On this day: The second-ever tied Test match at the Chepauk
The iconic MA Chidambaram Stadium at Chennai has seen many memorable Test matches over the years but very few come close to the excitement of the 1st Test match between India and Australia in 1986. The enormity of the result can be easily understood by the fact that only two of the 2220 Tests played since 1877 have ended level even after five days of action.
The very same venue is in the thick of the action today with the final of the inaugural edition of the Tamil Nadu Premier League set to take place later tonight with the Chepauk Super Gillies taking on Tuti Patriots. Ironically, it was on this very same day, 30 years ago, that the crowd at Chepauk began to witness what would turn out to be one of the most exciting Test matches in cricket history.
Even more exciting is the prospect that many of the players who made a mark in that match, including Man-of-the-Match Dean Jones, Australia’s skipper Allan Border, Indian opener Kris Srikanth as well as all-rounder Ravi Shastri, are expected to be present at the venue for the TNPL final.
Australia’s dominant display
The way Australia started off proceedings in the match, not many would have foreseen the exciting finish that would unfold on the final day. After skipper Allan Border won the toss and elected to bat first, opener David Boon and No 3 batsman Dean Jones gave them the perfect start with the former scoring 122 runs while Jones went on to score an epic double century.
During his knock which lasted well over eight hours at the crease, Jones toiled with the Indian bowlers along with Boon as well as Border who joined the party later on with a century of his own. Powered by Jones’ 210, Australia notched up 574 in the first innings for the loss of seven wickets before asking India to bat.
The game was already into the third day and many were expecting the match to either see the Australian dominance continue with the ball or the game ending up in a tame draw with the hosts boasting a formidable batting line-up of their own. The battle turned out to be an interesting one in the end with the Indian batsmen failing to build on their starts and it was only because of skipper Kapil Dev’s fighting century that the hosts managed to avoid following on in the first innings.
The Indian innings wound up at 397 giving the visitors a lead of 177 runs and Australia would once again set about their scoring with care. They would end day 4 at 170/5 in their second innings with the match well in their control and heading to a tame draw.
Border’s brave declaration
While many expected the Australian batsmen to play on the final day, Border stunned everyone by declaring at their overnight score to set India a target of 348 runs to win the match. Needing to score at 4 runs an over for a victory, a draw was very much the most expected result but with someone like Kris Srikanth opening the innings for India, anything could have happened.
The home crowd favourite made his case by scoring a quickfire 39 but following his dismissal the duo of Sunil Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath was more concerned about heading India to safety rather than chasing the target. With Gavaskar still at the crease and eight wickets in hand heading to the post-tea session requiring 155 runs off 30 overs, India were still in with a chance as Australia failed to get the wickets that they were hoping for on the final day.
The seesaw final session
The final session of the match saw a seesaw battle unfold with both sides having their moments of joy. Gavaskar fell 10 runs short of a century soon after the restart and the quick dismissals of Mohammed Azharuddin and Kapil Dev left the match tantalisingly poised with the hosts requiring 95 runs more with five wickets in hand.
Ravi Shastri walked into the middle and joined wicketkeeper Chandrakant Pandit and set about a little cameo that many feel was one of the best of his Test career.
The allrounder, who eventually, scored 48 runs from just 40 balls in a knock which featured three boundaries and two huge sixes and along with Pandit and later Chetan Sharma seemed to lead India to a thrilling victory. Just 17 runs were required with four wickets in hand before Australia’s left-arm spinner Ray Bright picked up two quick wickets.
Shivlal Yadav, coming in at No 10, opted to take things into his own hands and made a good start hitting a six over the long-on fielder but went for a hit one too many as he went for an elaborate sweep with four runs away from a victory and ended up seeing the ball rattle the leg stump.
Yadav would later confess: ”Ravi and I should have got the runs. It was a rush of blood that made me go for the stroke.”
The final over would see Greg Mathews, who had picked up nine wickets so far in the match, walk in to bowl his 40th over on the trot. Shastri was on strike and India needed four runs for a win. A double off the second delivery and a single off the third meant that No. 11 Maninder Singh would require to score a single off the final three deliveries off the match for what looked like an unlikely victory like forever but it was not to be.
Having defended the fourth delivery of the over, Maninder Singh was adjudged lbw off the fifth delivery in a decision that is still disputed upon. The fact though remains that the monumental decision by umpire Vikram Raju made the match one that is being talked about even twenty years later as only one of the two tied matches in the illustrious history of the longest and most traditional format of the game.
Brief scores: Australia 574/7 declared and 170/5 declared; India 397 all out and 347 all out
Result: Match tied