The World Cup Windies avenged - and how!

RAJU BHARATAN

HERE is hoping the West Indies at Chepauk lived to fight another Eden day! For Eden is not where India alone first avenged herself on World Champions Australia. Eden is where the West Indies settled (3-0) her World Cup score with Kapil Dev's India.

A score that saw, side by side, Clive Lloyd & co cut through the one-day series, too, like a swathe. The West Indies' 5-0 ODI blackwash of India here was sweet revenge (within a mere six-month span) for the World Cup so stunningly Lord's surrendered to Kapil Dev's India on the Saturday afternoon of June 25, 1983.

I remind Carl Hooper's team of the spitfire spirit in which the West Indies then came to India, Malcolm Marshall presenting the aspect of a dragon in full cry. The timorous way Hooper's West Indies got swept away (an innings and 112 runs) by Sourav's India in the first Test at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium surely is not the stuffing of which the Caribbeans are traditionally made. From the time the West Indies first came to India, from the point Everton Weekes in the 1948-49 series here hit his fifth Test hundred in succession, India has expected to encounter, in the West Indies, an adversary worthy of its steelband.

All kudos to Rahul that the Mumbai Test saw him come within a ton of matching Everton. Cramped, Rahul would not have had a leg to stand on if he had failed to complete that 100th run for his fourth consecutive Test ton! It still is Everton's contention that a sixth ton was his for the taking as he was most unfairly adjudged run out, when 90, at Chepauk - on that Thursday of January 27, 1949, during the fourth Test there. By contrast, Rahul on 98 was performing in a technological era in which it is 'a third eye for a third eye'. While Everton, on 90, was at the arbit run-out mercy of square-leg umpire B. J. Mohoni.

But we were on the business of 'an eye for an eye' that saw Clive Lloyd's West Indies Green Park herself at Kanpur on the Friday of October 21, 1983, for the Test series opener. We were on how the series sparks flew as Malcolm Marshall, slaking his World Cup antipathy towards India after the West Indies had raised a total of 454, blisteringly reduced Kapil's Devils to 18 for four. By accounting, in a Navjot bicycle row, for Sunil Gavaskar (0), Aunshuman Gaekwad (4), plus Dilip Vengsarkar (14) in the wake of Mohinder Amarnath (0). 'Dial 001000 for Mohinder' became the series punchline as Big Black Lloyd's West Indies did everything possible, in its pacy power, to make India feel browned off from the first Test itself.

Yet 'Calypsolo' performer Sunil Gavaskar the West Indies never could halt in his run-hungry stride. Indeed Sunil drove Marshall to near despair as he got after this superquick with a vengeance for that Kotla Test 121 - bringing Gavaskar on a 29-ton par with Bradman. Sunil, after a sketchy start, decided it was his day and just let himself go, reaching 50 off 37 balls, 100 off 94 balls - with 13 fours and a six! How highly the West Indies regarded Sunil Gavaskar as a world-class batsman became manifest as Jeff Dujon, standing watching behind, asked for a gift of the bat with which Gavaskar thus caught up with Bradman. Dujon was like a kid presented with his most cherished toy as Sunil graciously acceded to his willowy wish.

Clive Lloyd was even more generous. In M. J. Akbar's 'Sunday', Clive Lloyd wrote (under his own byline) that Sunil Gavaskar was the world's best in his estimate. Clive Lloyd added that he really knew nothing about Bradman since he had never himself seen The Don bat! But he had, Clive argued, viewed Sunil come to tempestuous terms with the West Indies' fastest bowlers for nearly a decade, so it was his measured appraisal that Sunil was the world's best. Sunny only upheld Clive Lloyd's listing by the mean manner in which he ground the West Indies into the Chepauk dust as the sixth Test saw Gavaskar stay put through 644 minutes for 236 not out. A run marathon in which Sunny hit but 23 fours while coaxing two fives out of Caribbean hands! The series, by then, was over for all save Sunil. After all, Gavaskar still had Sir Donald Bradman's 29 Test hundreds to surpass!

