Samir Chopra December 21, 2010

India's Great Misses: Exhibit Two - The 1985 Boxing Day Test

India have never beaten Australia in Australia
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India have never beaten Australia in Australia. They've won Tests but have never managed to win a series. This history is made possible by two spectacular instances of snatching draws from the jaws of victory. Nothing showcases this better than the Boxing Day Test of the 1985-86 series, the fifth day of which shall forever live in infamy. The post-traumatic stress induced by this Test match still gives me the midnight chills.

A brief introduction to Exhibit Numero Dos in my rogues gallery of Great Indian Misses. It was the second Test of the three-Test series, to be followed by the endlessly prolonged shenanigans of the triangular world cricket series (featuring New Zealand as well). The first Test in Adelaide, which featured a carrying-the-bat epic by Sunil Gavaskar, had ended in a draw. When the second Test began, India immediately seized the advantage by reducing Australia to 210-8 on the first day. When the second day's play ended, India looked set for a sizeable lead, thanks to their 187-3, a patient response to Australia's eventual 262 all out. The next day, things got better, even if a little slowly, as India moved to 431-9 (my memory fails me as I do not remember whether rain cost any playing time on the first four days). The Indian middle order of Amarnath, Vengsarkar, Azhar, and Shastri all crawled a bit, but still by close of the third day, a 169-run lead was on the board.

The next day, India were bowled out for 445, giving them a lead of 183. By close of play, they had reduced Australia to 228-8. Allan Border was on 98 not out, playing a familiar role. Incredibly, Australia were only 45 runs ahead with two wickets in hand as the fifth day's play began.

Like any faithful Test fan, I awoke early in the morning to catch the radio commentary. Test wins in Australia were rare; I wanted to be listening in when this happened. The commentators on the radio briefly mentioned impending rain in the afternoon, but I paid little heed to it. The post-lunch session seemed far away. India would have this wrapped up by then.

A few minutes later, Australia were nine down for 231 as Bruce Reid fell to Shivlal Yadav. I snuggled a little tighter into my blanket on that cold Delhi morning, and turned up the radio just a bit. It was still dark outside. My uncle, similarly snug in his own blanket in that cold room, grinned at me. We were faithful fans; we had worked hard for this; victory would be sweet.

I did say Reid was dismissed, didn't I? Not Border? Right. Because from there on, Border and Dave Gilbert proceeded to add 77 runs for the 10th wicket. Not only did Border expertly farm the strike (while letting Gilbert play himself in gradually), he often did so by scoring three runs off the last ball. A single or a three both let you retain strike off the last ball; the latter has the added advantage of moving the scoreboard along just a little quicker. These runs were gold, and every single one of them contributed to the steady lengthening of icicles down my spine.

And that was because the radio commentators were constantly reminding us of the forecast of rain for the afternoon. As Australia's lead grew, as they pushed off the moment of reckoning, they crept closer to the safety of the rain (it promised to be the kind of torrential summer downpour that Melbourne is capable of putting on).

Finally, Border was dismissed for 163; Gilbert remained not out on 13 off 65 deliveries. India needed 126 to win. They had ample time. If it didn't rain. But they knew the rain was coming. They would get perhaps 20, perhaps 30 overs. But we were the world champions of one-day cricket. And, we had won the 1985 VCA Cup in Australia in fine style as well. Our openers included Kris Srikkanth, the hero, along with Ravi Shastri, who was also featured in that batting line-up, of that win. Surely we could put on a chase, with one eye on the clock and the clouds and pull this off. A win in Australia deserved nothing less than an elevation of the adrenaline levels of the batsmen, even if the bowlers had suddenly gone toothless in the morning.

But incredibly, in the most bizarre exhibition of Test-match batting that it has been my misfortune to listen to, India dawdled. Like narcoleptics, the Indian top order decided it was time for a nap. Gavaskar scored 8 off 54; Amarnath 3 off 27; Vengsarkar 1 off 12; in comparison, Srikkanth went berserk scoring 38 off 61. And all the while, the commentators steadily informed us of the impending rain. I stared at my radio set in disbelief. Was this really happening? What was the Indian team doing? Were they mad? In utter disgust, my uncle stormed out to go get a haircut. I slumped down, panicking, wondering if there was some deeper strategy being pursued by the batsmen in the middle that I hadn't divined. But none seemed apparent.

