First Test Match


At Adelaide, December 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Drawn. Adverse weather, which cost 300 minutes' play during the last three days, was only one of the factors leading to the draw. The pitch, although grassy, catered mainly to the batsmen, and the bowling on both sides was moderate. Moreover, both sides adopted a cautious approach: Australia had just lost a series to New Zealand for the first time, and India were under-prepared and consequently less than confident.

Australia included three new caps in Marsh, a top order batsman, and pace bowlers Hughes and Reid, the latter a last-minute replacement for Gilbert, who was injured. The Indians played three seamers and two finger-spinners. Notwithstanding the pitch's greenness and an overcast sky, Australia elected to bat first and lost two early wickets. However, despite losing Border at 124, they ended the first day comfortably placed at 248 for four, India having relinquished the initiative by dropping chances. Boon and Ritchie, who staged a fourth-wicket partnership of 117, were missed off Shastri at 83 and 26 respectively. Boon, out to the second new ball, batted 336 minutes and 255 balls for his 123 (his first Test century), and Ritchie, 55 not out overnight, batted doggedly until 37 minutes before tea on the second day, his 128 occupying six and a half hours.

If India had to wait almost until lunch for their first success on the second day, it was because Kapil Dev overlooked Hookes's well-known weakness against spin. His dismissal, immediately he was confronted by Yadav, was followed by a useful stand between Ritchie and Matthews, but once it was broken, Australia's remaining four wickets fell for only 6 runs. Kapil Dev, who took five wickets in 21 balls, had final figures of eight for 106, the best by an Indian overseas.

India now could hope only for a draw, yet with Srikkanth in full flow, and the Australian bowling wayward, they reached to 95 in only 25 overs. When they resumed on the third day, Gavaskar, who had survived a chance at the wicket, off McDermott, could not continue his undefeated innings of 39, a blow on the forearm having left him temporarily incapacitated. Amarnath, too, could not bat in his accustomed position because of an allergy. However, Chetan Sharma the night-watchman, denied Australia any advantage, and Gavaskar resumed his innings at the fall of the fifth wicket to remain unbeaten with 166 (551 minutes, 416 balls) after putting on 94 with Yadav, an Indian record for the last wicket against Australia. India's 520 was their highest total against Australia.

Kapil Dev was the Man of Match, the attendance for the five days being 29,833.

© John Wisden & Co