With the rival sides fatigued, both mentally and physically, at the end of an arduous season, the Test match to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Board of Control for Cricket in India produced poor cricket. But it was redeemed by an extraordinary all-round performance by Botham, whose versatility was in full bloom. There was hardly a session on which he did not bring his influence to bear, performing the unprecedented feat of scoring a century and capturing thirteen wickets in a Test. Taylor, the England wicket-keeper, also established a new world Test record by taking ten catches in the match.
To England, after the Test series in Australia, this success, even if inspired by one man, brought welcome relief. But for India, the defeat ended an unbeaten run of fifteen Test matches, four of which they had won.
With the pitch uncharacteristically grassy, England were at no disadvantage from losing the toss; even less so as an overcast sky was a further aid to swing and cut on the opening morning. The Indians, jaded after playing sixteen Tests in the past seven months, could not summon the application and discipline needed to combat these conditions and were bowled out in less than a day for 242, Botham taking six for 58 and Taylor taking seven catches. India would have fared even worse but for gallant resistance from the lower order of their batting.
Batting as indifferently as they did in Australia, England at 58 for five looked most unlikely to match India's score, let alone build on the advantage created by their bowlers. But they were only 13 runs behind when they lost their next wicket two hours twenty minutes later. Botham, batting for 206 minutes and hitting 17 4s, scored 114 in an innings which was responsible and yet not lacking in enterprise. His stand of 171 with Taylor was England's best-ever sixth-wicket partnership against India. Taylor remained entrenched until the third day was more than an hour old and altogether scored 43 in a stay of four and a half hours. Yet their stand could have been cut short at only 85 when umpire Hanumantha Rao upheld an appeal against Taylor for a catch behind the wicket, off Kapil Dev. Taylor hesitated and protested at the decision. Viswanath, the Indian captain, who was fielding at first slip, was as certain as the batsman that there had been no contact and persuaded the umpire to rescind his verdict.
Even on the third day there was sufficient bounce and movement off the seam to trouble the Indian batsmen. Showing little spirit, India were only 2 runs ahead with half their second-innings wickets gone, and but for an innings of 45 not out by Kapil Dev, who batted in the forthright manner of Botham, the match might not have gone into the fourth day.
The recent history of Test pitches at the Wankhede Stadium - earlier in the season both Australia and Pakistan were beaten in four days, with spinners causing the havoc - prompted England to equip themselves with two specialist spinners in Underwood and Emburey. In the event Underwood bowled only seven overs and Emburey none at all. Of the ten wickets captured by the Indians, their opening bowlers, Ghavri and Kapil Dev, took five and three wickets, respectively.