India have lost six of the seven Tests they have played at the Kensington Oval?
(30 April 2002)
Unlike Port of Spain, the Indians don't have fond memories of the
Kensington Oval at Barbados, the venue of their upcoming third
Test against the West Indies. Once the finest cricketing arena in
the Caribbean, the ground that hosted the first Test in the West
Indies as far back as in 1930 has seen India end up on the losing
side in Tests on as many as six occasions. The only time they
salvaged a draw was in 1971, thanks to hundreds from Dilip
Sardesai and Sunil Gavaskar.
The tale of Indian woe at the ground began on their first tour of
the Caribbean in 1953, when they suffered their only loss of the
series, beaten by a whopping margin of 142 runs. The next tour in
1962 was to see India thrashed yet again, this time by an innings
and 30 runs. Strangely, for a ground renowned as one of the
fastest and bounciest during that period, it was the West Indian
spinners Sonny Ramadhin, Alf Valentine and Lance Gibbs who were
the chief architects of these two wins.
By 1976, however, the West Indies had assembled their fearsome
battery of pace bowlers, and the big men were only too delighted
to take over the task of blowing the Indian challenge apart. Andy
Roberts and Michael Holding played a significant role in gaining
their team a 1-0 lead at the end of the series opener, claiming
nine Indian wickets in the match. But a spinner too made his
presence felt; David Holford, a leg-spinning all-rounder who went
on to play 24 Tests for the West Indies, returned career-best
figures of 5-23 in the Indian first innings.
By 1983, the fiery pace quartet was more unwilling to share the
spoils; they claimed 19 of the 20 Indian wickets to fall, the
20th eluding them as Syed Kirmani ran himself out.
Ian Bishop and Malcolm Marshall led the charge of the quicks in
1989, which again saw the four quicks - Curtly Ambrose and
Courtney Walsh were the two others - claim 19 of the 20 Indian
wickets that fell. It was Dilip Vengsarkar who denied them the
20th scalp this time, failing to make it to the crease after he
had made 20 in the first innings.
The next Test between the two sides at the ground, played in
March 1997, offered the Sachin Tendulkar-led Indian side a fine
chance to script their country’s first win at the ground. The
captain himself led from the front, making 92 before he was
unfortunately caught off an Ian Bishop no-ball that escaped the
umpire’s attention. The tourists still managed to eke out a 21-
run first-innings lead, and this, followed by the dismissal of
the West Indians for just 140 in the second innings, seemed to
have all but sealed an Indian win.
At least, that was what their supporters in Barbados thought as
they made arrangements for celebratory dinners and parties. One
senior Indian player though, a former captain himself, did not
share their exuberance. He felt that chasing 120 on a wicket
where the ball was keeping alarmingly low was an almost
He was to be proven right. The West Indies only had to call upon
the services of three fast bowlers - Ambrose, Bishop and Franklyn
Rose. In just 35.5 overs, the trio managed to bowl the Indians
out for 81. VVS Laxman, playing as opener, was the top-scorer
with 19. The 38-run win was to clinch the West Indians the series
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