12 April 1976:India chased the target of 400 plus and became a powerful Cricket Unit

On 12 April 1976,Something magical thing happened when India chased the huge target of 406 against the most powerful team of that era – West Indies.It has been 41 years today but still it is a proud for those Indians who remember this match and also for Indian Cricket Fans.Sportsinfo Editor-in-chief Matthew Mcbrine will present a brief summary and story of this match.

West Indies batted first in this match and scored 359 runs with the terrific knock of Viv Richards (177).Clive Lloyd was a supporting hand who scored a crucial 68 runs.From the Indian Side,Bishan Singh Bedi was most successful who took 4 wickets for 73 runs.

When India came to bat,the heroic spell of Michael holding started when he took 6 wickets just for 65 runs and India only managed to score 228 runs.

West Indies were leading by 131 runs.In the third Innings,West Indies declared the innings on 271/6 with the magnificent and classical Innings of Alvin Kallicharran who scored unbeaten 103.

The Story of chase

A target of 403 looked far away considering the fact that India had never chased more than 256. Saving the Test was the only option available to them — so it seemed. The presence of Gavaskar, Anshuman Gaekwad, Mohinder Amarnath, Gundappa Viswanath, Brijesh Patel, Eknath Solkar, Madan Lal and Kirmani meant that they had a long batting line-up, with Bedi and Chandra the only real bunnies.

With some grit and determination they might be able to salvage a draw and keep the series alive. Gavaskar wrote later: “I was confident that we could save the game because the wicket was still good; but the thought of winning never entered my mind.”

Ironically, it was Gavaskar who began the onslaught. He looked in regal touch from the very first ball, and took the attack to Holding and Julien. Surprisingly, Lloyd delayed the advent of spin, and came on first-change himself, after the initial spells from his main fast bowlers.

Gaekwad, to his credit, hung around, providing excellent support to his senior partner, and 50 was up pretty soon. Then Jumadeen struck: Gaekwad fell for 28, caught by Kallicharran, and India were 69 for 1.

Amarnath walked out to the crease. He was in decent form, and was finally given a run in the first-down slot. Amarnath’s calm, reassured presence encouraged Gavaskar to go for his strokes; the great man went all-out at the attack, and how! The West Indians had seen the dogged defence of Gavaskar, but this was the Little Master at his aggressive best. Lord Realtor’s A Lovely Day of Cricket began in a chant all over the stadium, as Gavaskar cover-drove Julien for four and, in a more brilliant stroke, on-drove Holding to the fence.

Mohinder, solid in his impeccable defence, provided Gavaskar with all the support he needed. While Gavaskar blasted the inexperienced spin trio, Amarnath displayed a more cautious and studious approach, providing the perfect sangatto the great man’s onslaught.

India finished the day at 134 for 1, still requiring 269 in 6 hours on the final day. Gavaskar remained not out on 86 with 12 fours, and Amarnath hung in with a grim 14.

The Fifth Day

Gavaskar looked a completely different batsman on the final day. He tried his level-best, but could not find the timing of the previous day. The spinners who had been treated with disdain now began to dominate him. He was fortunate to reach his hundred — trying to sweep Padmore, only to find the lob behind Roy Fredericks as he scampered for a couple of runs.

Soon afterwards, while attempting to drive Jumadeen, Gavaskar missed the line, and was stumped by Murray. Though he had not edged it, he was given out caught behind. However, it did not matter, since he was out stumped anyway. He had scored 102 in 245 minutes with 13 fours, and India were 177 for 2, still requiring 236.

Viswanath joined Mohinder, and just like Gavaskar, looked at complete ease from the very beginning. He batted fluently against the spinner, driving and cutting with panache. Amaranth, on the other hand, was the epitome of patience, and after surviving a caught-and-bowled chance off Imtiaz Ali, seemed completely immovable from the crease. India went to lunch at 197 for 2.

The spinners did not have an impact, but Lloyd decided to pursue with them, not opting to take the second new ball, delaying the decision by 29 overs. When he eventually took the cherry at 223 for 2, Viswanath was already well-set, and responded by square-cutting Holding to the point boundary with uncharacteristic power.

