Fifth Test Match


At Bombay ( Brabourne Stadium), February 6, 7, 8, 10, 11. Drawn. India won the rubber in the series by 2--1. A good pitch, that helped the batsmen to play their strokes and then slowly turned in favour of the bowlers, found Engineer and Viswanath for India and Fletcher and Greig for England hit centuries, Chandrasekhar set up a new record of 35 wickets for a series by an Indian bowler and Bedi and Underwood bowled extremely well to trouble the batsmen.

Durani was back in the team largely due to public opinion which reacted sharply to his being dropped for the fourth Test. Though he batted as was his wont he was unfit to run after the ball and was a burden to his side while fielding. Obviously, he could not ask for a substitute.

After Wadekar had won the toss, for the fourth time in the series, India scored 250 for four wickets by stumps on the opening day. Though Old bowled Gavaskar with a fine inswinger at the start, Engineer and Wadekar added 192 runs for the second wicket. Engineer played his strokes without any inhibitions and attacked the half-volley and long hop firmly. Wadekar batted in superlative style, cutting, driving and pulling with power. The pair added 63 runs in the third hour of play, the best for India so far. In sight of his hundred, Wadekar suddenly lapsed into playing a weak drive off Birkenshaw, whom Lewis had brought on more in a moment of desperation, it seemed, to give a catch to Old at mid-on. In the next over the off-spinner dismissed Engineer with a full toss which the batsman pulled into the hands of Roope at mid-on. Engineer had one escape at 70 when Roope at short leg dropped him off Underwood. One run after Engineer's exit, Underwood bowled Pataudi with an excellent delivery that whipped through straight to the stumps. The day's play ended with Durani plundering 18 runs off four balls from Underwood, with a six and three 4's.

Durani and Viswanath had lucky escapes the next morning. Durani was 21 when he snicked Old, bowling with the second new ball, to slips where Greig dropped the catch. On 39 Viswanath was beaten out of the crease by a ball from Birkenshaw, and Knott missed a catch, as the ball had gone off the inner edge of the bat, and also an easy stumping. The two batsmen then entrenched themselves to add 150 runs for the fifth wicket, which had a big say in India building up a score of 448 and making them safe from defeat. Durani scored 73 runs, playing tempestuous cover drives, square cuts and a cracking 6 over long-on off Birkenshaw. Viswanath was in a happy mood and after reaching his 50, unfolded a sequence of exciting late cuts, square and cover drives. He reached 100 comfortably and broke the hoodoo that seemed to hang over Indian batsmen who had hit a century on their Test debut but had failed to repeat the feat. The Indian innings ended forty minutes after tea, the only outstanding incident in this time being a splendid diving catch that Denness took at extra-cover off Old to sent back Solkar. Denness was injured in the process and consequently batted lower in the order.

Lewis opened the England innings in his place and had the discomfiture of playing the first ball from Abid Ali on to his stumps. Roope then fell while hooking a ball from Chandrasekhar into the hands of Abid Ali at backward short leg. Underwood joined Knott as nightwatchman and halted the bowlers' successes. Underwood, however, was out early on the third day and Knott was trapped by Chandrasekhar lbw after a quick fifty, after which Greig joined Fletcher for a record stand of 254 runs for the fifth wicket against any country. After a quiet period before lunch, the two blasted the Indian bowling except that of Bedi, to add 138 runs in the two hours to tea, with 71 of them in just 12 overs in the fourth hour. After getting their hundreds after tea, the pair quietened down. Fletcher played controlled strokes but Greig delighted the crowd with the grace and power of his driving and pulling. The saving grace for India was Bedi who bowled with amazing consistency, his figures at the end of the day being 40.5-15-72-2.

From 333 for five on the third day, England overhauled India's total the next day, though Chandrasekhar and Bedi prevented a big lead being taken. Chandrasekhar took three wickets, including that of Greig, to equal the Indian record of V. M. Mankad and S. P. Gupte of 34 wickets for a series. Tea was taken at the end of the innings, after which Gavaskar and Engineer put on 102 runs by stumps for the first wicket. Gavaskar excelled in straight driving. The features of the play till lunch on the last day were the fine bowling of Underwood and the batting of Viswanath and Durani. After the break the match deteriorated, providing an anti-climax to the match as well as to the series. Pataudi struggled--he remained static at five for 65 minutes--for his five runs and Wadekar, deciding to play absolutely safe, declared at tea. England did not attempt to score 203 runs in ninety minutes. The only noteworthy point was Chandrasekhar setting up a new record of 35 wickets when he bowled Knott with a splendid slanted ball.

© John Wisden & Co