Finally, the rain came. India, chasing 126 to win, were 59-2 off 25 overs. The rest of the day's play was washed out. The game was over. Close, but no cigar.

India could have taken a 1-0 lead, and given the state of the Sydney pitch in those days and the lack of bite in the Aussie bowling (revealed by the run-fest in the next game, which again, India came close to winning) India could have had their first series win in Australia.

Twenty-four years on, I haven't forgotten this Test. Nothing summed up pusillanimous cricket like this did. If there are times my criticism of the lack of enterprise of Indian cricketing teams (and their captains) is harsh, I suspect it's because I think the memory of this fiasco lurks in my subconscious. Its memory will take some erasing.

Samir Chopra lives in Brooklyn and teaches Philosophy at the City University of New York. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • murugan on January 14, 2011, 16:17 GMT

    i'm so glad i was 3 when this test happened. But I do have very distinct memories of the gloom surrounding my home. Gavaskar has done a lot of good things for indian cricket, but everytime he complains of slow strike rate in the commentary box, this test match's scoreboard must be shown to him. 8 from 54 balls chasing a smallish total for a historic victory is unpardonable for someone hailed as a pioneer of india's revolution in test cricket. Seriously, what was he thinking ? Was he given a chance to explain his actions ? I remember Mongia was once banned for a ODI for not pursuing a gettable target.

  • Gerry the Merry on January 14, 2011, 15:58 GMT

    It is difficult to argue that Gavaskar was a team man, but given that he made 221 after losing the captaincy to Venkataraghavan despite leading India to a win in a home series against WI, it is equally difficult to argue that he wasn't. Still an incredibly great batsman under pressure.

  • HARSHWARDHAN S PANDE on January 4, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    Sameer Chopra have great writing ability.I like story very much.

  • WOG on December 30, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    Since his 236 n.o. batting at Number 4 in the December 2003 West Indies Test in Madras - when he ironically walked in at 0 for 2 - Gavaskar wanted to drop down the order. He was a disaster as opener in the England home series of 1984-85, which India lost 2-1 under his captaincy. He toured Sri Lanka under Kapil in 1985, and batted at Number 5 in the three Tests. For the Australia series that followed, Kapil as skipper insisted that Sunny open the innings. Gavaskar was not happy, but had no choice. In the Adelaide Test, he opened but retired hurt when in the 30s, and returned only at 247 for 5 to complete 166 n.o. Melbourne followed immediately thereafter - with Gavaskar in a batting position he had decided was not for him. It would appear his final day run crawl had something to do with this. But why blame him alone? Surely, Kapil could have sent Binny or Shastri to open - both have done so in Tests - and promoted himself to Number 3?

  • Number_5 on December 26, 2010, 21:42 GMT

    As a young (Aussie) cricket fan i recall this test for many of the similar reasons as the author and for the debut of one S.R.Waugh. We all knew the rain was coming and were perplexed by the Indian batting especially given some of Srikkanth swashbuckling innings that summer (of discontent for Aussies). I asked some friends to compare the Australian team for the first test of this 85/86 series against the current mob, who had the better team? Pretty much all commented that the 85/86 team was better, have a look for yourself. Now here is the punch line...that team was regarded as the worst Aus team of all time. What does that say for the current mob? Dont worry Indian fans, we host you here next summer and I cant wait to see the likes of Sachin, Dravid, VVS and co. I think your wait may be over, only the gods can stop an Indian victory next summer.

  • Agnihothra on December 23, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    Hey Samir I remember this one really well.Like you I was also hooked upto radio commentary(but only after my dad went to work). Kapil Dev also criticized the umpires who it seems were guilty of not giving Reid out even after he was caught straight off bat(received wisdom through the next day's THE HINDU news paper).

  • chandu on December 23, 2010, 4:09 GMT

    that tme i was at 6yrs,i cant believe that why these so called cricket legends done some costly mistakes.while going through the score card in that match now its look like a shame for us.If we get the same chance again this team could do better....

  • lalit on December 22, 2010, 18:44 GMT

    nostalgic but sad.u touched d raw nerve,we shd really be happy that our dressing room is free of that kind of politics today .and really this is d way life goes on wen we remember 2007 lords match

  • Raman on December 22, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    The great rain robbery. I was very very annoyed then. But then India were lucky to escape with draw against England at Lords in 2007 due to rain. Such is life.