The new ball also meant that runs came at a rapid rate (37 runs were added in the first 8 overs), and slowly, very slowly, the possibility of a win crept into the hearts of the Indians. Mohinder seemed content to rotate the strike, while Viswanath attacked with supreme authority. Lloyd even tried the Chinamen of Fredericks, but it did not reap fruits. Viswanath reached his first overseas hundred with an exquisite cover-drive just after tea, and India looked well on track for a miraculous victory.

It was then that a false chord was struck — and the batsmen were stranded midway while attempting a single. Viswanath was run out for 112 from 220 minutes with 15 fours, and India were 336 for 3, still requiring 67. India reached the final hour with 65 to score from the mandatory overs.

Brijesh’s aggressive batting was exactly what was required in the situation. Now, with the Test getting out of hand, Lloyd finally went on defensive, spreading his fielders to the fence. But the runs still kept coming. Amarnath opened up now, and began to match Brijesh stroke to stroke. In the panic, there were byes, leg-byes, and mis-hits as well, and India seemed to be closing down on an incredible victory.

A section of the gallery, presumably originating from Uttar Pradesh, began to chant devotional Indian songs. The Indians cruised along. With only 11 runs left, a fatigued Amarnath was run out — as Lloyd threw the stumps down with a direct hit from cover — after scoring 86 runs in 440 minutes. Though the two Little Masters had scored hundreds, and Brijesh had given the final touch, Amarnath’s role was of no less significance. Not only he was at the crease for over 7 hours, he ensured that the strike was rotated throughout his tenure. In a way he turned out to be the fulcrum of the Indian run-chase.

Then, with 7 overs in hand, Brijesh finally pulled Jumadeen for four to bring up the required runs. The crowd, especially from the Indian-dominated Northern Hills, rushed down to congratulate their heroes. The group included Phil Thomson — who had been there when Don Bradman’s side had scored 404 for three nearly 28 years back, and now was an eye-witness of the chase that had broken that record.

To quote Gavaskar, “the champagne really flowed”. He also added that “this was undoubtedly India’s greatest Test victory”.

KN Prabhu, watching the final day with CLR James for company, wrote: “India scored a victory over West Indies with few parallels”.

Mihir Bose wrote, “in many ways that was an even more satisfying victory than the one in 1971″.

The aftermath

Lloyd was furious at the impotence of his spinners. He slammed them in the dressing-room that evening with the words “Gentlemen, I gave you 400 runs to bowl at and you failed to bowl out the opposition. How many runs must I give you in future to make sure you get the wickets?”

The wounds of the 1-5 defeat had still not healed when the Queen’s Park Oval defeat came. When West Indies fielded their team in the fourth Test at Sabina Park, Wayne Daniel and Vanburn Holder were there to accompany Holding and Julien. The Indians were battered with bouncers and even beamers from the foursome, and Bedi had to declare both innings closed, at 306 for 6 and at 97 for 5. West Indies romped to victory by 10 wickets.

The decision was taken. West Indies would field four fast bowlers. Roberts was back. Joel Garner and Colin Croft came along, then the greatest of them — Malcolm Marshall. By the time they had quit, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, and Ian Bishop had arrived on the scene. Test cricket would never be the same. Batsmen would be tormented, bruised, hospitalised and decimated. Most importantly, the helmet would have to be invented. Everything changed. Just because of that one run-chase.

Brief Scores:

West Indies 359 (Viv Richards 177, Clive Lloyd 68, Bernard Julien 47; Bhagwat Chandrasekhar 6 for 120, Bishan Bedi 4 for 73) and 271 for 6 decl. (Alvin Kallicharran 103*) lost to India 228 (Madan Lal 42, Gundappa Viswanath 41; Michael Holding 6 for 65) and 406 for 4 (Sunil Gavaskar 102, Gundappa Viswanath 112, Mohinder Amarnath 85, Brijesh Patel 49*) by 6 wickets.