After a dominant show by the ‘Men in Blue’ in the limited-overs fixtures in their tour of the US and the Caribbean, India gear up for the contest that will mark their debut in the ICC World Test Championship.
The historic moment for the number one-ranked Test side in the world will take place at North Sound, Antigua against the Jason Holder-led West Indian side come Thursday. Much like the T20Is and ODIs preceding the two-Test series, Virat Kohli and company start as strong favourites.
India, however, can ill-afford to treat the West Indians as pushovers given the steady improvement the hosts have shown over the course of the ongoing tour. Holder’s men will also draw a lot of confidence from their 2-1 series victory over England earlier this year. As much of a confidence booster that series win was, it also served to highlight the potential that the current generation of West Indian cricketers possess, that of reliving the glory of the old.
The Indo-Windies rivalry is heavily tilted in favour of the subcontinental side in the current era, both due to the sharp decline of the Windies side from the mid-1990s as well as the rapid improvement of the Indian team in the last decade. The current situation can, however, be perceived as a role-reversal of sorts from that of the 1970s and the 1980s, the era of the mighty, all-conquering West Indian team, one that dominated like few sides or individuals have in sport.
Delving a bit further into the history between these two teams, the India-West Indies rivalry has made for some memorable moments on the cricketing field, whether it be the bloody carnage at Sabina Park in 1976 or Sachin Tendulkar’s emotionally-charged farewell Test at the Wankhede nearly four decades later.
The rivalry has had some of the lesser-known names or upcoming talents making their mark in the sport, some of whom went on to convert those starts into long, fulfilling careers. There are also cases of one-time wonders who faded away after a superlative performance or two.
Here, we narrow down the list of some of West Indian cricket's lesser-known bowlers who registered memorable performances in a short span of time, including against India, but couldn’t really live up to their billing elsewhere or carry on the momentum for the remainder of their careers:
Patrick Patterson: Patterson’s story is a perfect example of short-lived glory.
During a burst in the mid to late-1980s, the Jamaican infused fear into many a batsman of that era, including and especially Englishman Graham Gooch. Sadly for him, his days in international cricket were numbered, and he eventually faded away into the oblivion around the time Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose fully took over the reigns of the West Indian attack.
One of Patterson’s more successful tours was India, 1987, in which he finished as the second-highest wicket-taker in the series, collecting 17 wickets at an average and economy of 26.82 and 3.89, including a five-wicket haul each in the Delhi (5/24) and Mumbai (5/68) Tests.
Franklyn Rose: Rose’s name is often synonymous with the 1997-98 series between the two sides in the Caribbean, in which he collected 18 wickets (average: 22.33; economy: 2.84) to finish as the leading wicket-taker after Anil Kumble, whose tally was one more than his.
The pacer made a superb debut in the Kingston Test with figures of 6/100, and played a vital role alongside Ian Bishop and Curtly Ambrose in triggering a spectacular Indian batting collapse at Bridgetown, skittling the visitors out for 81 while defending a modest target of 120. The defeat is still fresh in the mind of fans and experts and is brought up as a point of reference every now and then when it comes to the batting department’s ability to chase a target down.
Rose, however, couldn’t reproduce the magic in subsequent tours, making his final international appearance just three years after his debut.
Adam Sanford: Much-like Rose, Sanford’s cricketing story revolves primarily around a single series — against India in their 2002 tour of the Caribbean.
Sanford, the first indigenous Caribbean cricketer to represent the West Indies, was part of the playing XI for all five Tests in the series. Six of the 15 wickets that he collected in the series came at crucial junctures. His 3/20 playing a key role in India getting bowled out for a paltry 102 after being put in to bat in the third Test, a turning point in the series at a time when India were leading the five-match rubber 1-0.
He then collected a match-winning 3/48 in the series decider at Kingston, helping the Windies bowl India out for 252 after setting them an improbable 408 to win.
Pedro Collins: Collins’ association with India goes a long way back in his career, even before he made his West Indies debut. The left-arm Barbadian pacer bowled a memorable spell for West Indies A against India in 1998 that helped propel him into the senior team a year later.
The 2002 home series against India saw Collins miss out on a spot in the XI in the first two Tests, but feature in each of the subsequent ones. Collins collected nine wickets in the series, nowhere close to that of Mervyn Dillon, Cameron Cuffy and Sanford. He did, however, play an important supporting role in the Kingston victory, collecting 3/60 in the second innings to prove an ideal foil for Sanford from the other end.
He also appeared to have Sachin Tendulkar’s number in that series, dismissing him thrice in as many Tests.
Ravi Rampaul: Once a key member of the West Indian side earlier this decade, Rampaul now plies his trade with Derbyshire under a Kolpak contract, his fortunes in international cricket having dwindled post-2015.
Rampaul peaked as a cricketer between the 2011 ICC World Cup and the 2012 T20 World Cup, enjoying a healthy run in the home Test series against India that immediately followed India's triumph in the 50-over event in 2011.
The Trinidadian got important top-order wickets that helped get the Windies off to positive starts. His three-wicket burst in the second Test at Barbados saw India collapse to 38/4, before VVS Laxman and Suresh Raina mounted a rescue in the form of a 117-run partnership, helping the visitors breach the 200-run mark.
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