Clive Lloyd, having proclaimed Sunil as the world's best beyond Bradman, felt chagrined to witness Gavaskar stand his ground on the fourth morning of that sixth (Chepauk) Test. For the Caribbeans were convinced that Sunny had gloved a sharply rising one from Marshall to third slip. But Sunil just pointed to below his right shoulder and umpire Swarup Kishen looked David Shepherdly unmoved. As Sunil reached his Bradman record-breaking 30th Test century between lunch and tea (having batted for 271 minutes), not one member of the West Indies team, not even Clive Lloyd, walked up to shake hands. Was Sunil put out in the result? Not on your life - like Vijay Merchant, Sunil just asked for fresh guard (upon reaching his 30th Test ton) and further dug in his heels to be 149 not out at the end of the day. On the futile fifth morning, Kapil Dev (by then perhaps sensing that he had to return India's captaincy to Gavaskar) let Sunil pass Vinoo Mankad's record 231 - hit against Henry Cave's New Zealand in the fifth Test at the Corporation Stadium, Madras, during January 1956. As Sunny returned with 236, bat in hand, Clive Lloyd knew that there had been a price to pay for ranking Sunil Gavaskar as the world's best. Clearly Sunil had not forgiven himself for yielding his wicket on 90 in the third Test at Ahmedabad, when within Gujarat Stadium sight of his 30th Test ton - immediately after hitting that 121 in the second Test at Kotla. I later asked Sunil if it was not a nasty lifter from Michael Holding at which he had willy-nilly to play, for Clive Lloyd gratefully to hold the slip catch. "Yet not such a difficult ball that I couldn't have withdrawn my bat in the nick of time!" came back Sunil. "I 'followed' it when I needn't have, you know."

That is Sunil all over, even while insisting that he never did look at the scoreboard. Sunny never needed to, he did the century sum in the head! Sunil well knew he was then exactly 90 and that he had to get his head down to ensure his 30th Test ton. For once he faltered, that is why it had to be double hundred to boot at Chepauk. If Lloyd's West Indies did feel it had Sunil before he reached his 30th hundred for India in that Chepauk Test, that was all the more reason for Sunil to rub it in by staying firm till the cowboys came home - with 236 not out. Not that Clive Lloyd and his team cared too much about what Sunil did to them here at Chepauk. The Test that most mattered to the West Indies had been the previous one at Eden. A Test the West Indies needed ruthlessly to win to seal the rubber 3-0.

In that needle fifth Test seeing India whipped by an innings and 46 runs at Eden, Malcolm Marshall, as the match got under way, produced an ultra-sharp short one, coming at blinding speed to Sunil (0). All that even Sunny could do here was to play a reflex-action shot to be gobbled up by Jeff Dujon behind. Then came that wild shot Sunil essayed in the second stanza (with India 136 in arrears) to a ball from Michael Holding nearly a yard outside the off-stump. The catch that Sunil (20) thus wantonly edged to Jeff Dujon had all Calcutta in a tizzy. At the airport that evening, the Gavaskars even had problems getting their seats (back to Bombay) endorsed by the ticketing staff looking upon Sunil as having nothing Eden worth while to declare!

Clive Lloyd and his men, of course, felt fulfilled about having clinched a series via a Calcutta Test that saw Sunil looking even more diminished than five-foot-four and three-quarter! That was on Wednesday, December 14, 1983. Just three days after that, on the Saturday of December 17, 1983, the West Indies sailed through the final one-day international at Gauhati, victors by six wickets, to make it a clean 5-0 sweep as the final champagne sip. Result - India's World Cup was that much less full. Traumatised, the nation called for Kapil Dev's head as captain just 170 days after he had lifted the World Cup high, higher, still higher at Lord's. How this game brings you crashing down just when you have the feeling of being on top of the world!

Last time out, Sourav's India thrashed Nasser Hussain's England in the first Test exactly the way she cleaned up Carl Hooper's West Indies in Mumbai now. After that, just when Sourav's India was counting her glamorous chicks, Nasser's England clawed her way back into the Test series.

All India would be sorely disappointed if the West Indies, in moving from Everton to Carlton, journeys to Eden with the series not open after Chepauk. For Eden was where Carl Hooper showed his true-blue colours with 100 not out in the December-end 1987 third Test. Vivian Richards' West Indies then went into the three-Test series in India eliminated, for the first time, from the final round of the World Cup. Still the West Indies had enough light left in her lantern to win the Test series in India 1-0. Win the West Indies might or might not this time out. But lose the West Indies never again must the way she did the Mumbai Test. Test-drive herself to greater effort must Carl Hooper's West Indies in the spin from Chepauk to Eden.

Otherwise, the sad verdict could be that the West Indies without Brian Lara is trying to play Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. On the Eden stage where our own Hamlet, V. V. S. Laxman, wooed and won Wisden, if still in search of his Ophelia.