Fifth Test Match


At Georgetown, April 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. Drawn. Toss: India.

Guyana's notoriously fickle weather once more dogged the Indians. All but one of their six Tests scheduled for Bourda have been seriously disrupted by rain and, in 1975-76, the match was switched to Port-of-Spain as the outfield was a lake. This time, showers left parts of the inadequately covered ground so soft that play was not possible between the end of the uninterrupted first day and the last session of the fourth.

As in Antigua, West Indies proposed abandoning the Test for a one-day game; again, no agreement was reached. Even before the rain, however, the Test had developed into a tiresome tactical impasse. Needing a rare overseas victory to square the series, India took the positive option of omitting a batsman, Ganguly, for a bowler, Ganesh, but were so conscious of their reduced batting power and the need not to waste the toss that they were into the 37th over when Sidhu was second out at 68. Then Tendulkar crashed two of his first four balls to the boundary, threatening to raise the tempo. West Indies, however, resorted to the demeaning tactic of using Chanderpaul to bowl his quick leg-breaks well wide of leg stump from round the wicket, with six fielders on the leg side, for 18 overs after tea. Tendulkar and Dravid made no effort to counter the ploy.

When play resumed, an hour after tea on the fourth day, interest was restricted to personal milestones. Dravid and Tendulkar again fell short of the hundreds they had narrowly missed in previous Tests. But, on the last day, Azharuddin finally gathered the runs he needed to become the fifth Indian - after Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Gundappa Viswanath and Kapil Dev - to pass 5,000, in his 83rd Test. A hundred against West Indies, the only team except Zimbabwe missing from his set, still eluded him: he was caught behind for 31. India batted to the bitter end, scoring 355 at a laborious 2.1 an over.

There was some overdue compensation for a crowd that doubled to around 6,000 on the final afternoon, in the entertainment provided by the batsmen: Williams, Lara, who stroked a delightful 30 - five fours and a six - off 16 balls, and Chanderpaul, opening because Campbell had sinusitis, and reaching 50 for the 15th time in 21 Tests. Even then, the ending was insensitive: the fielders walked off eight overs early, in bright sunshine before an expectant crowd.

Men of the Match: S. Chanderpaul and R. Dravid.

Close of play: First day, India 194-2 (R. Dravid 71*, S. R. Tendulkar 62*); Second day, No play; Third day, No play; Fourth day, India 241-4 (M. Azharuddin 4*, N. R. Mongia 0*).

© John Wisden & Co