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When luck favoured Viv in India

By Rediff Cricket
Last updated on: November 23, 2020 15:35 IST
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Sir Viv Richards

IMAGE: Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, a true batting legend. Photograph: Viv Richards/Twitter
 

'I remember the first time we played, we played in Bangalore, and I never forget this... just the fire crackers and everything was crazy, because here I am and I see 70,000 people in the crowd; maybe more people that on the island that I live, and that for me was huge; and as I was going out from the stairs all these firecrackers and bombs just went off and all of a sudden I slipped and fell straight to the bottom; and I somehow didn't feel like Viv; then the brief innings that I played gave an indication of how I felt.'

Viv Richards remembering his first Test against India in Bangalore on November 22, 1974.

The famous Viv swagger was nowhere on display as he was caught by E A S Prasanna off B S Chandrashekhar for 4 in the first innings.

Viv didn't fare better in the second innings either, this time snapped up by Syed Abid Ali off Chandra for 3.

'I found that Chandra was difficult to play, and, lucky for me, because he didn't play for the second match. I made 192 and that was the confidence that you needed to play Test matches,' Viv recalled in a conversation with Harsha Bhogle, the transcript of which you can read as the first link on the left.

'The Indian tour was very special for me. My father used to say that if you go to India and start playing all the best spinners in the world then I will start believing in you,' Viv added.

As the legendary cricket journalist Raju Bharatan recalled in a Rediff.com column, after his failures in the Bangalore Test, Richards would have been dropped for the second Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi.

But Lawrence Rowe -- whose place Viv had taken in the West Indies team for the Bangalore game after the triple centurion had an eye problem -- was unfit for the Delhi Test.

Chandra was injured and out of the Delhi Test as was India's captain Mansur Ali Khan 'Tiger' Pataudi.

Clive Lloyd, the West Indian skipper, decided to stick with Richards for the Delhi Test. First stoke of good luck.

Then another amazing bolt of good fortune came Viv's way!

On 12, he nicked stand-in Indian captain Srinivas Venkataraghavan to wicket-keeper Farokh Engineer.

The Indians all went up in appeal.

Not Out, Umpire Madhav Gothoskar declared.

Viv made the most of that reprieve and added 180 more runs to his score, finishing at 192 not out (6 sixes, 20 fours, 297 balls, 321 minutes).

As Mr Bharatan noted in his Rediff.com column, 'Once Chandra returned with the third Test at Calcutta, India's 'mystery man' began weaving a web around 'Vivy' even in the face of that 192 Kotla not out.'

'Richards's subsequent scores of 15 & 47 at Calcutta; 50 & 2 at Madras; 1 & 39 not out at Bombay (in the remaining three Tests of the series) suggest that Vivian was by no means, yet, the monarch of all he surveyed, even if he fell to Chandra but once in those 6 innings.'

'Even on the Pakistan leg of that subcontinental tour (in February-March 1975),' Mr Bharatan pointed out, 'Viv Richards made but 7 & 0 in the Lahore Test; and 10 in the Karachi Test.'

'Thus, from 7 Tests (5 in India and 2 in Pakistan), Viv Richards's scores read: 4 & 3; 192 not out; 15 & 47; 50 & 2; 1 & 39 not out; 7 & 0; and 10.'

'An aggregate of 370 runs from 12 Test innings (twice not out) for an average of only 37'

Viv Richards celebrates a century

But all those numbers, Viv didn't recall as he remembered on Monday, '46 years go, I started my first ever game for @windiescricket. I can't express how lucky & incredible I felt representing this team, who have always produced legendary cricketers. Always proud to have played with & against some exceptional talents. It was an incredible journey!'

Who knows what would have happened if the dice of fate had not gone Viv's way during the Delhi Test?

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