Fourth Test Match

Australia v India

At Sydney, January 26, 29, 30, 31. Australia won by 144 runs. Played over the Australia Day holiday weekend; there was a disappointing fade-out in this match by India after they had fought back on the fourth day to get right into the picture.

As in Brisbane, Pataudi put Australia in to bat, and this no doubt surprised the Australian selectors, who had shown their assessment of the pitch by omitting their fastest available bowler, Renneberg.

Australia again rested McKenzie and again Lawry was captain, although Simpson came back to the team for his farewell to international cricket. And what a spectacular farewell it was!

Simpson scored only 7 and 20, but he was the best of the Australian spinners, taking eight wickets for 97 runs in the match, including five for 59 in the second innings, his best-ever Test figures. He also gave a brilliant display of slip fielding. His final catch, to dismiss Borde, wherein he showed freakish anticipation, was his hundredth in Test cricket.

Slim little Abid Ali's purposeful batting as opener (he scored 78 and 81) was much admired, and stamped him as a promising player of the future. Although there were some missed catches (Cowper, who dominated Australia's second innings with a score of 165, was dropped at 40), India's fielding did show further improvement; Kulkarni ran out Chappell brilliantly in the first innings and there were three run-outs in the second.

The first day's play, on an easy pitch, was curtailed by an hour through rain and bad light; Lawry made 66, Sheahan, promoted to No. 3, scored 72 and Walters shouldered responsibility but again ran out of partners, being 94 not out when the innings ended for 317 runs. On the first day six wickets had been lost for 245 runs; Prasanna, with his floated off-spinners, and the left-hander Bedi, with steady leg-spin, contained the batsmen.

India, 268, were 49 runs behind, despite Abid Ali's cavalier treatment of the new ball. Pataudi, not in his commanding form of Melbourne and Brisbane, had been missed at 14 and 30.

By the end of the third day Australia were 222 for three. Cowper having batted most capably for his second century of the series and his fifth in all Tests, being then 126 not out. Next day came the transformation: seven wickets fell for the addition of 70 runs in an hour forty minutes; there were two more run-outs added to Simpson's of the previous day, and Prasanna captured four for 40 in that period.

Then Abid Ali and Engineer put on 83 runs - easily the best opening for India in this series and the first 100 runs came at one a minute.

Australia's spinners whittled away and some remarkable slip catching by Simpson and Chappell meant that India, with 193 for six, lost their advantage. Pataudi was held off Simpson by Chappell when the ball rebounded from Jarman.

On the fifth day the remaining four wickets fell for four runs. Simpson in a final flourish took three off seven deliveries.

© John Wisden & Co