Fifth Test Match


At Madras, December 24, 25, 27, 28. Australia won by 77 runs one hour after lunch on the fourth day, with more than two days to spare. The Test was scheduled for six days, according to the playing conditions of the tour, as at the end of the third Test the teams were level in the series. The victory enabled Australia to come out with a triumphant 3-1 margin in the series.

Australia's success, in a sense, was close. At one stage on the third day defeat stared them in the face when there was a sharp batting collapse, but Redpath and Mayne pulled their side out through a plucky stand of 50 runs for the eighth wicket. Set to make 249 runs for a win, India seemed well placed when Wadekar and Viswanath were concerned in a splendid stand of 112 for the third wicket, but when it was broken the innings broke down.

Due to continuous rain for a month before the match, preparation of the pitch began only a week before the start. Though the pitch did not break up altogether, it developed spots and forced a hesitant approach on the batsmen. Twenty-six of the 39 wickets that fell were claimed by spinners.

Australia won the toss and Lawry and Stackpole put on 60 for the first wicket. When they were separated only an aggressive century by Walters held the innings together. Walters should have been out at four, but Engineer missed an easy stumping chance off Bedi. Walters went on to score 102, his only century of the tour, hitting two 6's and fourteen 4's. He was not, however, in full flow because of a strong leg-side field of seven men and bowling aimed at the middle and leg stumps. He hit mostly off the back foot and executed quite a few cuts moving away from the ball.

India, who had not once taken the lead on the first innings, failed again, being dismissed for 163. The lead of 85 proved more or less the winning margin for Australia. The Indian batsmen were in sore trouble against the off-spin of Mallett, losing five batsmen for 96 runs before Pataudi and Engineer brought a partial recovery. The Indian captain recaptured his true form after a long lapse and Engineer hit a swashbuckling 32. Pataudi hit two 6's and five 4's.

Then came one of the wildest turns of events in the series when Prasanna, on the third day, through a brilliant spell of bowling, had the Australians reeling at 24 for six. He dismissed Lawry, Sheahan and Taber in 20 balls for eight runs, but as in the first innings, lapses in fielding cost India dear. Redpath was missed twice at the wicket. Despite these blemishes Redpath played a sterling knock of 63. The left-handed Mayne, who came into the side in place of Freeman, as the latter was unwell, gave crucial support while helping to add 50 runs for the seventh wicket. Prasanna finished with six wickets for 74 and a match tally of ten for 174.

But once again the Indian batsmen failed, apart from Wadekar and Viswanath who dominated the bowling during a comfortable stand of 102. On the third evening they rattled up 63 in an hour after tea and on the next morning they had just completed a hundred for the stand when Mayne accomplished another good turn for his side by dismissing Wadekar. That proved to be the turning point as Mallett caused a collapse. He claimed five for 53 and his match figures were ten for 144.

© John Wisden & Co