First Test Match


Toss: Australia. Test debuts: India - D.R.Doshi.

Although rain seriously disrupted play on the last two days, a decisive result already looked unlikely after both sides, helped by dropped catches, had raised substantial first innings totals. Ironically, the Australians were better acclimatised than the home side, having practised in these conditions for almost a week, with two pre-Test matches. The Indians, however, had just returned from England, the Test match starting only a week after the end of the epic fourth test at The Oval. Besides being travel-weary, they had to adjust hurriedly to vast differences in weather, light and pitch conditions.

To the Indians therefore, losing the toss was not a big disadvantage. Australia batted for over eight hours to score 390, with most of the runs coming from a record third wicket partnership of 222 between Border and Hughes.

Australia would have had to struggle harder had Ghavri bowled a straighter line in conditions favourable to swing bowling. Furthermore, the important partnership between Border and Hughes could have been broken quite early for, before he had scored, Border was put down at backward short-leg - ironically, by Yajurvindra Singh, an outstanding close-fielder. Border made India pay heavily for this lapse, hitting one 6 and 24 4s in just under seven hours. He was eventually out in a most unfortunate manner. Backing up at the non-striker's end, he was caught out of his ground when a furious straight drive by Yallop was deflected by the bowler on to the stumps.

Hughes played responsibly for his century, which occupied two hundred and seventy-one minutes. He, too, had an escape when he was 65. This innings declined sharply after the dissolution of this partnership, the last seven wickets falling for only 72 runs. The havoc was wrought by left-arm spinner Doshi who, playing in his maiden Test, took six wickets for 103.

Although India scored 425 in reply, the size of their total belied the struggle that went into its making. The innings was marked by several crises and the Indian batting never got into top gear. The only batsmen to achieve any freedom were Gavaskar, who made 50 after surviving a confident appeal for lbw at 20, and Kapil Dev, who scored 83 off 73 balls.

The presence of Hogg in the Australian attack presumably influenced the preparation of a pitch slower than usual at Chepauk. As it was the Indians were hardly disconcerted by Hogg who, apart from being unable to achieve any pace, had immense trouble in keeping his front foot behind the popping crease. The bowler to test the Indian batting was Higgs, who was remarkably tidy for a leg-spinner and took seven wickets, for 143, suffering only at the hands of Kapil Dev.

When batting a second time, Australia were again sustained by Border. He and Hilditch added 101 for the second wicket before Australia were put under heavy stress by the spin of Doshi and Venkataraghavan. Tailenders Dymock and Hogg came together twenty minutes after lunch to rescue innings at 175 for seven. Both were dropped early in their innings but, with rain having the final word, these errors amounted to little, although they might have proved crucial had the contest not been interrupted.

© John Wisden & Co