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Only in the 160s did we think that a miracle was possible

After trailing one-nil in the three-Test series, we had do something out of the ordinary to save that series. The historic MCG provided the perfect setting, writes Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2003 22:56 IST

After trailing one - nil in the three-Test series, we had do something out of the ordinary to save that series. The historic MCG provided the perfect setting. It was raining in Melbourne a couple days before the start, but it looked pleasant. Then as soon as we were given the first taste of the wicket, it revealed its ugly side.

Lillee and Pascoe made the ball do the tricks on a wicket that brought both, our confidence and belief crashing down. I went for a duck. And minus Gundappa Vishwanath, who draped our lacklustre performance with modesty slamming a memorable hundred, our score would’ve embarassed anyone.

Vishwanath needed runs, as he hadn't been playing well in that series. After the shaky 20s, where he struggled for rhythm, Vishy was soon starting to reveal his real self. Together with Patil, Kirmani and then Yadav, he carved out important partnerships before falling as the ninth man with 114 to his credit.

But soon, the Aussie batsmen started to slaughter us. Bahut pitai ki. A young Allan Border scored a century, captain Greg Chappell made 76 and Dougie Walters, grafted 78 to leave us helpless. The wicket had suddenly turned beautiful and batsman friendly.

We were looking down the barrel and with 182 run deficit, all we could have thought of was a miracle to save the Test. When I padded up and walked with Gavaskar to the wicket, the only thing we thought was how to hang around.

We told each other: "We have to bat for as long as possible with about two-and-a-half days remaining." At stumps we were 108 without loss that say, a commendable effort by both of us and then, the next morning we continued our innings.

It was in the early 160s that we actually thought that we could perform a miracle. But soon Gavaskar fell to a really poor decision. Leg before to Lillee, for 70 that led to the walkout incident. Ball had clearly struck the bat first before hitting the pad. We both walked but after directions from the dressing room I decided to go back to the crease.

Vengsarkar, Vishwanath and Patil continued the good work but then all fell apart. By the end we had given them a modest 143 to chase with a day in hand. That evening when we went into Kapil Dev's room - Kapil hadn't taken the field on day four - we urged him to just be ready anyhow he could. We all went to his room in a group of two or three.

Australia are going in the fifth day at 24 for 3 and with all their batting still to come. You'll have to do something," we all said to him. He obliged and next day he bowled as if there was no tomorrow, making full use of the wicket that was keeping low on the fifth day.

By the time we got Kim Hughes, we knew we’d win. The win was sweeter after Ian Chappell had made an infamous remark: "India love losers' money." — As told to Khurram Habib

First Published: Dec 16, 2003 22:56 IST