Second Cornhill Test


At Lord's, August 2, 3, 4, 6, 7. Drawn. A superb third-wicket stand of 210 in five hours twenty minutes by Vengsarkar and Viswanath saved India when all seemed lost, for when it was broken the tourists had wiped out all but 14 runs of the 323 needed to make England bat again. Each had the distinction of making a hundred, only the second and third achieved by India at Lord's, the other being Vinoo Mankad's 184 in 1952.

Their gallant resistance was reminiscent of the way Watson (109) and Bailey (71) put on 163 for the fourth wicket on the last day against Australia at Lord's in 1953, and of the sixth-wicket 274 by Sobers (163 not out) and his cousin Holford (105 not out) at Lord's in 1966. The latter's record, unbeaten stand for West Indies against England began when their side, at 95 for five, were only 9 runs ahead and it certainly averted defeat.

This Test match was also notable for the fact that Botham, when he had Gavaskar brilliantly caught left-handed and low by Brearley at first slip, claimed his 100th Test wicket in the shortest time on record - two years and nine days in his nineteenth Test. Before the turn of the century, George Lohmann ( Surrey) reached 100 wickets in sixteen Tests.

Although the match began on time, there were many interruptions for bad light, rain, and storms. At first, both captains stated they had won the toss for each intended that India would bat; finally Venkataraghavan was given the credit for calling correctly. There were three stoppages in the first seventy minutes and Gavaskar went to the crease five times during his innings of two and a quarter hours. He was fourth out when trying to force Gooch of the back foot.

With Willis injured, England included Lever and made Old twelfth man, but they possessed six bowlers whereas India went into the match with just four, and only Kapil Dev and Ghavri of any pace. As Amarnath was injured they included an extra batsman in Yashpal Sharma. Again, Botham emerged as England's key bowler with his lively pace, bounce and varied swerve, and for the tenth time he took five wickets in a Test when India were dismissed for 96 on the first day in three and threequarter hours. Hendrick bowled impressively, and Gower brilliantly ran out Venkataraghavan.

In the last eighty minutes of the day, England scored 53 for the loss of Brearley who fell to a wicked bounce. Boycott played well, but on the second day, when only forty minutes of cricket were possible, England added just 19 and lost Boycott and Gooch in the process. Kapil Dev and Ghavri were quick and accurate on a perfect pitch and Boycott, held at second slip, was beaten by a ball that left him. Gooch spent twenty-five minutes for his first run of the day and was beginning to show some aggression when he drove vigorously at Kapil Dev and away went his off stump. With Gower and Randall together, England reached 72 for three before the first of two storms put an end to cricket for the day.

Torrential rain obscured the ground, but the Lord's staff worked through it, covering the whole of the square so that by mid-afternoon, when the sun shone, there seemed a chance of a resumption later. Then came a violent period of thunder and lightning, and soon both the uncovered and covered areas were awash with a long slender pond on the Tavern side. A few clowns indulged in an aquatic jamboree, belly-flopping into the water; yet thanks to Jim Fairbrother, the Lord's groundsman, and his helpers, everything was clear on the third morning when only forty-five minutes were lost at the beginning.

The large Saturday crowd feasted on a brilliant display by Gower. He played the ball easily off his legs from the fast pair, Kapil Dev and Ghavri, and hoisted England's 100 with a magnificent square cut off Kapil Dev. Next he hooked Bedi for 6 and treated Venkataraghavan in similar fashion. To everyone's surprise, when he had made 82 out of 114 off 95 balls, his concentration lapsed, he offered no stroke to Ghavri, and over went his off stump. Besides his two 6s Gower hit ten 4s in an innings that lasted two and a quarter hours.

Meantime, Randall, in his shifting way, began the day cautiously before opening up in his best style. But having scored 57 (eight 4s) in just over two and a half hours, he called Botham for a risky single and was easily run out by Chauhan from mid-on. Botham, full of zest, struck boldly until Venkataraghavan upset his off stump and there then followed a period of very dull cricket. England already held a handsome lead, yet in forty-six minutes before tea Miller paid such respect to Bedi and Venkataraghavan that he scored only four singles, and Edmonds was content with 2 runs in twenty minutes.

When India claimed the new ball in the 90th over at 274, Kapil Dev soon induced a catch from Edmonds to the capable Reddy behind the stumps, whereupon Taylor joined Miller in a prolonged stand that took the total to 357 for seven at the end of the third day; Miller 52, Taylor 25.

On Monday, Miller and Taylor attacked the fast bowlers and raised their eighth-wicket stand to 103 in even time. Bedi lured Miller out of his crease and he also disposed of Taylor, but not before the England wicket-keeper had shown ability to cut and employ the pull- drive. In eleven overs England added 62 runs before Brearley declared.

India faced a deficit of 323, and although the pitch remained in good order their task looked well-nigh hopeless. In the three previous Test innings, only two of their batsmen, Gavaskar and Viswanath, had coped ably. To their credit, India faced the challenge and the first four batsmen found the true form that they display on their own benign home surfaces.

They began their task one hour before lunch on the fourth day and Gavaskar and Chauhan saw them to 52 before the break. Edmonds bowled his left-arm slows throughout the second session and caused Chauhan some problems before he had him caught off bat and pad at ward short leg by Randall. Gavaskar showed his usual correct and competent methods until became unsettled against Botham and fell to the catch - already mentioned - by Brearley.

Thereupon began the long stand by Vengsarkar and Viswanath. Both played extremely well, Vengsarkar tall and upright leading the way, and when bad light stopped play fifteen minutes early India's total stood at 196 for two. Nevertheless, there was still a long way to go. thing next day sixty-five minutes were lost through a light shower, and there was another day of forty-five minutes at lunch, with the result that gradually England became desperate their failure to separate the pair. They had taken the new ball after one over in the morning and it was not until twenty minutes after tea, when both batsmen had completed their hundreds, that the partnership was broken. Vengsarkar lifted Edmonds to mid-on and Viswanath was taken by Gower at cover point off Lever. To Vengsarkar, who batted five and threequarter hours and hit thirteen boundaries, went the £300 Man of the Match award.- N.P.

© John Wisden & Co