First Test Match


Toss: Australia.

On a hot and humid Monday, one of the most memorable Test match finishes was witnessed by some 30,000 spectators at Chepauk. For the second time in 1,052 Tests, the result was a tie, and coincidentally Australia had been involved each time. Yet there had been little hint of such a climax on the first four days; indeed, as India were being outplayed on the first three days, the thoughts of some Australians were possibly inclined to an innings victory. Only an inspired century against the odds by the Indian captain, Kapil Dev, precluded the possibility of India having to follow on after Australia had amassed their highest total in India - 574 in 742 minutes.

Border won the toss and Boon set the tone for positive Australian batting with his third Test hundred (331 minutes, 21 fours); all scored against India. On the second day, Jones cemented the solid start, first reaching his maiden Test hundred and then extending it to Australia's first double-hundred in a Test in India. Batting in all for 8 hours 23 minutes, facing 330 balls and hitting two sixes and 27 fours, Jones had to battle against the difficult weather conditions and overcome bouts of nausea and leg cramps. Yet he led the way in the partnership of 178 with Border, a record for Australia's fourth wicket against India. The Australian captain was dropped before scoring and twice more before reaching his nineteenth Test century in a little under four and a quarter hours.

Australia batted into the third day for 37 minutes; thereafter the Indians struggled against the workmanlike spin of Matthews and Bright. Srikkanth's aggressive 53 off 65 balls and a more chancy 50 off 59 balls by Azharuddin were entertaining but out of context, and by the close India still required 105 to make Australia bat again. Kapil Dev made sure they would with a free-flowing hundred off 109 balls. There were 21 fours in his 119, with 44 runs of his second fifty coming from boundaries. Matthews finished with five wickets in an innings for the first time.

Australia mustered 170 for five in the 49 overs available to them on the fourth day and Border declared first thing on the final morning, setting India 348 to win in a minimum of 87 overs. An opening stand of 55 announced what was assumed to be India's intention of a draw, but a century stand between Gavaskar, playing in his 100th consecutive Test match, and Amarnath pointed to different possibilities. When India went in to tea at 190 for two, a last-session chase (158 off 30 overs) against an Australian side reduced to defence was on the cards, and when the final twenty overs began, India were suitably placed with 118 needed and seven wickets in hand. However, at 251 Gavaskar mistimed a cover drive after 259 minutes' batting, and Kapil Dev, having promoted himself in the order, went 2 runs later. Azharuddin unsuccessfully tried to charge Bright, but Shastri took control with a clever mixture of outright offence and the safe picking of runs.

With 18 needed off the last 30 balls, the match seemed to be India's, but when Chetan Sharma, caught on the boundary, and More were dismissed in one over by Bright, a third possible result - an Australian victory - was sighted for the first time that day. Yadav, who had struck Matthews for six to take India within 7 runs of victory, was next out, bowled off his pads by Bright, leaving India 344 for nine with eight balls remaining. Maninder Singh defended the last two balls from Bright, which gave Shastri the strike for the last over, from Matthews. He blocked the first ball and, scenting victory off the second, hit a shade too eagerly: the ball went in front of deep square leg off a thick inside edge and a misfield enabled 2 runs to be taken safely. The next ball he placed calmly towards mid-wicket for the single which eliminated the possibility of an Australian win. Maninder defended the fourth ball, with some difficulty, and at 5.18 p.m. was leg-before to Matthews's penultimate delivery. The Australians were jubilant, none more so than a tiring Matthews, who had been bowling since the ninth over and had taken his second five-wicket return, giving him ten in a match for the first time. With Bright also taking five wickets, all ten wickets in India's second innings had fallen to spin.

Close of play: First day, Australia 211-2 (D. M. Jones 56*, R. J. Bright 1*); Second day, Australia 556-6 (G. R. J. Matthews 34*, S. R. Waugh 5*); Third day, India 270-7 (Kapil Dev 33*, Chetan Sharma 14*); Fourth day, Australia 170-5 (G. R. J. Matthews 27*, S. R. Waugh 2*).

© John Wisden & Co