New Delhi: The second Test match played at Port of Spain, Trinidad during India’s historic tour to West Indies (WI) in 1971 will always be rated as one of the most significant sporting moments for the nation. It took 23 long years for India to register a Test match and series win against the formidable WI team. Played between March 6 and 10, the second Test of the five match series is also remembered for the debut of batting legend Sunil Manohar Gavaskar.

It was an era when BCCI was not the richest board in the world, and WI was regarded as an invincible side. Led by Garfield Sobers the WI team had some great players including Rohan Kanhai, Clive Lloyd, RC Federicks and CA Davis. Therefore, when the Indian cricket team led by Ajit Wadekar arrived at Caribbean Islands in 1971, not many fancied them a chance to defeat the host nation in their own backyard.

To make the situation even worse the WI had white washed Indian team by 5-0 in the Test series, during its previous visit to Caribbean Islands in 1962. The Indian side led by Nawab of Pataudi Junior and N J Contractor suffered humiliating defeats in all five Test matches.
However, as history was to be written, Wadekar’s team scripted a remarkable victory in the Port of Spain Test and went on to win the series. The remaining four Test matches of the series resulted in a draw.

Batting first WI put on 214 in the first innings with significant contribution of 71 runs from CA Davis. For India, EAS Prasanna picked up four wickets and left arm spinner BS Bedi bagged three. With DN Sardesai hitting 112 runs and debutant Gavaskar playing a useful hand of 65, India scored 352 in their first innings taking a valuable lead of 138. J M Nogeiga picked up nine wickets in the innings. Largely due to gritty innings of 80 runs by RC Federicks and 74 runs by CA Davis, WI managed to score 216 in their second innings. In reply, India achieved the target at the loss of only three wickets. Gavaskar who scored 67 not out in the second innings scored the winning runs for the country. 

History of India-WI test matches

The first Test match between the two nations was played on November 10, 1948 at New Delhi.  The match played on Indian soil ended in a draw. Since then, WI has dominated for a period of four decades. However, since 1988, India has had the upper hand in the matches played between these two sides.

The last test match between the two great cricketing nations was played at Kingston Jamaica in 2006, in which India managed a scintillating win by a narrow margin of 49 runs. The test match which started on June 30, ended within three days. Needing 269 runs to win the match, the WI team was bowled out for 219 runs. Indian captain Rahul Dravid for his knock of 81 and 68 was named Man of the Match. Anil Kumble picked up six wickets in WI second innings and played an instrumental role in India’s victory.

Till date, India and WI have played 82 test matches, out of which WI has won 30 while in 11 matches  India has come out victorious. However 11 out of 41 of them ended in a draw. Both teams have played 17 test match series, WI has won 11 test series, India has won four test series and two ended in a draw. Out of the 11 test matches won by India, seven have been on home soil. The team has managed only four test wins in West Indies during the last 63 years. However, India has managed only two series win in WI.

In the batting department, Sunil Gavaskar tops the list of Indian batsmen against the WI. While the entire world was in the awe of the bowling attack of Windies bowling attack in 1970s and 80s, the little master relished the formidable pace attack. In the 27 test matches played against WI, Gavaskar scored 2,749 runs with an average of 65.45 per innings which included as many as 13 hundreds and 7 fifties. Dilip Vengsakar has made 1,596 runs with an average of 44.33 against WI team which includes six centuries and seven fifties.

Among the present cricketer representing the national side, Rahul Dravid is the leading run scorer against WI. Dravid popularly known as the ‘Wall’ of Indian side has scored 1,408 runs at an average of 67.04 which includes three centuries and ten fifties. Sachin Tendulkar has scored 1,328 in 16 matches with an average of 57.73. The batting legend has made three centuries and seven half centuries. Stylish VVS Laxman has made 1174 runs in 16 matches, which includes three centuries and seven fifties at an average of 53.36.

Kapil Dev leads the pack of bowlers for India. In 25 test matches against WI, Kapil Dev took 89 wickets, his best in an innings being nine wickets for 83 runs. Anil Kumble has grabbed 74 wickets in 17 test matches. Kumble’s best figure being six wickets for 78 runs. In the present Indian team, Harbhajan Singh is the leading wicket taker against WI. Bhajji has taken 45 wickets in eight test matches with a best of seven wickets for 48 runs. Leading pace bowler Zaheer Khan has taken 23 wickets against WI in seven matches.

Results of India-West Indies series
1.    WI tours India in 1948/49 - 5 test series (WI 1, Drawn 4)
2.    India tours WI in 1953       - 5 test series (WI 1, Drawn 4)
3.    WI tours India in 1958/59 - 5 test series (WI 3, Drawn 2)
4.    India tours WI in 1962        - 5 test series (WI 5, India 0) 
5.    WI tours India in 1966/67  - 3 test series (WI 2 Drawn 1)
6.    India tours WI in 1971        - 5 test series (India 1, Drawn 4)
7.    WI tours India 1974/75      - 5 test series (WI 3, India 2)
8.    India tours WI 1976             - 4 test series (WI 2, India 1, Drawn 1)
9.    WI tours India 1978/79       - 6 test series (India 1, Drawn 5)
10.    India tours WI in 1983         - 5 test series (WI 2, Drawn 3)
11.    WI tours India in 1983         - 6 test series (WI 3, Drawn 3)
12.    WI tours India in 1987/88   - 4 test series (India 1, WI 1, Drawn 2)
13.    WI tours India in 1994         - 3 test series (India 1, WI 1, Drawn 1)
14.    India tours WI in 1997         - 5 test series (WI 4, Drawn  4)
15.    India tours WI in 2002         - 5 test series (WI 2, India 1, Drawn 2)
16.    WI tours India in 2002         - 3 test series (India 2, Drawn 1)
17.    India tours WI in 2006         - 4 test series (India 1, Drawn 3) 

JPN/Kautilya Singh