Fifth Test Match

INDIA v ENGLAND 1984-85

Only when England lost three quick wickets to Gopal Sharma midway through the fourth day did India look capable of bringing off a win to square the series. Facing India's 553 for eight declared, their highest total against England, to which Azharuddin contributed his third hundred in as many Tests, England were still 68 short of saving the follow-on with four wickets standing. But, with valuable and positive help from Edmonds, Gower produced a captain's innings of 78 that made certain of a draw, though on the final day India made an heroic effort not to let it die a peaceful death.

India made two changes from the team beaten in Madras, Gopal Sharma, a 24-year-old off-spinner, making his Test d├ębut as replacement for Yadav, and Malhotra, a middle-order batsman, coming in for Chetan Sharma. The latter seemed a strange decision in view of the fact that India had to win to save the rubber, but it was justified by the deadness of the pitch: had he played, Chetan Sharma would have been unlikely to do more than take the shine off the new ball, a role performed by Amarnath. England were unchanged, which meant they called on only twelve players in the series - the teams at Madras and Kanpur plus Ellison.

India, winning the toss for the fourth time in succession, soon lost Gavaskar to a Cowans breakback. Though there was no pace in the pitch, the ball swung early on, but neither Cowans nor Foster bowled accurately enough to make full use of it and Srikkanth and Azharuddin built India's foundations by adding 150 for the second wicket off only 37 overs. Srikkanth, missed at 16 and 59, had reached his highest score in Tests when Foster had him caught behind, while Azharuddin played some glorious wristy strokes against the spinners. On Srikkanth's dismissal, however, India, cramped by Edmonds in a long containing spell, lost impetus. Amarnath's 15 lasted twenty overs and when Azharuddin scored only 8 runs in the final hour, they reached close of play at 228 for three. Azharuddin, passing the night on 98, turned Foster off his legs in the fourth over of the second day to carve his niche in history. He batted 374 minutes before pulling a short ball to mid wicket. Vengsarkar, missed at 65, gave no further chance in a six-hour 137. Only while Shastri and Kapil were together did India make much attempt to increase the tempo before declaring after five overs on the third day.

It was a help to England that the rest day had come after two days, sparing Fowler and Robinson the extra burden of beginning the reply after eleven and a half hours in the field. England's main misgivings at that stage centred on a worn spot on a spinners' length in line with the middle stump, seemingly caused by Kapil running on the pitch late in India's innings. But in the event it hardly increased in size during the remainder of the match, making the odd ball which kept low the only real hazard. Fowler and Robinson went a long way towards ensuring England's safety by staying together for 73 overs; and when on the fourth day the score grew to 276 for four an hour after lunch, a draw seemed the only possible result.

Then Gopal Sharma, small and bouncy, had his say with a spell of three for 4 in 29 balls, and it was left to Gower and Edmonds to repair the damage with a stand of 100 for the seventh wicket. Only four and a quarter hours remained when Kapil brought England's first innings to an end with three for 19 on the final day. But India made a last attempt to snatch a win through Srikkanth and Azharuddin, who despite five men on the boundary scored 95 for the second wicket off 12.1 overs. Gavaskar's declaration left his bowlers 46 overs to bowl England out a second time, but against batsmen looking no further than a draw, they made no progress. Gatting, replacing Robinson when he got dust behind a contact lens with the score at 36, finished 19 runs short of K. F. Barrington's 594, the England record for a series against India.

© John Wisden & Co