Memories of Tied Test II can never fade away

Every September 22, as inevitably as night follows day, my mind goes back to events that unfolded at the Chepauk ground in Chennai in 1986. It is 32 years now but in my mind’s eye it could be just yesterday that the unforgettable climax of Tied Test II was enacted at the cauldron that was the MA Chidambaram stadium. A tireless Greg Matthews, sleeves buttoned at the wrist, wearing the baggy green cap running in to bowl to Maninder Singh. The Indian No 11 goes back, is rapped on the pads, there is an impassioned appeal and umpire Vikram Raju lifts his finger. The time is 5.18 pm. The near capacity crowd erupts. They know that they have had the rare privilege of being part of cricket history – only the second tied Test in 109 years and 1052 matches.

Yes, the Test between India and Australia ended in a tie following the only other such result in Test history – at Brisbane in December 1960 between Australia and West Indies. And there were heroes aplenty. The first was Dean Jones who came up with one of the most heroic displays on a cricket field. The heat and humidity was energy sapping and in these adverse conditions when cricketers unused to them would have collapsed Jones stuck it out like few men have. Ultimately however the stifling heat got to him and he started retching by the side of the crease. Despite being overcome by dehydration he refused to leave the crease and after receiving some treatment continued to bat. Overcome yet again by nausea and leg cramps he again received treatment but refused to budge. Amidst thunderous applause Jones reached his double hundred. Shortly afterwards he was out for 210 but not before he had occupied the crease for eight hours and 23 minutes. Back in the comparative cool of the dressing room Jones was found to be completely dehydrated. He was rushed to hospital and put on saline treatment. Fed intravenously that’s where he stayed for the rest of the night.

Another hero was Kapil Dev. In the face of a massive Australian total of 574 for seven declared, India lost wickets at regular intervals and were facing the prospect of a follow on. But then the Indian captain embarked on a thrilling counter attack that left the Australian bowlers lost for ideas, the fielders gaping and the crowd in throes of excitement. With only the tailenders for company he hit his way to a breath taking 119 with 21 fours before being last out at 397. With the follow on averted the match seemed headed for a draw and the Aussies reinforced this view by trotting to 170 for five off 49 overs by stumps on the fourth day.

On the final morning there was hardly any excitement about the result but then came the news that Australia had declared at the overnight total and set India a victory target of 348 in 87 overs. This opened up a whole lot of possibilities – but never the thought of a tie!

Matthews was the hero on the final day. The off spinner had already taken five wickets in the first innings and now he stuck it out in the heat and humidity battling the tense pressure cooker situation best as the pendulum swung this way and that. It first looked like a draw, then India seemed to have wrapped things up, then late in the evening the Australians scented victory. Matthews kept bowling from one end taking the wickets at regular intervals and fittingly enough his tenth wicket of the match was the last to fall – Maninder Singh leg before with one ball to spare. It was a tie after all with both teams scoring 744 runs.

More from the web