Former Australian skipper Allan Border, whose brave declaration overnight on the final day of the Chennai Test between India and Australia in 1986 paved way for only the second-ever tied Test match in cricket history, believes that the match was a landmark one which kicked-off a great cricket rivalry between the two nations.
Border, who was in south Indian city recently, to take part in TNCA’s felicitation ceremony to remember the epic clash on its 30th anniversary that incidentally fell on the final of inaugural edition of the Tamil Nadu Premier League, spoke exclusively to Sportstar on the occasion, reflected back on the match, especially the seesaw final day, which ultimately ended in a tie on the second-last ball of the match.
“The tied Test was one of the great matches. It’s just a shame that it wasn’t televised because it was one of the games which went down to the second last ball of the match after five days.The conditions were quite impressive, it can be really hot and humid in these parts," Border said.
While Dean Jones won the Man-of-the-Match for a battling double century, Border believes that off-spinner Greg Mathews was the star performer in the match picking up ten wickets in the match, including the final wicket of Maninder Singh on the penultimate ball of the match.
“Dean Jones’s performance was outstanding, a career-defining innings from him in those conditions. Greg Matthews sometimes gets left out of the discussion, but when you think about it, he took 10 wickets in the match and on the last day he basically bowled unchanged from one end in those conditions. It was quite phenomenal,” he said.
Revealing his thoughts on the decision to retire, Border said that he never thought that the hosts would end up challenging for victory on the final day.
“It was an interesting situation. If you look at the history of the game till that point, 348 to win in 90 overs — four runs an over — that was going to be a tough task and hadn’t been done too often, maybe a couple of times in history. So we were fairly confident that India couldn’t get the runs, it was just that we had to take 10 wickets in that period of time — that is how we came to that decision. It was quite incredible how the day panned out,” Border said.
The two teams have been involved in a number of great matches as well as a few hotly contested affairs with the aggressive Sourav Ganguly and Virat Kohli at the helm for India, since then with the 2001 Test at Kolkata the standout one as the hosts came back roaring after being asked to follow-on, overturning the 274-run deficit in the first innings to win the match by 171 runs.
It was the dream partnership between VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid, who batted throughout Day 4 of the match that swung the match in India’s favour and Border conceded that the result has made Australian skippers reluctant about enforcing the follow-on since.
“We have had some incredible matches (between India and Australia),” Border said. “There was the VVS (Laxman) and (Rahul) Dravid match. Those are the things you don’t see very often. But it has made the Australian side a little bit shy about forcing follow-ons. I don’t remember Australia enforcing follow-on much after that.”