Four protagonists of tied Test feted

The Test will not be clouded by the mists of time. After rousing edge-of-the-seat fare, the first India-Australia Test of the 1986 series ended in excruciating tension. Amidst scenes of relief, joy and anguish, the game of fortune swings catapulted its way to only the second tie in Test history.

TIME TO RECOUNT : Former cricketers K. Srikkanth, Dean Jones, Ravi Shastri and Allan Border along with TNCA president N. Srinivasan during the felicitation in Chennai on Sunday. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

The Test that got underway on September 18, 1986, celebrated its 30th anniversary with much fanfare here on Sunday.

Back at the same venue, four of the principal protagonists from the match, Allan Border, Dean Jones, Ravi Shastri and Krishnamachari Srikkanth were felicitated by the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association president N. Srinivasan during the break between the innings in the TNPL final.

It was a special occasion, one that celebrated the game and brought back memories.

The resourceful Border led without fear, his bold declaration at 170 for five leaving India 348 to get on the final day. “We reckoned we had a better chance of picking up 10 wickets than India scoring nearly 350 runs. It was quite a lot in a day those days.”

Before the Test reached its explosive climax, there was a 210 of blood, guts and fierce determination by Jones. He battled severe dehydration in extreme heat and humidity, vomited at regular intervals, but did not give his wicket away.

In all, Jones was at the crease for 502 minutes before he was taken to hospital to be administered drips. “It was one of the bravest displays I have seen in cricket,” recollected Border.

Australia declared at a whopping 574 for seven and India was under pressure right away.

“India was kept in the hunt by a counter-attacking 119 by Kapil Dev. He batted brilliantly,” said Border.

Ahead by 177 in the first innings, Australia reached 170 for five by the conclusion of day four before throwing down the gauntlet at India.

India accepted the challenge. Sunil Gavaskar (90) and Srikkanth (39) gave host a bright start. “Gavaskar batted superbly. The partnership between Gavaskar and Mohinder Amarnath (51) laid the platform for the Indian chase,” recalled Border.

Tense climax
The Test twisted and turned as it reached the climactic phase. The Australian bowlers, led by the combative off-spinner Greg Matthews, made inroads. But then, a fighting Ravi Shastri (48 not out) rallied with the lower order.

“We thought we were going to lose,” admitted Border. “Then we picked wickets again, Matthews bowled exceedingly well. It boiled down to India needing a run off the last two balls. Maninder Singh was on strike, Matthews had the ball.

“I was fielding close to the wicket, Matthews bowled and from the corner of my eye I could see all our fielders jumping around. There was much relief among my men since we could have lost. The leg-before decision had been given quickly.”

To this day, Maninder maintains he had nicked the ball.

In any case, history had been made at Chepauk.