Fifth Test Match

Australia v India

With India putting on a record losing total in the second innings of 445, the deciding Test ended on a highly exciting note - a finale becoming an evenly fought series.

The one unfortunate feature of this memorable contest was the strong feeling that crept in, albeit briefly, when, on the third day, the Indians showed displeasure over at lest three umpiring decisions. The volatile Bedi expressed his criticism of the umpiring in the most strong terms.

A rare poor performance by India's spinners on the opening day gave Australia an initial advantage which they never relinquished. They would probably have won more decisively had Thomson's bowling not been lost to them after he had delivered only three and a half overs in India's first innings. He left the field at this point with a torn hamstring.

Even during his brief assault, he left a deep mark on the match by taking two wickets including that of Gavaskar. India never really recovered from these setbacks.

Australia benefited from every one of the five changes made by the selectors for this Test, although four made for the inclusion of players totally new to international cricket. The presence of three left-handers also served to throw the Indian attack out of gear. Prasanna, the one Indian spinner who might have troubled the left-handers, spent most of the first innings in the pavilion with a back strain.

Australia's new opening pair of Wood and Darling, both left-handers, put on 89, the home side's best start of the series. Then Yallop, another left-hander, weighed in with a century. The smartness with which he and Toohey ran between the wickets threw the Indian bowling into further disarray.

With Simpson scoring a watchful century as well, Australia continued to build on the fine start and finished with a total of 505, the highest of the series by either side.

When India batted, Thomson bowled as fast and as accurately as he has ever done. Though his participation in the match was limited, it had immense bearing on the result. He removed Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath, the main pillars of the Indian batting, while India lost three wickets for 23 runs.

There was a worthwhile partnership of 136 between Viswanath and Vengsarkar, but thereafter India never looked like matching Australia's massive total.

With six days allotted to this match, Simpson did not enforce the follow-on when India were bowled out halfway through the third day.

The Indian spinners recaptured their form in the second innings, but half-centuries by Darling and Simpson saw Australia to a total of 256, which left India 493 runs to win - or more than fourteen hours to bat out for a draw. Their only comfort was that Thomson was still unfit to bowl.

India seemed doomed to a massive defeat when Gavaskar, who had already had one escape, fell at 40, Chauhan, his opening partner, was also dismissed before the end of the fourth day, at 79. The Australians could have struck one more crushing blow before stumps, but Viswanath was dropped at slip when only two.

Viswanath and Amarnath batted right through the morning of the fifth day, adding 131 before Viswanath fell to the second new ball, at 210. Amarnath carried on to make 86, and with Vengsarkar batting with composure, India continued their struggle in an encouraging manner.

Both Amarnath and Vengsarkar fell in making belligerent shots, but with Gaekwad failing again, India were 348 for six at Vengsarkar's dismissal. The seventh-wicket pair, Kirmani and Ghavri, got sufficiently entrenched for the Australians to start worrying.

However, the third new ball gave them the decisive breakthrough. Still, India fought to the bitter end.

© John Wisden & Co