  • Arvind on December 22, 2010, 12:35 GMT

    In the words of Shane Warne, "you have to be prepared to lose a Test to win it." Sadly, our team is never going to learn it. Longmemory brought back memories of the final Test in England, when Rahul Dravid found 319 runs lead not sufficient to bowl out England after they were bowled out easily in the first innings. It was at least heartening to note that Zaheer Khan publicly disagreed with Dravid's decision to "rest the bowlers" saying that the bowlers were indeed eager to have another go at the England batsmen. Of course, that matter was quickly hushed up.

  • murugan on January 14, 2011, 16:17 GMT

    i'm so glad i was 3 when this test happened. But I do have very distinct memories of the gloom surrounding my home. Gavaskar has done a lot of good things for indian cricket, but everytime he complains of slow strike rate in the commentary box, this test match's scoreboard must be shown to him. 8 from 54 balls chasing a smallish total for a historic victory is unpardonable for someone hailed as a pioneer of india's revolution in test cricket. Seriously, what was he thinking ? Was he given a chance to explain his actions ? I remember Mongia was once banned for a ODI for not pursuing a gettable target.

  • Gerry the Merry on January 14, 2011, 15:58 GMT

    It is difficult to argue that Gavaskar was a team man, but given that he made 221 after losing the captaincy to Venkataraghavan despite leading India to a win in a home series against WI, it is equally difficult to argue that he wasn't. Still an incredibly great batsman under pressure.

  • HARSHWARDHAN S PANDE on January 4, 2011, 13:51 GMT

    Sameer Chopra have great writing ability.I like story very much.

  • WOG on December 30, 2010, 16:47 GMT

    Since his 236 n.o. batting at Number 4 in the December 2003 West Indies Test in Madras - when he ironically walked in at 0 for 2 - Gavaskar wanted to drop down the order. He was a disaster as opener in the England home series of 1984-85, which India lost 2-1 under his captaincy. He toured Sri Lanka under Kapil in 1985, and batted at Number 5 in the three Tests. For the Australia series that followed, Kapil as skipper insisted that Sunny open the innings. Gavaskar was not happy, but had no choice. In the Adelaide Test, he opened but retired hurt when in the 30s, and returned only at 247 for 5 to complete 166 n.o. Melbourne followed immediately thereafter - with Gavaskar in a batting position he had decided was not for him. It would appear his final day run crawl had something to do with this. But why blame him alone? Surely, Kapil could have sent Binny or Shastri to open - both have done so in Tests - and promoted himself to Number 3?

  • Number_5 on December 26, 2010, 21:42 GMT

    As a young (Aussie) cricket fan i recall this test for many of the similar reasons as the author and for the debut of one S.R.Waugh. We all knew the rain was coming and were perplexed by the Indian batting especially given some of Srikkanth swashbuckling innings that summer (of discontent for Aussies). I asked some friends to compare the Australian team for the first test of this 85/86 series against the current mob, who had the better team? Pretty much all commented that the 85/86 team was better, have a look for yourself. Now here is the punch line...that team was regarded as the worst Aus team of all time. What does that say for the current mob? Dont worry Indian fans, we host you here next summer and I cant wait to see the likes of Sachin, Dravid, VVS and co. I think your wait may be over, only the gods can stop an Indian victory next summer.

  • Agnihothra on December 23, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    Hey Samir I remember this one really well.Like you I was also hooked upto radio commentary(but only after my dad went to work). Kapil Dev also criticized the umpires who it seems were guilty of not giving Reid out even after he was caught straight off bat(received wisdom through the next day's THE HINDU news paper).

  • chandu on December 23, 2010, 4:09 GMT

    that tme i was at 6yrs,i cant believe that why these so called cricket legends done some costly mistakes.while going through the score card in that match now its look like a shame for us.If we get the same chance again this team could do better....

  • lalit on December 22, 2010, 18:44 GMT

    nostalgic but sad.u touched d raw nerve,we shd really be happy that our dressing room is free of that kind of politics today .and really this is d way life goes on wen we remember 2007 lords match

  • Raman on December 22, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    The great rain robbery. I was very very annoyed then. But then India were lucky to escape with draw against England at Lords in 2007 due to rain. Such is life.

