In 1983, India traveled to West Indies for the tenth series between these two nations. West Indies were the decisive winner for seven of the previous nine encounters and were overwhelming favorites to be triumphant again. They were not at full strength though. Colin Croft and Sylvester Clarke were ruled out due to recent South Africa rebel tour. But, their assembly line of fast bowlers ensured that they could still field a team with four fast men – Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, and Michael Holding.
Garner and Holding just participated in Australia’s domestic cricket season and were carrying injuries. Garner had just recovered from a shoulder injury. And, Holding had to clear a fitness Test (strained calf muscle) in the morning of the first Test match at Jamaica. Vivian Richards was the West Indies' other injury worry. He had fractured his thumb after he had a fall in the bath at his Antigua home at the end of January. He was comfortable in the nets initially before the match. But, he later complained about jarring pain in his shoulder. West Indies had no choice, but to play him as they already had a debutant in the lineup. Augustine “Gus” Logie from Trinidad and Tobago was all set to play his first Test match.
India, coming after a disastrous tour of Pakistan, had a new Captain. Their young and dynamic all-rounder Kapil Dev took over from Sunny Gavaskar. Unlike their counterpart, India did not have any injury issue. Only Sunny Gavaskar did not travel with the rest of the team, having some personal work to be completed in Mumbai. He joined the team only 48 hours prior to the start of the Test. Some of the Indian journalists were not happy with this and were quite vocal about Sunny getting always preferential treatment from BCCI. From the team's perspective, India decided to go with three spinners – Venkataraghavan, Ravi Shastri and Maninder Singh.
Clive Lloyd, captaining the team for the record 50th time, won the toss and sent India to bat first. On a wicket which held no terror, India started floundering against the West Indies fast bowlers. During the afternoon session, they lost 4 wickets for 29 runs and the scoreboard was reading 127 for 7. They were rescued by resolute Yashpal Sharma (63 in four and half hours) and Sandhu (68), in an eighth-wicket partnership of 107, a record for India against West Indies. The previous record was held by Engineer and Nadkarni for 94 runs in 1962. Sandhu already scored a half-century on debut against Pakistan and again showed here that he was quite a capable bat. When Yashpal was the last man out for India, they had a score of 251. Andy Roberts was the most successful West Indies bowler with 4 for 61.
West Indies also struggled in response. India bowled well with the spinners being quite accurate. Shastri bowled with great control and claimed 4 for 43, including the prized wicket of Viv Richards, who was caught at slip. However, West Indies could squeeze a lead of 3 runs due to a labored knock from Gordon Greenidge of 70 runs. Greenidge was completely out-of-form before this series and few were asking for him to be dropped. His five-hour and twenty minutes stay were not fluent but vital from the team’s perspective. Next highest score was 29 from Richards, who looked to be in great agony. “My left shoulder is killing me" he later said. The debutant Logie was, unfortunately, run-out on 13. Kapil Dev claimed three of last four wickets to finish with 4 for 45.
India’s second innings started in the worst possible manner when Sunny lost his leg-stump to Michael Holding in the first ball. India finished the third day on 81 for 3, with the match being evenly poised. The 4th day’s play was abandoned due to heavy overnight rain and play was not resumed until an hour into the fifth and final day.
At tea on the final day, a draw appeared inevitable as India, 168 for six, were 165 in the lead with four wickets standing. Andy Roberts then dramatically changed the course of the match by dismissing Kirmani, Sandhu, and Venkataraghavan in his first over on resumption and completing the rout with the last man, Maninder, in his fourth over. Roberts finished with 5 for 39, a remarkable feat. West Indies were given a target of 172 runs, with 20 minutes plus one hour of Mandatory overs (approximately 26 overs). There was hardly anyone who thought this could be achievable.
Desmond Haynes set them on their way with a delightful 34 off 21 deliveries. But, when mandatory overs started, Kapil Dev removed him and Clive Lloyd quickly. Lloyd had come early due to Viv’s shoulder injury. Richards finally came in, played first three deliveries watchfully and lofted the 4th one from Venkataraghavan into the stands. Suddenly, the game started changing. Today, many cricket fans wonder regarding how Viv would have played in modern T-20 format. One can look no further than this innings. He was exceptional and merciless on that day.
After a quick partnership of 66 runs, Greenidge was bowled by Kapil. Lloyd sprung one more surprise to promote Andy Roberts. But, the move did not work as Kapil removed him quickly. 27 were required for last 3 overs and Kapil gave the ball to Mohinder Amarnath.
Richards deposited the second ball of Amarmath’s over into Kingston Club stand for a six. Next ball was hit for another four. Next ball had another lofted shot from Richards and this time, Kapil Dev caught him at Long off. Richards finished with 61 from 36 balls, with five fours and four sixes. It seemed India could still save the match. But, Logie lofted the next ball and it cleared long-off for another six. Equation was comfortable now with 10 runs needed from 2 overs.
Kapil Dev bowled the 19th over and again showed his class. He gave away just 5 runs and claimed Logie’s wicket. 5 was needed off 6 now. Kapil probably erred again by asking Amarnath to bowl the last over. The first ball did not produce any run. But, Jeff Dujon connected the next ball and the ball flew over square leg into the crowd. West Indies were the winner by 4 wickets and with 4 balls to spare. There was pandemonium in the ground as the crowd rushed to the field to congratulate Dujon and other West Indies players. It was only fitting that the Jamaican captain, Dujon, would be giving finishing touch in this dramatic chase. For Indian players and fans, it was difficult to believe that they had lost the match from that position during Tea time. A lot of them kept on asking “Why Amarnath for the last over?”
Andy Roberts was the Man of the match for his nine wickets. He set up the chase with his post tea spell. A great bowler. A memorable finish.