Third Test Match

India v England

The fact that England's 262 in the first innings was by far the highest total of the match and that it led to almost uninterrupted domination by them emphasised the value of the toss.

The pitch, the fastest produced in many years on an Indian Test ground, was also uneven in bounce and wore rapidly. But the toss was not the only factor that gave England an easy passage. The Indian batsmen, completely lacking in confidence, submitted easily in both innings.

England, who made one change from the side that won at Calcutta -- Woolmer for Barlow -- themselves did not bat too expertly. They were 31 for three before a century partnership between Brearley, who batted almost throughout the day, and Greig remedied the poor start.

They finished the first day at 171 for five, which was far from a satisfactory position, but there was stern defiance on the next day by the tail and Tolchard, who had retired with a hand injury on the previous day.

Starting even more disastrously than England, India were 17 for three, but recovered to 58 for three by the end of the second day. The rally was inspired by Gavaskar and Patel, who both batted extremely well. The stand looked like continuing to grow on the third day but at 69, Underwood produced the classical unplayable ball to bowl Patel for 32, and Old had Gavaskar caught at slip with a deadly out-swinger.

Gavaskar's dismissal reduced India at 115 for seven, but an hour-long partnership between Kirmani and Prasanna raised the total to a more respectable level. Still, they fell 98 runs short of England.

The unfortunate vaseline incident took place just before the innings subsided. Lever, who took five for 59 in the innings (two of them on the previous day) was reported by umpire Reuben to be carrying on his person a strip of surgical gauze impregnated with vaseline. He considered it to be a breach of Law 46.

The M.C.C. authorities did not deny the presence of the offending strip of gauze, but offered an explanation for its use. Their version of how it came to be discovered by the umpire did, however, conflict with that of Mr. Reuben. The umpire said that it came adrift while Lever was delivering the ball. M.C.C., on the other hand, claimed that Lever found it a hindrance and discarded it himself.

The M.C.C. explanation for the bowler having possession of the gauze strip was this: "During the morning session, both Lever and Willis had suffered from smarting eyes because of sweat running into them from the forehead. So, on the advice of the team's physiotherapist, Mr. Bernard Thomas, they went out wearing these gauze strips which were intended to divert the trickle of perspiration away from their eyes."

Ken Barrington, the M.C.C. manager, said that while there had been a technical breach of the law governing fair and unfair play, the offence was totally unintentional. At a press conference the following day, the rest day, the captain and manager emphasised in further defence of Lever that the gauze strips were not worn until after lunch and that by then England had made such large inroads into the Indian innings, that such unfair methods were quite unnecessary.

Fuel had been added to the fire by Bedi, the Indian captain, stating after the incident that even at Delhi, during the first Test, he had suspicions that a polishing agent of some kind had been used.

More was to be heard of the vaseline incident at the end of the fourth day, on which England played themselves into a winning position. They declared their second innings at 185 for nine, to which Amiss contributed 46 and Greig, a sound, determined 41.

Chandrasekhar was effective for the first time since the opening day of the series and took five for 50. But in the problems that he set England's batsmen on a pitch of awkward bounce, the Indians must have seen a pointer to their own fate against Underwood in the final innings.

With a lead of 283, England gave themselves just under seven and a half hours to bowl India out again. Taking three wickets, including Gavaskar's, in his last two overs of the day, Underwood ruined a good start by India and put England well within sight of victory. India, in effect, had only six wickets left, because Vengsarkar, struck on the hand by Willis, had received an injury which would prevent him from resuming his innings.

After close of play, two statements were issued on the vaseline affair. The secretary of the Indian Board, Mr. Ghulam Ahmed, said that the Tour Committee of the Board had considered the umpire's report and other available evidence and could not come to a definite conclusion whether the intentions of the bowler were deliberate or not. He added that the Board had conveyed all its findings to the T.C.C.B. in London.

While this statement left the impression that the Indian Board was not satisfied one way or the other, Mr. Barrington said that the Indian Board and captain Bedi had accepted our explanation that this was not a direct infringement of the laws of the game. In a day or two, a statement came from Lord's that the T.C.C.B. was satisfied with the explanation received from Messrs. Barrington and Greig.

The remnants of the Indian innings folded up on the final morning. Underwood soon added Viswanath to his bag, and Willis (three for 18) and Lever hastened the end, which came well before lunch. India were all out for 83, their lowest total in a home Test.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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