Fifth Test Match

India v England

At Bombay, February 11, 12, 14, 15, 16. Drawn. Although the final encounter was the only one to be left unfinished, it was easily the most evenly-contested and the most exciting of the series. There were stages on the last afternoon when either side looked like winning.

While India showed new confidence springing from their win in the previous Test, England slipped from the high fielding standards they had sustained through the first four Tests. Three missed chances in India's first innings proved vital and possibly cost them the initiative.

Although the pitch was providing turn by the end of the second day, it was, at the start, quite the best of the five in the series. India, winning the toss, made 338, their highest total in eight consecutive Tests against England.

Considering the chances they put down towards the end of the innings, England were indeed lucky that India did not amass a bigger score for, when their fourth wicket fell to the last ball of the day, the total stood at 261.

That wicket ended an exhilarating innings of 83, including sixteen 4's, by Patel. The bedrock of the India innings, however, was 108 by Gavaskar. He and Patel added 139 for the fourth wicket.

Earlier, Gavaskar had been concerned in stands of fifty for each of the first two wickets, with Gaekwad and Amarnath. Kirmani, Ghavri and Bedi were the batsmen let off on the second day. These misses must have cost England about 35 runs but were even more expensive in terms of time.

England, who began their reply with approximately three hours play left on the second day, did not lose a wicket before the close. Amiss and Brearley put on 99 runs and on the following day, increased the partnership to 146. It was not only about four times the size of England's previous best opening stand of the series but the first of over three figures by England in thirteen successive Tests.

In making 68 on the second day, Brearley batted with a fluency and command that no English batsman had achieved in the previous Tests. He was becalmed on the following day when Amiss moved into the forefront.

While Amiss fell for 50, midway through the morning, Brearley continued into the afternoon and altogether lasted five hours and ten minutes, but he failed by nine runs to reach his first Test century.

The innings fell into decline thereafter and India would have seized a big advantage had Greig not batted over four hours for 76, his best innings of the series in terms of quality. Still, England found themselves 21 runs behind when their innings ended halfway through the fourth morning.

Bedi and Prasanna each captured four wickets. The latter's four for 73 in 52 overs represented one of his best bowling feats in a Test match. It was Prasanna who really broke the back of the English batting.

Starting well again, India scored 192 in their second innings, the significant contributions being 42 and 63, respectively, by Gavaskar and S. Amarnath. The innings lasted five hours, twenty minutes, the bid to manoeuvre themselves more quickly into a winning position being ruined by Underwood.

He followed up his four for 89 in the first innings with five for 84. This performance established new personal landmarks. Underwood now had captured five wickets in an innings against every country. It was the 100th time in his career that he had claimed five wickets in an innings and with an aggregate in the series of 29 wickets, he equalled F.S. Trueman as the highest English wicket-taker in a series against India.

India, ideally, would have liked more time to bowl England out but apart from the problems his batsmen had in the second innings, Bedi's calculations must have been governed by the fact that Chandrasekhar had damaged a hamstring.

To win, England needed 214 in just over four overs. There was much unpleasantness in the opening minutes of the innings because Gavaskar, operating with the new ball, deliberately followed through on to the pitch and after protests from the batsmen, the umpires remonstrated with him.

Losing Amiss, Brearley and Randall in the process, England reached 92 by tea, which left them 122 to score in the last ninety minutes. It was a tall order on a turning pitch, but Fletcher, coming in at 38 for two, played with such mastery that India became apprehensive. Greig and Knott went in quick succession after tea -- at 112 and 113 -- and though Fletcher was in such command, England had to retreat. Kirmani failed to stump Tolchard in the seventeenth mandatory over.

That England had only three wickets remaining at the end suggested a close finish, but in fact, the sixth and seventh went down in the concluding over to Ghavri who, turning to orthodox left-arm spin, took five for 33.

© John Wisden & Co