Second Test Match

Australia v India

At Perth, December 16, 17, 18, 20, 21. Australia won by two wickets. The pulsating finish, arrived at with 22 balls remaining, was a fitting climax to a match in which fortunes fluctuated with almost every session.

Both sides approached the match with commendable enterprise and, in view of the fact that 1,468 runs were scored, the achievement of a decisive finish was remarkable.

The Australian victory was largely owed to their veteran captain, Bobby Simpson. Coming in at 65 for three in the first innings, and that only after a brief rest following a long stint in the field, Simpson rallied Australia with a dogged 176, lasting six hours forty-one minutes.

Dyson, playing in his first Test, and Rixon were the only others to pass 50. Still, Australia came within near reach of India's total of 402, their highest in 27 Tests against Australia.

Considering their sound foundations, both Indian innings should have realised bigger totals. In the first, Gavaskar was again an early victim to Clark, but Chauhan and Mohinder Amarnath put on 149 for the second wicket. Another 61 were added for the third, by Amarnath and Viswanath, and at one stage India were 224 for three.

India's progress was temporarily halted by a fierce spell from Thomson, during which he took three wickets in rapid succession, but they revived through a stand of 76 between Vengsarkar and Kirmani.

The second new ball again swung the balance Australia's way before India were rallied once more by the eighth-wicket pair, Madan Lal and Venkataraghavan.

Trying to exploit Madan Lal's notorious weakness against the lifting ball, the Australian bowlers overworked the short ball. Madan Lal kept stepping back from his leg stump and hitting them through the covers or swinging them through mid-wicket. Although crude and undignified, his method paid dividends that day.

In the second innings, India held a commanding position, with Gavaskar (127) and Mohinder Amarnath (100) staging a record second-wicket partnership of 193. After Amarnath was fourth out at 283, five more wickets went down in seventy-five minutes for only 47 runs. Although the clock was far from being on his side, Bedi declared because he did not want to risk injury to himself or Chandrasekhar.

Australia, therefore, were left six hours and forty minutes to score 339 runs for victory. The one wicket India captured before the close on the penultimate day proved a mixed blessing, for Tony Mann, who came in as night-watchman, stayed on next day to play a match-winning innings of 105 in just over three hours.

The Indians suffered from their chronic weakness of being unable to bowl steadily to a left-hander. Thanks to Mann and Ogilvie, who was slow but hard to dislodge, Australia, at 195 for four, were well-placed to aim for victory.

When Simpson and Toohey became so firmly entrenched, they looked to be heading for a very easy win. Only 58 runs were wanted at the start of the mandatory fifteen overs of the last hour.

However, in the second of these overs, with the margin now cut down to 44, a brilliant piece of fielding by Madan Lal, the bowler, ran out Simpson. In the same over, he produced a beautiful ball which nipped back and trapped Hughes l.b.w..

Then, with only 9 runs wanted and almost six overs left, Toohey, who had batted with discipline and in a most accomplished manner to make 83, had a rush of blood and played a fatal, lofted drive off Bedi. There was a suggestion of panic as Rixon, in the same over, played across the line and fell l.b.w. to Bedi, but Australia had come too near winning to be foiled.

Bedi took five wickets in each innings, and although he had previously performed the feat twelve times, this was the first instance of his capturing ten wickets in a Test match.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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