Second Test Match


At Melbourne, December 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. Drawn. Australia, who except for Matthews and Border batted poorly, were saved by the weather and by the Indians' lacking a sense of urgency. India, who had almost all of the post-lunch play on the last day in which to score 126 to win, were 59 for two at tea when the weather intervened.

The pitch was well grassed, but not green, and yet the ball turned from the first day. By the third, Australia lodged a protest about its quality, even though India were in the process of compiling a big score. Anticipating a turning pitch, India had included Sivaramakrishnan, despite his lack of form, while Gilbert had returned for Hughes in the Australian side. Waugh, a batsman and medium-pace bowler, won his Test cap because Ritchie had fractured toes.

India won the toss and bowled, a tactic inconsistent with their selection of an extra spinner. It succeeded, however. Damp underneath, the pitch helped the spinners and Australia were 127 for six before tea. A seventh-wicket partnership between Matthews and Bright enabled them to reach 210 for eight by the close, all the wickets having fallen to spin, and Matthews, 54 overnight, continued his defiance next morning. Taking 50 off the last 70 balls, he deservedly reached his century, which included a 6 and ten 4s. Of the 46 he and Gilbert put on for the last wicket, Matthews scored 41.

India were twice interrupted by bad light, losing 65 minutes, but his was compensated for by a rollicking 86, off 89 balls, from Srikkanth. At the close India were 187 for three from 56 overs, and they conceded no ground on the third morning until just before lunch. In the afternoon, however, the innings lost momentum until Kapil Dev came in at 291 for five, half an hour before tea, and struck 55 from 50 balls. When 46, he became only the third all-rounder, after G. S. Sobers, and I. T. Botham, to score 3,000 runs and take 200 wickets in Tests, India finished the day 431 for nine.

Australia, 183 behind, went in again with almost two days left, and that they were not beaten on the fourth day was due to Border's skill in playing spin and his fortitude. Having batted for 228 minutes, he was unbeaten at the close with 98 in a total of 228 for eight. In the last over before the close, Reid, seemingly caught at slip, off Yadav, was adjudged not out, and although he did not remain for long next morning, the decision gave Kapil Dev added ammunition with which to attack the umpiring. Gilbert dug in again, staying for 115 minutes while Border, whom the Indians were reluctant to attack, added 64. The Australian captain was last out for a heroic 163, from 358 balls, containing sixteen 4s. The weather forecast for the final day was unfavourable, yet the Indians seemed to have ignored it, judging by their tactics against Australia's last pair and by their approach afterwards to getting the required runs.

Border was the Man of the Match. The attendance was 81,715.

© John Wisden & Co