First Test Match


At Sydney, January 2, 3, 4. Australia won by an innings and 4 runs, with two days to spare. Although ten years a Test player, this was Greg Chappell's first Test against India. He made up for the wait with a masterly 204, which ended a brave counter-offensive by India and softened them up for the kill. Chappell's score, for which he was voted Man of the Match, was the highest by an Australian against India, surpassing by 3 runs Don Bradman's record set up 33 years previously. His innings, occupying six and threequarter hours spread over two days, was the more notable as he was taken ill with a violent stomach upset during the night, when he was 41.

With the pitch still retaining much moisture from its preparation, Gavaskar's decision to bat was inconsistent with India's move of going into the match with only one spinner, Doshi, off-spinner Yadav being left out. Edging Lillee to Marsh, who took five catches in the innings, Gavaskar himself went without a run on the board and India were routed for 201, the Australian pace bowlers getting lift as well as movement from the pitch.

Chauhan, Vengsarkar and Viswanath all looked to have settled in, but none made more than 26. The only score of note was a handsome 65 by Patil, who drove with great power against anything overpitched until his vulnerability to the short-pitched ball got him into trouble. Hooking a bumper from Pascoe, Patil, who like most of his team-mates batted without protective headgear, was struck a vicious blow over the ear and had to retire.

When Australia batted, Kapil Dev harnessed the aid from the pitch obtained earlier by Lillee and Pascoe. He removed Dyson and Wood in his first two overs but Chappell was soon in command, if not as belligerent as on the next day, and he and a steadfast Hughes took Australia to 72 for two at the close. Hughes did not last long the following morning, but the indisposed Chappell quickly cut loose and Australia rapidly drew away. Border and Walters played well in supporting their captain.

The second new ball was taken at 328 for four and the Indians must have feared the worst when Chappell took 12 runs in the first over from Kapil Dev, hitting the last three of his 27 4s. But, attempting a hook off Ghavri, he skied a catch - the stroke of a tired man. Walters had gone just before, edging a cut off Ghavri, who took five wickets in as many overs with the new ball.

Although the pitch had become quite tranquil, as was obvious from the fact that it took the Indians 35 minutes to take the last Australian wicket on the third morning, India were again bowled out in less than a day. Undisciplined batting was at the root of their collapse. The wind, blowing straight down the ground, was so strong that a fast bowler could operate from only one end. But that was of no help to India, who conceded wickets just as readily to Higgs, the leg-spinner, who thrived on a rare opportunity to bowl a long spell to take four for 45.

© John Wisden & Co