We all have heard the story of Robert Bruce and the spider in the cave and the story was put in front of the eyes as India finally registered a victory over the West Indies in their 25th Test Match against the Caribbean team in 1971.
There are nail-biters, there are humdingers, there are immensely contested battles but this was a victory which showed that Indians could play against and more importantly, challenge and win against even the mightiest cricketing nations in World cricket.
No one gave a chance to the Indian team which was fairly young with quite a number of youngsters and a new captain in Ajit Wadekar. West Indies were still the team to beat with their rock-like batting line-up comprising of Gary Sobers, Clive Lloyd and Rohan Kanhai to mention a few. Indians were yet to register a victory in the 23 matches against the Islanders.
After giving the hosts a mighty scare by enforcing them to follow-on, Indians left them off the hook as the home team batsmen took their team to safety in the first test. This set-up the stage for the second test as West Indians were desperate to heal their wounded reputation. On the other hand, underdogs Indians had a glitter of hope in their eyes as they had shown the World that they can play.
Indians did well to bundle out the Caribbean’s for 214 with only Charlie Davis getting a fifty-plus score. Erappali Prassana lead the bowling charts with four wickets. Indian’s reply was strong with Dilip Sardesai scoring a century and Eknath Solkar and young Sunil Manohar Gavaskar getting fifties. Visitors took a 138-run lead and were in the driving seat once again.
However, West Indies fought back to finish the third day at 150 for the loss of one wicket. Prassana, the highest wicket –taker in the first innings was injured and the second test seemed to be proceeding in identical fashion.
S Venkataraghavan spun his magic in the second innings and was helped by two timely scalps of Salim Durani as West Indies were bundled out for 261, giving India a target of 124 runs to create history.
Indian openers added 74 for the first wicket but three quick dismissals within 10 runs meant visitors could not take it lightly. However, Gavaskar, on his test tube, struck a magnificent unbeaten 67 to take India home without any further hiccups. Indians proved the world that they were the next big thing and Cricket started gaining popularity in the country. Today, as Indians consider cricket as a religion, this day should be celebrated like a festival.