  • Arvind on December 22, 2010, 12:35 GMT

    In the words of Shane Warne, "you have to be prepared to lose a Test to win it." Sadly, our team is never going to learn it. Longmemory brought back memories of the final Test in England, when Rahul Dravid found 319 runs lead not sufficient to bowl out England after they were bowled out easily in the first innings. It was at least heartening to note that Zaheer Khan publicly disagreed with Dravid's decision to "rest the bowlers" saying that the bowlers were indeed eager to have another go at the England batsmen. Of course, that matter was quickly hushed up.

  • Anonymous on December 22, 2010, 8:47 GMT

    Bangalore 1987 test vs Pakistan India require to win 221 were all out for 204 to the spin of Kasim Iqbal and TAusef Ahmed. They reached 204 due to Gavaskar's 96 and 27 extra runs. Pak spinners had taken guidance from Bishen Bedi on how to bowl on that wicket. Day 5 of Chennai 1986 vs Aus the 2nd tied test, set 348 to win in 90 overs- Gavaskar out on 90, Maninder Singh to face the Aus bowlers India score 347/9 and RAvi Shastri not out 47 at the runner end. Maninder given out as lbw, match tied. 1985 and 1986 test series vs Aus ended in 0-0 results and had Kapil DEv as Indian captain. In 1987 Aus managed to win the World Cup held in India under Border's captaincy.

  • Anwar on December 22, 2010, 8:39 GMT

    I truly admit for what bhajrang B vijay has mentioned. I can’t understand what on earth denied sachin getting those 30 runs by keeping the strike to get rid of the innings defeat. I am true and most admiring fan of him. But for any reason, though the team members might have told him to take care of injuries or for that matter, he should have shown the braveness to prolong the innings. How merciless to allow the taienders like debutant Unakdat to face the fiery bouncers of Steyn and Morkel. Let him feel by heart what is correct……now…… or 25yrs later, like we recall 1985 test………….

  • Biggus on December 22, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    Yep, Sunny was a bit like Geoff Boycott-in his own little self-contained, self-centered world. This can have it's advantages of course, in terms of ability to concentrate, but like Boycott, when Sunny wanted to go and play for his averages and ignore the state of play and team needs, there was not a soul in the world he would have listened to. Boycott and Gavaskar are the two most self-centered batsmen I've ever seen.

  • Greg on December 22, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    Yeah, sorry to rub it in, but, hey, everyone beat Australia in the mid-80s - even NZ!! India really missed a chance there. It still hasn't happened (a series win); though they should have a really good chance next time (next season, is it?)

  • Naveen Goyal on December 22, 2010, 4:45 GMT

    As a 14 year old and a die hard fan of cricket, this is one of the few moments which is difficult to take out of head (the others being 1 run losses to Australia in 1992 and 1987 world cups, tied test test in Chennai in 1986). I still remember the rains did came for some time and after that the Umpires didn't start the game for bad light, which was not that bad and the option should have been given to the batting side. I still remember Kapil's frustrations requesting umpires to start proceedings. You have definitely touched the raw nerve. The recent wins against Australia has come as a heeler (India have more wins than austrlia in bilateral tests in past 15 years)

  • Vatsa on December 22, 2010, 4:38 GMT

    This was heart break. Every time I discuss this match with friends it brings out the anguish in me, that how pathetic Gavaskar and Amarnath approached. Even Srikkanth for the dasher he was supposed to be. The series have been 2-0 India, even considering the pathetic umpiring. We were happy making big scores.

    Not sure why Gavaskar is never asked about this innings of his.

  • richard kuipers on December 22, 2010, 3:46 GMT

    Great story Samir, beautifully described. I remember being glued to the TV on the final day here in Sydney and thinking this was a sort–of weak–willed reverse of the brave fight India put up in the incredible 5th Test between India and Australia in 1977-78 (still the greatest series of all time in my opinion and the one that made me a life-long fan of the Indian cricket team courtesy of the spin quartet and great batters like Viswanath and the dashing opener Chauhan and all-rounder Madan Lal, who, as a substitute fielder, took one of the catches of the century to dismiss Peter Toohey in Sydney). Gawd, I could go on forever about that series it was so brilliant. In any case, India were set 493 for victory in that match and got 445 - without a century! If they'd had that kind of spirit at Melbourne in '85 they'd have walked it in. Looking forward to Number 3 in the series.

