Third Test Match

AUSTRALIA v INDIA 1985-86

At Sydney, January 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Drawn. Inept batting on the last day took Australia close to defeat in a match which, at the end of the fourth day, looked destined to peter out. Only eight wickets fell on the first four days and then a dozen, all Australian, crashed on the fifth.

For the first time in the series, Australia included the leg-spinner, Holland, a match-winner in the previous two Test matches played in Sydney. This time, however, the pitch was much firmer than on those occasions, and also very slow, and India registered their first total of 600 on foreign soil. No Indian had previously made a Test hundred in Sydney: this time the first three batsmen, Gavaskar, Srikkanth and Amarnath, passed the landmark. Gavaskar and Srikkanth, who, batting for much of the time with a runner, reached his hundred off only 97 balls, put on 191, and at the end of the first day India were 334 for one, Gavaskar 132 not out. Srikkanth, later named as Man of the Match, was dropped at first slip when only 2 while Gavaskar had two escapes, at 3 and 27.

Despite India's strong position, Gavaskar and Amarnath batted with extreme caution as they took their stand to the highest for any Indian wicket against Australia. They added only 64 before lunch, prompting Kapil Dev to promote himself in the order to hasten the scoring. There was a brilliant onslaught also from Azharuddin before the declaration, half an hour before the close.

Australia's reply began with a partnership of 217 between Boon (131 off 311 balls) and Marsh. Australia's highest opening partnership against India, it was also their highest for the first wicket against any country at the SCG. Although three wickets fell in the space of 44 runs on the fourth day, Australia, 347 for four with Border 64 not out, looked safe when bad light stopped play 68 minutes early. (A heavy storm had reduced the third day [Australia 169 without loss] by 105 minutes) Just 54 runs were required to save the follow-on, but on the final morning Border holed out to long-on. His concentration may have wavered because his wife, at the time, was in labour in a Brisbane hospital. By the time the new Border had arrived, Australia were following on. Matthews, who had helped Border check the collapse on the fourth day, was also out to an injudicious stroke, and the last five wickets fell for just 9 runs.

A little over four hours remained when Australia followed on and the crisis appeared to be over when the opening stand occupied 72 minutes. However, Border's decision to bat lower down the order produced further problems, and when he was out with seven overs remaining, Australia were in danger of defeat. Ritchie, batting for 166 minutes, and Bright saw them through. India's spinners, Shastri and Yadav, took all but one of the wickets that fell in the day.

The attendance for the match was 67,528.

© John Wisden & Co