Tied Test II ­- 15 years on

At this time, every year, my mind turns unfailingly to one of the greatest Tests in history, a match I was lucky to witness and write about

Partab Ramchand

September 18, 2001

Text size: A | A

At this time, every year, my mind turns unfailingly to one of the greatest Tests in history, a match I was lucky to witness and write about. In my long journalistic career of over three decades, Tied Test II will also be the crowning glory. Yes, I refer to the first Test match between India and Australia played at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Madras from September 18 to 22, 1986.

It is fifteen years since umpire Vikram Raju gave Maninder Singh out leg before to Greg Matthews to signal only the second tie in 1052 Tests since the first game was played in 1877. That alone indicates the uniqueness (well, almost) of the match. Cynics say that the events during the Madras game cannot be compared to those that unfolded during the first tied Test between Australia and West Indies at Brisbane in December, 1960. Well, any first has a truly unique ring about it. But in many ways, the Madras Test compares favourably with the Brisbane game.

I remember clearly the scene on September 17. India, having just come back from a triumphant tour of England were favourities to win the contest against an Australian side, still in the process of rebuilding after the simultaneous retirement of Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rodney Marsh a little over two years ago. The Australians, since then had lost twice each to the West Indies and New Zealand, once to England and had drawn a series against India `Down Under' with great difficulty.

It did not take long for the visitors to rip off the underdogs tag. On the first day, David Boon got 122 and on the second day, Dean Jones came up with his courageous 210 and Allan Border scored 106. I shall never forget the sight of Jones, completely dehydrated, vomiting on the field of play. But never once did he abandon his post and only after he was out did he go to hospital for treatment. Indeed, the weather throughout the five days was stifling. I have been in Madras all my life and even though September is often called `second summer', I have never experienced such oppressive heat.

Perhaps the heat got to the players for the behaviour of some of them was positively embarrassing to the genuine cricket lover. This was especially so on the final day when the atmosphere on the field was `hot' enough. But in the meantime India, suddenly finding themselves in the unlikely role as the team under pressure, had to avoid the follow on. In reply to Australia's 574 for seven declared, India finally got 397 thanks in the main to Kapil Dev's great innings of 119, arguably his finest Test innings. Coming in at 206 for five on the third evening with his team facing the prospect of a follow on squarely in the face, the Indian captain with only the tail for company, produced a series of enthralling shots so typical of him.

By the time the Indians were dismissed, it was just after lunch on the fourth day and with the Australians not showing any urgency in their second innings, the Test was written off as a draw. By stumps, the visitors were 170 for five, a lead of 347 and predictably enough there were just a few thousands present at the stadium on the final morning. They received a pleasant surprise when they saw the Australians take the field followed by Gavaskar and Srikkanth. After discussions with the coach Bob Simpson ­ who incidentally was a member of the Australian team in the first tied Test - Border declared the innings setting the Indians a victory target of 348 in 87 overs. It was a bold decision and paved the way now for three possibilities. No one in his right mind could have predicted the fourth result!

For long, India had the match under control thanks chiefly to Gavaskar's 90 and supporting knocks from Srikkanth (39), Mohinder Amarnath (51), Azharuddin (42) and Chandrakant Pandit (39). They were 193 for two at the start of the 20 mandatory overs but then Australia, through off spinner Matthews, who bowled all day and left arm spinner Ray Bright came back slowly into the game. Ravi Shastri held the middle order with a judicious mix of aggression and defence and then came the unbelievable climax. Almost magically, the spectators now numbered over 30,000 and they were shouting themselves hoarse. Not one of them, I wager, was in the seat when Matthews started the last over, bowling to Shastri who had in the meantime been joined by last man Maninder Singh. India required four runs, Australia one wicket. Now any one of four results were indeed possible. And then came the last act of the unforgettable drama.

Both camps were disappointed, understandably so. For, teams first and foremost, play to win, and not be part of a historic event in which neither team is rewarded. However, in a way, both teams had won the prize. And for the rest of us, it was an occasion to savour for a lifetime.

RSS Feeds: Partab Ramchand

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Partab RamchandClose
Related Links
Matches: Tied Test II
Teams: India

    Top dog of the underdogs

My Favourite Cricketer: Jack Russell brought a neatness to the keeper's art that was matched by his meticulous scruffiness in other regards. By Scott Oliver

    Rewarding times for Hashim Amla

Numbers Game: The rate at which he has accumulated ODI hundreds and MoM awards is among the fastest in history

'Ponting was an instinctive, aggressive player'

Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss Ricky Ponting's technique

    MacLeod spells hope for Scotland

Allrounder Calum MacLeod's return from a faulty action is key to Scotland's World Cup hopes. By Tim Wigmore

How boring is boring cricket?

Probably not as much as boring periods in the likes of rugby, football and tennis, Russell Jackson thinks

News | Features Last 7 days

Manic one-day chases, and daddy partnerships

Also, most brothers in a Test XI, and the fastest to 20 ODI centuries

Has international cricket begun to break up?

The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing wider, and the disenchantment is forcing a devaluation of Test cricket among weaker teams

Well worth the wait

Zulfiqar Babar missed five seasons between his first two first-class matches, and was 34 when he finally made his Test debut, but he is quickly making up for all the lost time with his artful left-arm spin

Younis Khan and the art of scoring hundreds

Out of 70 batsmen who've scored 15 or more Test hundreds only five are from Pakistan, but Younis Khan's appetite for hundreds matches that of some of the top contemporary batsmen

Australia outdone in every way

Surviving into the final session of the last day cannot disguise the fact that Australia's continued inability to play spin contributed to an all-round thrashing

News | Features Last 7 days

    Has international cricket begun to break up? (83)

    The gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing wider, and the disenchantment is forcing a devaluation of Test cricket among weaker teams

    Australia outdone in every way (51)

    Surviving into the final session of the last day cannot disguise the fact that Australia's continued inability to play spin contributed to an all-round thrashing

    Lyon low after high of 2013 (51)

    The offspinner was Australia's highest wicket-taker in 2013, but his form has dipped sharply this year

    Well worth the wait (36)

    Zulfiqar Babar missed five seasons between his first two first-class matches, and was 34 when he finally made his Test debut, but he is quickly making up for all the lost time with his artful left-arm spin

    No Ajmal, no problem for Pakistan (33)

    When a team loses its best bowler, it is expected that the team's performance will suffer. As usual, Pakistan defied the expectations