  • Sankar on December 22, 2010, 1:51 GMT

    Actually the captain was Kapil Dev, not Gavaskar. I still remember this test match; was very very disappointed that India couldn't win. I have a shade of suspicion that, given Gavaskar-Kapil rivalry those days, Gavaskar intentionally batted so slow, influencing Vengsarkar as well. I like Gavaskar very much as a batsman; but his politics are so annoying... After the windies series right after the world cup, he publicly stated in one of his columns that he was happy because Marshall won the man of the series and NOT Kapil; he was mad that Kapil didn't allow him to go on to 300 when Gavaskar was on 236 not out.

    Gavaskar, not a good person at heart

  • Kiran D.S. on December 21, 2010, 22:39 GMT

    I remember this Test match as if it happened yesterday. It was extremely frustating for me while listening to the commentary, with Allan Border farming the strike and scoring all round the wicket. He was once stumped by the wicketkeeper but ruled not out. I still remember seeing the video of this match, and Kapil Dev almost tearing his hair out in anger. After the match Allan Border made a comment, when the Indians complained about the umpiring, that they i.e. Indians were pulling at straws.

  • sajid dar on December 21, 2010, 20:21 GMT

    is it coincidence dat dis articles comes rite wen sachin dnt farm strike to extend dis last test....dnt think so!!dis article has been written to show wat sachin shud hve done without even mentioning bout it!!!

  • Sriram on December 21, 2010, 19:40 GMT

    I remember this match very well - was 14 years old - and it happened exactly as you write. I remember Aussie fans from the suburbs calling the radio station and updating them that the rain had arrived at their homes, and it was almost like a countdown. the only people impervious to the mounting tension were the batsmen. Only wonder if the Aussies bowled too defensively with packed legside fields...in those days, batsmen simply wouldnt go inside out or on the up or over the top if the ball wasnt there to be hit.

  • Rajeev on December 21, 2010, 19:12 GMT

    Yes - that was very upsetting one, particularly when they were limited overs champions. Also, compare this with chase of Oval - Sunil Gavaskar's magnificent 221 and Sushil Doshi's hindi commentary - all the time reminding - agar aap dil ke marij ho to (meaning if you are heart patient, pls switch off the transistor) transistor band kar de.

  • Akash on December 21, 2010, 19:00 GMT

    I was a year old when this match happened, but I'm surprised I didn't know about it! This was as close to cricketing madness as anyone can get! A win in Australia went abegging for crying out loud! I started following cricket in 1996, and since then I remember lost opportunities like Barbados 1997, Johannesburg 1996-97 and of course Chennai 1999... I remember how painful it was to watch when these utterly winnable matches were drawn or lost... So I can perfectly understand how you must've felt listening to this match...

  • Gurjot Singh Ahluwalia on December 21, 2010, 17:22 GMT

    Thank you Samir for sharing this wonderful yet disappointing anecdote. I say its wonderful because I wasnt even born when this match was played and so to read about such a game where India dominated most of the match in a series in Australia and at the MCG, was quite wonderful to know. Yes, like the quintessential Indian team this also had to end in disappointment. And I'm so glad, I wasn't alive to witness such a lethargic and pedestrian batting display. Cant wait for numero 3.

  • Longmemory on December 21, 2010, 17:07 GMT

    I totally relate to Samir's point about current frustrations of certain Indian fans being more understandable given such a history. Our inexplicable defensiveness during the 3rd test against S Africa on the last tour there; batting again instead of forcing England to follow-on during our last tour to England; setting NZ a ridiculous target of over 600 runs in the 4th inning on our last tour there, were all instances of this safety-first taken to nonsensical lengths. Sachin's refusal in this latest test to farm the strike and push on to at least avoid an innings defeat is similar. I have no doubt whatsoever that Lara or Ponting or Inzi or Kallis would have blazed away on the 5th morning to first get to that target and then done everything possible to prolong the innings - because you never know. The only explanation really is a desire to remain not-out as far as I can see. Rankings be damned, this is where we consistently come up short. And it doesn't look like changing anytime soon.

