Fifth Test


Toss: England. Debuts: India - A.Malhotra, Pranab Roy.

A pitch similar to those at Bangalore and New Delhi tilted the match unrealistically in favour of the bat, the inevitable upshot being a high-scoring, slow-paced draw in which only seventeen wickets fell. Viswanath, whose 222 was the highest by an Indian against England (beating Gavaskar's 221 at The Oval in 1979), and Gooch, who reached his hundred off 140 balls, played the best innings of the match.

For India's third wicket, 415 runs were added by three batsmen: Viswanath, the common denominator, Vengsarkar, who was obliged to retire hurt at 150 when he ducked into a low-flying bouncer from Willis, and Yashpal Sharma, who in 492 minutes of stolid accumulation helped Viswanath add the remaining 316. The entire stand, scored at 3.44 an over, spanned ten and a quarter hours, during which time the population of India was said to have risen by 75,000. The 316 put on by Viswanath and Yashpal was a third-wicket record for India in all Tests, and the highest for any wicket in Tests between England and India.

Viswanath batted for 632 minutes, a wristy, rounded innings marred only by a missed slip catch at 141 (one of three dropped off the hapless Allott) and an uppish leg-glance off Dilley at 103, which on his best day Taylor might have caught. Towards the end of India's innings, when they were pressing for a declaration, Yashpal opened up, hooking and picking up Allott for 6s off successive balls; but he was overshadowed first by Viswanath and then by Gooch, who with a series of cleanly hit drives off Kapil Dev, front foot and back, passed 50 in an hour on his way to 127 in three and threequarter hours. By contrast Tavaré, taking Boycott's place as Gooch's partner, took Fletcher's invitation to bat as long as possible so literally that his 35 lasted five and a half hours.

Despite the batting of Viswanath and Gooch, the best session of the match was the first, in which India, put in, scored a numerically trivial but none the less vital 49 for the loss of only Roy off 24 overs. Its highlight was a superb duel between Gavaskar and Willis, who on a pitch that was then extremely lively, turned the clock back years with a spell of scalding pace and straightness. Roy, under less pressure from a wayward Botham (threequarters fit following a day in bed and an almost sleepless night), held on for a crucial 82 minutes, and by lunch, with Gavaskar and Vengsarkar still there, England's chance had gone. Had Gavaskar not played so skilfully, and had the catches stuck, India might have been 45 for five at lunch. Yet, with the pitch developing into a featherbed so soon, it would have needed a major effort by England's bowlers to dismiss them a second time.

© John Wisden & Co