HT This Day: September 23, 1986 — Historic ‘tie’ at Chepauk

Cricket history was re-enacted at the Chepauk here today when the first Test between India and Australia ended in an incredible and pulsating tie
HT This Day: September 23, 1986 — Historic ‘tie’ at Chepauk
HT This Day: September 23, 1986 — Historic ‘tie’ at Chepauk
Published on Sep 21, 2021 07:30 PM IST
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By HT Correspondent, Madras

Cricket history was re-enacted at the Chepauk here today when the first Test between India and Australia ended in an incredible and pulsating tie.

Amid scenes of mounting tension and excitement, India, chasing a victory target of 348 runs in 87 overs, were all out for 347 in the penultimate ball of the five-day match. The only other tie in cricket history took place 26 years ago. That was when Richie Benaud’s Australia tied with Frank Worrell’s West Indies in the dramatic first Test at Brisbane in December, 1960.

When Australia declared their second innings this morning at the overnight score of 170 for five, it was a fair decision by skipper Allan Border who, in his wildest of dreams, would not have imagined of a breathtaking finish to the match. And in the end, it was Kapil Dev’s India who narrowly missed greater glory by just one run. An Indian victory was very much on the cards till the penulatimate over when they needed only seven runs from 12 balls with two wickets in hand.

However, that was not to be as left arm spinner Ray Bright dismissed Shivlal Yadav and then off-spinner Greg Mathews trapped last man Mahinder Singh leg-before in the fifth ball of the last over to tie the match. The tireless efforts of Bright and Mathews also saved Australia from the embarrassment of losing the match after piling up the mammoth total of 574 for seven in the first innings.

At one stage during the mandatory session of 20 over’s, Australia had almost given up the match when they resorted to pressure tactics and gamesmanship. It was to the credit of umpires Data Dotiwala and Vikram Raju that they withstood the pressure and called the bluff when the Australians indulged in time-wasting tactics, perhaps, with the hope of fading light intervening on their behalf.

“We are upset”, was terse comments of Australian team manager Alan Crompton about the match. Cricket manager and former skipper Bob Simpson was gracious when he said: “It was the right result for positive cricket.” Skipper Kapil Dev dedicated the Indian performance to team effort. But be had special praise for two seasoned campaigners, Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath, for the build-up of the Indian innings. “Though we lost wickets, we were also gaining runs,” was how Kapil justified the Indian strategy during the mandatory overs.

India were favourably placed at the start of the 20 mandatory overs at 230 for three. It was only when they tried to hit out against the accurate spin attack of Mathews and Bright that they began to lose wickets. The last four wickets, which fetched 152 runs in the first innings, could get only 16 runs this evening.

Various interpretations could be made from the different cameos of the Indian onslaught. The most commanding innings came from Gavaskar who missed his 33rd Test hundred by just 10 runs. The most stylish knock came from Amarnath, the most fortuitous form Srikkanth, while Chetan Sharma and Yadav vied for the most unselfish. Besides, there was the pleasing 39 from Pandit and an audacious, unbeaten 48 from Shastri.

The match rules stipulated that India had 67 overs at their disposal for four and a half hours play, besides the 20 mandatory overs. A target of 348 in a day suggested a need of concentration rather than a reason for consternation. Instead, it was a pleasant surprise for the 25,000 fans that thronged the giant Chidambaram Stadium when India accepted the challenge right from the start.

The pitch offered encouragement to the spinners but it seemed possible to score runs if enough patience and application could be mustered. Gavaskar and Amarnath certainly showed the necessary qualities with a 103-run stand for the second wicket although Srikkanth had lost his patience just before lunch. Earlier, paceman McDermott was slugged out of the firing line. Left-arm speedster Reid varied pace with optimism but with unavailing results. And till tea, when India were 193 for two, Australia’s efforts were maximum perseverance with minimal inspiration.

After Gavaskar’s dismissal, when Jones took a diving catch at cover, Azharuddin showed good reflexes and Pandit exemplary footwork as they raised visions of an Indian victory. There then followed a slump when Azhar and skipper Kapil left in quick succession. It was then that Shastri took charge with two on-side sixes off Mathews.

Thereafter, fortune fluctuated when Chetan and More fell to Bright. Yaday, too, swing Mathews for a six before he was bowled by Bright. At that stage India were 344 for nine with eight balls to go.

Maninder safely played two balls from Bright and then Shastri got ready to face Mathews in the last over. After a defensive push, Shastri took two runs when Waugh misfielded at mid-wicket. The Indian vice-captain then took a single to tie the scores. With the Australian fielders swooping around like vultures, Maninder survived the fourth ball before he fell leg-before to Mathews.

Mathews was the epitome of accuracy. His haul of five for 146 took his match figures to 10 for 249. Bright, who claimed five wickets for 94 runs, too was never far away from the stumps but at times his line wavered. “Mathews and Bright helped our cause at the right moment,” said skipper Border. They also salvaged some of the Aussie pride in the process.

Dean Jones and Kapil Dev shared the Man-of-the-Match award for their batting exploits in the first innings.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021