede (1914-1988), a former secretary of the MCA.

          The new Wankhede Stadium, which was revamped for the 2011 World Cup

  As the 23rd Test to be played at the Wankhede between India and England is in progress, let us look back at five memorable Tests played at this venue over the last 38 years:-

1. India vs West Indies, 5th Test 1974-75

  This was the first ever Test played at the Wankhede, and the deciding Test with the teams locked at 2-2. The West Indies were still not at their 1980’s peak, but they nonetheless trounced the hosts by a comfortable 201 runs. Captain Clive Lloyd’s glorious unbeaten 242, aided by Roy Fredericks’ 104  plus Alvin Kallicharan (98) and Deryck Murray (91) helped the West Indians to an imposing 604/6. Eknath Solkar’s gutsy 102 just helped India avoid the follow-on, as a haul of 7/98 from the veteran Lance Gibbs ensured that India could not reach more than 406. In the second innings, West Indies galloped at 5 runs an over to declare at 205/3, setting India 404 to win. Already 53/3 at the start of the final (sixth) day, the hosts folded for 202, with Vanburn Holder grabbing 6/39, giving West Indies the series 3-2.

          Windies captain Clive Lloyd plundered 242* in the first ever Wankhede Test

2. India v England, Only Test 1979-80

  This was a one-off Test staged in honour of the Indian cricket board’s golden jubilee, and one man Ian Botham made it his own. He announced himself in the match by taking 6/58 as India were bowled out for 242 on the first day. Karsan Ghavri and Kapil Dev then reduced England to 58/5 when Botham swung the game around with a typical 114 from only 144 balls to guide England to 296. The lead of 54 was not yet a safe one, but Botham made it look like more than enough, as he ripped through the hosts in the second innings, taking 7/48 to have 13/106 in the match. India were bundled for 149, and England cantered home by ten wickets, reaching 98/0, where for a change, Botham was not required. Botham’s show was probably the most impactful all-round feat ever seen in a Test match.

             Ian Botham destroyed India with a stunning all-round showing in 1979-80 (source – ibnlive.in.com)

3. India v England, 1st Test 1981-82

  India exacted revenge two seasons later with a 138 run victory in a low-scoring encounter. India managed only 179 in the first innings, built around captain Sunil Gavaskar’s solid 55. Left armer Dilip Doshi then took 5/39 as England collapsed from 95/1 to 166 all out, in spite of half centuries from Geoff Boycott and Chris Tavare. The lead was only 13, and England’s scope of a win further brightened when they had India at 90/5 and then 157/8 in the second innings, before Kapil Dev crashed 46 off 50 balls and added vital runs with the lower order, helping his side to 227 and thus setting England a tricky 241 in the fourth innings. But Kapil (5/70) and Madan Lal (5/23) blew England away, as the visitors never recovered from 42/5, getting bowled out for a measly 102. This was the only result in a 6-Test series.

4. India v Australia, 4th Test 2004-05

  The pitch for this final Test was widely criticised, and the fact that it produced a thriller was overlooked. Hardly any play was possible due to rain on the first day, yet the Test ended within three days. India were shot out for 104 on a pitch that was turning more generously than was required. Australia built a good lead of 99 after they were all out for 203 on day 2 – a day on which 18 wickets fell. A further 20 wickets fell on the dramatic third day, India getting to 205 courtesy a priceless 91 run stand between senior pros VVS Laxman (69) and Sachin Tendulkar (55). Part time left armer Michael Clarke, of all bowlers, took an astonishing 6/9. Australia needed only 106, but India’s three-pronged spin attack of Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Murali Kartik had the then world champions in tatters at 58/7 before skittling them out for 93, Harbhajan taking 5 in the innings and Kartik 7 in the match. It was an exciting end to an extraordinary match. Australia took the series 2-1.

5. India v West Indies, 3rd Test 2011-12

            Darren Sammy and his men rejoice after denying India victory in 2011-12 (source – hindustantimes.com)

  I had the privilege of watching this Test live in the stadium, and I realised what a unpredictable game Test cricket can be. India had taken the series 2-0, and this Test was clearly headed for a draw after West Indies ended their first innings early on Day 3, scoring a massive 590. Their top six all scored more than 61, with Darren Bravo going on to make 166. India replied with 482, courtesy an attacking, unexpected knock of 103 from four-Test old off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who also took 5/156 in the first innings. The West Indies were 81/2 at stumps on Day 4, and I decided to miss the first session of the final day, as I thought that the match will peter out to a dull draw.

  As it happened, that very session turned the game on its head. Pragyan Ojha took 6/47 while Ashwin took 4 more wickets as West Indies were bowled out for 134, setting India 242 in a little over two sessions. I was back at the ground, and witnessed a gripping chase. India were favourites as they needed 95 off 30 overs with 6 wickets left. But the Windies chipped away with wickets, and finally India needed 3 runs with 2 wickets in hand in the last over. They could only manage 2, and Ashwin was run out off the last ball to leave the scores level and result in one of the most thrilling Test finishes.This was only the second draw with the scores level in Tests, the first being Zimbabwe vs England at Bulawayo in 1996-97.