  • sandeep on December 21, 2010, 16:12 GMT

    i really didnt know about this match i must been 5 then i always knew javd miandad hitting chethan sharma for six my elders for ages kept telling me about that but really this was equally bad :-(

  • Prashant on December 21, 2010, 15:32 GMT

    Great story.indians were infact at present also very poor in getting tailenders out. I can remember many matches where tailenders frustrate indian.Also the safety first tactics still follow in india.see the sachins batting in centurion he was playing to score his ton not to save match.he should learn from border which may not happen.The most couragious player india have ever produced are sehwag and harbhajan.

  • Satadru Sen on December 21, 2010, 15:20 GMT

    Good choice. If I'm remembering correctly, Kapil Dev contributed to this episode by gifting single after single to Border, to get Gilbert on strike. Those singles added up. To explain the Indian batting, perhaps we should recall the politics of the Gavaskar-Kapil relationship. Incidentally, had that Test taken place today, there would have been calls for a match-fixing investigation.

  • Srini on December 21, 2010, 14:25 GMT

    The article captured the true feelings of the cricket fans on this Test. India should have won this one hands down. Followed the pattern of India's age old problem of not being able to finish of tail and lost victories going back to early 70s.

  • Naresh on December 21, 2010, 13:30 GMT

    I remember this lost opportunity at MCG and despite this,a win at SCG was imminent and was marred by poor decision on the late declaration . What should have been a 2-0 win ended up with 0-0. Really sad and no other counry would have let go such opportunities.

  • Anonymous on December 21, 2010, 13:09 GMT

    This match further proved Gavaskar's enormous ability to score next to nothing and bat the whole day when playing under somebody else. That 36 off 60 overs in the first World Cup in 1975 was no flash in the pan!

  • retaish on December 21, 2010, 12:59 GMT

    this match was saved by australia due to courtsey of ray isherwood nothing else,period

  • sudha on December 21, 2010, 12:35 GMT

    As soon as I saw the headline I knew this was the match you were referring to.I was a young kind and it left a huge scar and I remember crying in frustration. Praying and hoping against hope that they would be able to come back and make the runs after rain stopped play. I had the same feeling years later, during India's last tour of SA . We won the first test and lost the second. We had a distinct advantage in the third test and Dravid and Tendulkar killed the momentum of the innings in the 2nd innings and eventually lost the team the upper hand with a batting collapse. And SA got the small target in the 4th innings. It was a golden oppurtunity to win a series in SA that was thrown away by India's two most illustrious batsmen. What happens to players of such intelligence that they do this? Thats why as much as I love and admire Dravid and Tendulkar to me VVS Laxman has been the MVP of the Indian team in the last decade. His innings' have helped India win test matches more than anybody

  • Gary on December 21, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    INDIA IS TIGER AT HOME AND RAT ON FOREIGN PITCHES...................................

    AND ALSO INDIA CAN NEVER BEAT AUSTRALIA IN AUSTRALIA IF THEY HAVE THE WINNING SQUAD OF ASHES 2006-07.

  • Bhajrang Bir Vijay on December 21, 2010, 12:25 GMT

    Do I remember this one! You know we shout and crow of Sunil's technical correctness and his brillance as batsman. These facts are beyond dispute, but my God man, when he was slow he was slow. Thank God we have Virender Sehwag today. He is reckless but he makes big hundreds at a fast clip. Border's effort makes me wonder what Sachin was thinking yesterday at Centurion. He made no effort to farm the bowling despite having two wickets in hand. 50 hundreds and all of that is great but where was the never say die spirit from India? I shudder to think that this but it appears to me all Sachin wanted was that 50th hundred. Wasn't he aware there was a lot of talk about rain coming at Centurion yesterday?

  • golandaaz on December 21, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    If you ever mention this test again, I will never read your blogs. I fear that if I ever need to go to a shrink, I will bawl out the trauma this test caused me...

