Fourth Test Match

AUSTRALIA v INDIA 1991-92

Toss: India.

Marred though it was by controversy over lbw decisions - eight times Indians were given out, while all but two of their own appeals were rejected - the match produced a thrilling finish, ending a sequence of six drawn Tests at the Adelaide Oval. An older Adelaide tradition, of captains electing to field and losing, was restored instead. Meanwhile, the pitch, relaid a year before to give it more bone, turned out slower than ever.

Australia's first-innings collapse in four and a half hours was the result of poor batting, though credit was also due to Kapil Dev and Prabhakar for moving the ball in the air on a fine, clear day. The spinner Raju's use of flight earned three victims, among them Jones, who was the one batsman who put down roots, batting two hours. The faster Australian bowlers obtained greater movement off the pitch, and McDermott undermined India's front-line batsmen, apart from Sidhu who stayed 136 minutes. He was caught when Hughes dug one in and made it lift to the shoulder of the bat. India recovered from 70 for six through a sterling partnership between Kapil Dev and Prabhakar, and the grit of the tail.

After 21 wickets had fallen in two days, India claimed only one on the third, and that 40 minutes before the close. Kapil Dev's first delivery with the new ball - taken 16 overs late - dismissed Taylor after a stand of 221 with Boon. Not long after, Border survived a confident lbw appeal; this refusal aggrieved the Indians as much as that of two against Boon the day before. Boon finally departed when he took too long over a single on the fourth morning. His run-put precipitated another collapse: Jones was caught behind, and Waugh taken at slip, from successive balls in Kapil's next over. But Border and Healy survived chances, and the Australian captain recovered his touch to build a formidable lead of 371, with almost seven hours to bowl India out.

Australia's uncharacteristic lapses in the field - Sidhu, Manjrekar and Azharuddin all had lives - almost gave the game to India, though when Azharuddin began to play shots with abandon he probably believed defeat was inevitable. By then India had been set back by the run-out of Manjrekar and two lbw decisions which looked harsh. But the captain's drives, effortlessly struck, wristy cuts and deflections off the legs blended into the elegant splendour of the Adelaide Oval. With Prabhakar, he added 101 in 26 overs, completing his century in 144 balls. Despite the surge, Border maintained attacking fields. India needed 89 when McDermott took the new ball, and at once had Azharuddin caught at slip. Even then, the gap shrank to 44 before Srinath gave McDermott his 150th Test wicket and the victory.

Man of the Match: C. J. McDermott.

Attendance: 57,684.

Close of play: First day, India 45-2 (N. S. Sidhu 15*, D. B. Vengsarkar 8*); Second day, Australia 36-1 (M. A. Taylor 18*, D. C. Boon 11*); Third day, Australia 245-2 (D. C. Boon 121*, A. R. Border 6*); Fourth day, India 31-0 (K. Srikkanth 13*, N. S. Sidhu 13*).

© John Wisden & Co