Second Test Match

India v Pakistan 1979-80

At New Delhi, December 4, 5, 6, 8, 9. A venue notorious for producing some of the dullest Test matches was this time the scene of a fascinating encounter in which fortunes shifted many times as it moved to a gripping finish. India, heavily outplayed for most of the match, went to within 26 runs of winning and missed out only because they were not bold and imaginative enough to take their opportunities. Pakistan suffered from Imran Khan breaking down just as he looked like inflicting heavy damage on the Indian batting.

Pakistan, having won the toss for the second consecutive Test, batted on a pitch which had sweated under cover and was dampened further by a roller that picked up moisture on its passage across a dew-laden outfield. Consequently they had a disastrous morning, losing Majid, Mudassar and Zaheer for 36 runs to Kapil Dev, whose opening spell was quite menacing. Miandad was fourth out with less than 100 on the board.

The absence of a third seamer bowler of experience in India's attack facilitated Pakistan's recovery as Asif Iqbal and Wasim Raja put on 127 without being separated by the close. However, the second new ball, taken early on the second day, and a policy of trying to force the pace straight away saw the Pakistan innings come to grief. Asif was caught from a reckless slash and Raja, needing only 3 for his century, was lbw playing off his legs. The last six wickets produced only 53 runs, of which 30 were scored by Imran.

Pakistan retaliated strongly when India batted, despite being deprived of the services of Imran. The loss was emphasised by the speed and hostility with which he had bowled his first two overs before lunch, making Gavaskar fight hard for survival. Sikander Bakht, however, rose to the occasion. Bowling unchanged from the start of the innings, twenty-two minutes before lunch, making Gavaskar fight hard for survival. Sikander Bakht, however, rose to the occasion. Bowling unchanged from the start of the innings, twenty-two minutes before lunch, until bad light stopped play seven minutes ahead of schedule, he took eight wickets for 69 and effected the fall of a ninth by inadvertently deflecting the ball on to the stumps whil stopping a straight drive to run out Visawanath, the non-striker. Although India batted very poorly, finishing the day at 126 for nine, Sikander deserved great credit for exploiting their errors through his unerring direction on or just outside off stump.

India's innings would not have survived the second day had Doshi, the last man, not stayed in for the last forty-five minutes with Yashpal Sharma in what turned out to be the highest partnership of the innings. Pakistan, with a first innings lead of 147 and almost three full days remaining once Doshi was caught, could afford to spend some time over their second innings. To some extent, caution was forced on them by another poor start - 68 for 3 - bbut Asif and Wasim Raja, uncharacteristically sedate this time, dug in once more and had Pakistan in a strong position at stumps: 197 for four with a lead of 344 runs. This was a formidable advantage, particularly as Doshi had shown towards the end of the day that the ball was turning.

On the fourth day Pakistan once more collapsed quite dramatically, losing their six remaining wickets in one hour forty minutes for only another 45 runs. Asif, Raja and Imran all gave their wickets away with wanton shots.

India were left with 550 minutes to make 390 runs for victory, and at the close they had scored 117 for two wickets, one of them Gavaskar's. Vengsarkar remained unbeaten with 32, but the manner in which he obtained these runs did not suggest he would play a leading role in an Indian victory. On the final day, Viswanath started in commanding mood, promising to give the innings both solidity and impetus, but at 34, in a total of 154, he was beten by an unplayable ball from Iqbal Qasim, one which pitched on the leg stump and hit the off. This, however, was Pakistan's only gain during the morning. Sikander, who had taken the first two wickets on the previous day to achieve ten wickets in a Test, now showed the strain of his first innings efforts and bowled less accurately.

Vengsarkar's progress, such as it was, was funereal. He scored only 17 runs before lunch and maintained this pace for quite a portion of the afternoon. In the first hour after luch only 31 runs were added, and if the rate improved thereafter it owed much to the efforts of Yashpal. India's target in the ninety minutes after tea was 139, and at last Vegsarkar began to assert himself. There was a setback when, just before the start of the final twenty overs, Yashpal was caught and bowled by the admirable Sikander, a vital blow which contributed in no small measure to Pakistan escaping defeat. India needed 114 from the final twenty overs and were kept in touch by a hectic 21 from Kapil Dev. But Vengsarkar, who took seven hours seventeen minutes to reach his century and batted eight hours forty-seven minutes for his 146 not out, was too late in mounting a whole-hearted assault.

© John Wisden & Co