First Test Match

Australia v India

India fought a great rearguard action, but it would not have been necessary had their batsmen not shaped so poorly on a good pitch in the first innings. That was where the tourists left behind their chances of winning.

The vehement criticism of the pitch at the same venue for the tourists' fixture against Queensland had an influence on the early course of this Test match. One effect was that the groundsman overwatered the pitch to make it last. Another was that Simpson chose to bat, although it was obvious, in the circumstances, that the surface dampness was going to give the bowlers a lot of help. His decision was undoubtedly the outcome of the exaggerated tales of the evil in the pitch for the State game.

After Mohinder Amarnath had dealt two early shocks, Bedi wrecked the Australian innings. He took a wicket with his first ball in the match and finished with five for 55. All his victims fell to catches in the arc between wicket-keeper and silly point, which was some indication of the amount of lift and spin he obtained from the damp pitch.

Australia would have been routed for less than a hundred but for Toohey's 82, an innings of high merit which lasted two hours, twenty-two minutes and included one 6 and eleven 4s. Bedi could find no holes in his defence, and he was supremely thorough in punishing anything short or over-pitched. He mounted a spectacular assault when be began to run out of partners and scored all 34 runs added for the last wicket.

When India went in later in the day, Clark removed Gavaskar with a deadly rising ball, but an early stoppage because of bad light prevented Australia from taking further advantage of the life still remaining in the pitch.

Although it rolled out beautifully easy the next day, the Indian batsmen lost their way and could not gain even a marginal lead on Australia's moderate score. They only stand of note was 75 between Vengsarkar and Viswanath.

The former, however, got out in an unfortunate manner, his cap coming adrift as he ducked under a bumper from Thomson and dislodging a bail. Clark, on his d├ębut, took four for 46, although Thomson and leg-spinner Mann also left their mark on the Indian innings.

Australia again made a disastrous start, losing three wickets for only seven runs. Simpson and Toohey revived them with innings of 89 and 57, respectively, Australia would still have been in very positive danger of defeat had Thomson, who indulged in some spectacular slogging, and Hurst not put on 50 for the last wicket.

India's fortunes ebbed and flowed as they went in pursuit of a daunting fourth-innings total of 341. A sober and sensible innings of 113 by Gavaskar sustained their hopes in spite of an early reverse and the collapse of the middle order. In between, Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath had put on 81 for the second wicket. Gavaskar's disciplined, chanceless innings was ended by the second new ball, with India still needing another 98 to win.

Shortly after his dismissal, India were 275 for eight and the and seemed near. Then the situation was transformed quite dramatically by a lively partnership of 40 between Kirmani and Bedi. The Australian bowlers had completely lost control and India needed only 23 when Kirmani (55) miscued a pull at a very short bumper and was caught at mid-wicket. Bedi tried hard to bridge the remaining gap but Chandrasekhar, the last man, could not hold out.

© John Wisden & Co