  • arnab on December 21, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    wow so well written.. i was ofcourse too young for this match.. and plus i support australia so i'm thrilled to read this :P but wow i can feel your frustration through your words! I am cursing Gavaskar and co for their stupidity! thats how real you made it sound, kudos to you.. to defend them i can only saw perhaps they thought chasing it would risk them losing?! perhaps the wicket had some demons in it? either way, i hate to degenerate into my internet frenzied generation but i must say this.. ROFL

  • safwan umair on December 21, 2010, 11:34 GMT

    fantastic story samir. And i do agree with Bala Yugandar. Sehwag arrived a decade and a half later for this win to eventuate. 25 overs with him firing on all cylinders would have been 10 overs too many. As a Pakistani fan, i have always envied the commitment, skill and temperament of india's modern day test batsmen. Their number one status as a test team hinges solely on the genius of these great batsmen! However, if and when they retire, filling in their shoes and replacing 30,000 test runs would be a monumental task. The dilemma for BCCI in the future would be the dilemma that the ACB faces today. They have found the task of replacing Hayden, Langer, Gilly, Warne and Mcgrath an impossible one!

  • RSG on December 21, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    I do remember the disappointment at not winning the test, and yes, the Indian top order were to blame. But Sunny Gavaskar was not the captain in that series - Kapil Dev was, and he was quite upset at the way in which the top order batted. The key was that Indians have always been poor (still are) in shutting down the late order batsmen (I remember Tony Mann scoring a century in 1977-78) and perhaps there was some fear that India would suddenly collapse a la Australia in 1981. It is just that we were not used to the idea of winning overseas and did not take the risk. It was a good opportunity wasted

  • farooq on December 21, 2010, 10:21 GMT

    superb story

  • ab on December 21, 2010, 10:12 GMT

    I do remember that Dave Gilbert had a couple of very close lbws (if I remember, Kapil Dev was the bowler at the other end) that the umpires (who were both australian since the concept of neutral umpires was yet to come in) ruled it in Gilberts favor -live telecast would have exposed the bad umpiring -

    having said that, Sunil Gavaskar was definitely at fault as his captaincy was alway safety first -had he been more courageous, he would have started Indian second innings batting with Kapil Dev and Srikanth followed by Chetan Sharma -the indian team manager also erred by not advising to the captain -

  • Vivek Bhandari on December 21, 2010, 9:35 GMT

    Yeah…India have been at the receiving end for quite some Test matches. I remember the Chennai Test match in the 2004 series against Australia in which we had Viru-Yuvi as the opening combination. D.Martyn and J.Dizzy Gillespie took the match away setting a decent target (220+). And Indians were on the course scoring 20-odd at stumps on the 4th day. However, the Chennai rains came and washed the 5th day. It changed the momentum of the series. And then came the Nagpur pitch and the infamous exclusion of Ganguly and Harbhajan. India lost miserably in Nagpur and managed to make it 2-1 at Mumbai. It could have been so different if the Chennai match was not drawn. But then, the Aussies were better prepared and they deserved to win the series unlike the Test match you mentioned here.

  • Bala Yugandar on December 21, 2010, 9:27 GMT

    Samir:

    You indeed have touched a raw nerve....when I came rushing back home from school in short-interval I listened to the radio in utter disbelief, helplessness and seething anger cursing Indian batting with choicest expletives in my mind. That was really a pathetic Aussie team ripe for 2-0 thrashing at the minimum. Sehwag came a decade n half late for those wins to eventuate. We got our just desserts in tri-series beaten roundly for our diffidence. The next test was even more painful...the only thing that I remember with warmth was Kapil's potent bowling in tri-series where he seem to bowl yorkers on demand and generally seemed a rejuvenated strike force after the bland England home series of 84-85. Test wins in 80's were at ultra-premium!

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  • Bala Yugandar on December 21, 2010, 9:27 GMT

    Samir:

    You indeed have touched a raw nerve....when I came rushing back home from school in short-interval I listened to the radio in utter disbelief, helplessness and seething anger cursing Indian batting with choicest expletives in my mind. That was really a pathetic Aussie team ripe for 2-0 thrashing at the minimum. Sehwag came a decade n half late for those wins to eventuate. We got our just desserts in tri-series beaten roundly for our diffidence. The next test was even more painful...the only thing that I remember with warmth was Kapil's potent bowling in tri-series where he seem to bowl yorkers on demand and generally seemed a rejuvenated strike force after the bland England home series of 84-85. Test wins in 80's were at ultra-premium!

