Recalling when India failed to chase 120 against West Indies
India had toured West Indies for a five-match Test series in 1997 under the captaincy of Sachin Tendulkar. Courtney Walsh was the West Indies captain and was confident of defeating India in their own backyard.
In the first two matches, India were neck to neck with West Indies but both the matches had ended in a draw. In the third match, a pitch with lots of grass was prepared to assist the pacers. Walsh was injured and Brian Lara was made the captain. India also brought extra pacers in Dodda Ganesh in place of Sunil Joshi. Sachin won the toss and elected to field first. The three Indian seamers bowled really well and Ventakesh Prasad was the pick of the bowler from the Indian side and he picked a fifer. But from the West Indies, it was Chanderpaul who came to bat when the first wicket fell and he scored an unbeaten 137. Important runs from Ambrose took West Indies to 298 in the first innings.
In reply, India lost Laxman early but Tendulkar and Dravid shared a 170 run partnership. Tendulkar played his shots and was looking at his very best until he got caught by Campell off Bishop. The television suggested it was a no ball. There were no big contributions from others and India were bundled out for 319 taking an insignificant lead of just 21 runs.
In the third innings, India replied back strongly. They got Chanderpaul and Williams early but Lara played a counterattacking inning and scored 45 from 67 balls. Indian seamers were relentless and picked wickets at regular intervals. West Indies at one stage were 107 for 9 with just 86 ahead. Ambrose with Dhillion struck a 33 run partnership which was the highest for the innings which looked irrelevant at that stage. Sachin just used the three seamers and Kuruvilla picked up a five-wicket haul.
India needed just 120 to win in the fourth innings and were confident of chasing it and taking the lead in the series. West Indies had never defended such a low total. The fourth day started with India standing at the brink of their first win in the Caribbean since the successful 400-plus run chase in 1976. Laxman and Sidhu opened for India and knew it won't be easy. The pitch had uneven bounce with some balls rising and some keeping low. Rose in his first spell picked the Indian top three, though replay showed that the delivery on which Sidhu got out was a no ball.
Ian Bishop got the big wicket of Sachin Tendulkar caught in the slips. Sourav Ganguly also soon went to the pavilion. Indian hopes were now on Azharuddin but he got an unplayable delivery and with him went Indian hopes. Soon the Indian tail got out and Indian were bowled out for 81 in less than 36 overs. It was an impressive bowling performance by the three West Indies bowlers Ian Bishop, Ambrose and Rose.
India would have been really frustrated to have not chased even 120. It is said that Tendulkar was really disappointed with the team's performance and he didn't talk to the teammates for a few days.
The crowd went wild and Brian Lara became the sixth West Indies captain to win his first test match as captain. The next two test matches were rain affected and ended in a draw. West Indies won the series 1-0.