Third Test Match


At Nagpur, October 5, 6, 8, 9, 10. Drawn. If not as badly as the two previous Tests, the final match of the series was also rain-affected - to the extent of four and a half hours. But as much as loss of time, it was lack of initiative which prevented Pakistan from winning. India were more prepared to take risks in an attempt to force a result.

The appearance of the pitch was consistent with its history as one helpful to spin, and India, who aspired to winning in these conditions, increased their slow-bowling resources by including a newcomer in Raghuram Bhat (left-arm orthodox) at the expense of Binny. There were two other changes. Venkataraghavan lost his place to Kirti Azad, hard-hitting batsman and off-spinner, while Vengsarkar was included for the first time in the series when Amarnath fell ill on the morning of the match. Although dropped from the squad of fourteen, after failures in the first two Tests, Patil was flown in on a special plane, arriving after play had started. Despite predictions about the ball turning, Pakistan did not recall Iqbal Qasim. Salim Malik, fit to reclaim after illness his place from Qasim Omar, was their only change.

Play did not start until 50 minutes before tea on the first day. India, winning the toss and electing to bat, were confronted with a pitch that had sweated profusely under plastic covers and was two-paced, but, looking for runs eagerly, they were 92 for two from 33 overs at the close, Gavaskar unbeaten on 46. Attempts to accelerate next day induced instability in the Indian batting, although except for a brief period, when they were 103 for five, they stayed on the attack. Pakistan's tactics were more negative. Mohammad Nazir concentrated his off-spin on the leg stump, with a run-saving field, and Wasim Raja's leg-spin was not used.

Pakistan, whose own first innings lasted until 35 minutes after lunch on the fourth day, acquired a lead of 77, which was smaller than had seemed likely when at the close of the third day they were 219 for four, with Zaheer in full flow. Zaheer's 85 was his best score in nine Tests in India. With the ball turning Shastri was India's main wicket-taker. Bhat, the newcomer, was accurate, though lacking in variety. He struck twice, however, having Mudassar stumped off a particularly good ball.

At the close on the fourth day India, batting again, were 99 for one. Gaekwad, unable to fulfil his side's need for quick runs, gave himself up as soon as he and Gavaskar had wiped off the deficit. For all that the ball was turning copiously, Nazir, until the last morning, bowled with only one close catcher. The veteran off-spinner delivered all his 50 overs at one stretch, not coming off until the match was in its last hour, while opposite him Zaheer bowled Azeem or Tahir in mostly defensive modes - to one slip and a strong cordon of off-side fieldsmen. Raja was not called up until 45 minutes after lunch when India were 186 for five. He then immediately removed Patil and Kapil Dev and, with over two hours left, Pakistan had a glimpse of victory. But Madan Lal was dropped first ball, at silly point off Raja, before, with Kirmani, steering India clear of trouble.

© John Wisden & Co