  • Vivek Bhandari on December 21, 2010, 9:35 GMT

    Yeah…India have been at the receiving end for quite some Test matches. I remember the Chennai Test match in the 2004 series against Australia in which we had Viru-Yuvi as the opening combination. D.Martyn and J.Dizzy Gillespie took the match away setting a decent target (220+). And Indians were on the course scoring 20-odd at stumps on the 4th day. However, the Chennai rains came and washed the 5th day. It changed the momentum of the series. And then came the Nagpur pitch and the infamous exclusion of Ganguly and Harbhajan. India lost miserably in Nagpur and managed to make it 2-1 at Mumbai. It could have been so different if the Chennai match was not drawn. But then, the Aussies were better prepared and they deserved to win the series unlike the Test match you mentioned here.

  • ab on December 21, 2010, 10:12 GMT

    I do remember that Dave Gilbert had a couple of very close lbws (if I remember, Kapil Dev was the bowler at the other end) that the umpires (who were both australian since the concept of neutral umpires was yet to come in) ruled it in Gilberts favor -live telecast would have exposed the bad umpiring -

    having said that, Sunil Gavaskar was definitely at fault as his captaincy was alway safety first -had he been more courageous, he would have started Indian second innings batting with Kapil Dev and Srikanth followed by Chetan Sharma -the indian team manager also erred by not advising to the captain -

  • farooq on December 21, 2010, 10:21 GMT

    superb story

  • RSG on December 21, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    I do remember the disappointment at not winning the test, and yes, the Indian top order were to blame. But Sunny Gavaskar was not the captain in that series - Kapil Dev was, and he was quite upset at the way in which the top order batted. The key was that Indians have always been poor (still are) in shutting down the late order batsmen (I remember Tony Mann scoring a century in 1977-78) and perhaps there was some fear that India would suddenly collapse a la Australia in 1981. It is just that we were not used to the idea of winning overseas and did not take the risk. It was a good opportunity wasted

  • safwan umair on December 21, 2010, 11:34 GMT

    fantastic story samir. And i do agree with Bala Yugandar. Sehwag arrived a decade and a half later for this win to eventuate. 25 overs with him firing on all cylinders would have been 10 overs too many. As a Pakistani fan, i have always envied the commitment, skill and temperament of india's modern day test batsmen. Their number one status as a test team hinges solely on the genius of these great batsmen! However, if and when they retire, filling in their shoes and replacing 30,000 test runs would be a monumental task. The dilemma for BCCI in the future would be the dilemma that the ACB faces today. They have found the task of replacing Hayden, Langer, Gilly, Warne and Mcgrath an impossible one!

  • arnab on December 21, 2010, 11:40 GMT

    wow so well written.. i was ofcourse too young for this match.. and plus i support australia so i'm thrilled to read this :P but wow i can feel your frustration through your words! I am cursing Gavaskar and co for their stupidity! thats how real you made it sound, kudos to you.. to defend them i can only saw perhaps they thought chasing it would risk them losing?! perhaps the wicket had some demons in it? either way, i hate to degenerate into my internet frenzied generation but i must say this.. ROFL

  • golandaaz on December 21, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    If you ever mention this test again, I will never read your blogs. I fear that if I ever need to go to a shrink, I will bawl out the trauma this test caused me...

  • Bhajrang Bir Vijay on December 21, 2010, 12:25 GMT

    Do I remember this one! You know we shout and crow of Sunil's technical correctness and his brillance as batsman. These facts are beyond dispute, but my God man, when he was slow he was slow. Thank God we have Virender Sehwag today. He is reckless but he makes big hundreds at a fast clip. Border's effort makes me wonder what Sachin was thinking yesterday at Centurion. He made no effort to farm the bowling despite having two wickets in hand. 50 hundreds and all of that is great but where was the never say die spirit from India? I shudder to think that this but it appears to me all Sachin wanted was that 50th hundred. Wasn't he aware there was a lot of talk about rain coming at Centurion yesterday?

  • Gary on December 21, 2010, 12:34 GMT

    INDIA IS TIGER AT HOME AND RAT ON FOREIGN PITCHES...................................

    AND ALSO INDIA CAN NEVER BEAT AUSTRALIA IN AUSTRALIA IF THEY HAVE THE WINNING SQUAD OF ASHES 2006-07.