Friday, 28 December, 2007

The great Indian run chase...

Flashback to the 1967-68 series against Australia. Indian team, led by Tiger Pataudi, had arrived in Brisbane for the third test, with Australia leading the four test series 2-0. ML Jaisimha had joined the team, just hours before the test, as a replacement for Chandra. (Yes, an opening bat replacing a leg spinner. Strange were/are the ways of Indian selectors). But the jet lag did not prevent Jaisimha from scoring a solid half-century in the first innings. Set to score a daunting 395 runs in the fourth innings, India soon slumped to 191/5, at which point Chandu Borde joined the stylish Hyderabadi. They carried the score to 310 and just when India's first win on Aussie soil looked probable, Borde glanced one down to fine leg for Ian Redpath to snap a good catch. Indians folded for 355, falling short of the Aussie total by a mere 39 runs.
Scorecard

Clive Hubert Lloyd's captaincy was under serious threat. The Australian attack led by Lillee and Thomson had walloped Windies 5-1, just few months ago. Against this background, Indians arrived in West Indies to play a four test series in 1976. West Indies won the first test and narrowly avoided a defeat in the second. Indians had sensed blood. Port of Spain, where the second and third tests were scheduled, was Gavaskar's favourite hunting ground. Set a near impossible target of 403 runs, which hitherto only Don's Bradman's invincible team had achieved way back in 1948, most Indians had given up hope. The batsmen though, had other ideas. Gavaskar laid a solid foundation with a regulatory century, only for Mohinder Amarnath and Gundappa Vishwanath to cap it with a fine victory. India won that match by whopping six wickets to set a new fourth innings record then.
Scorecard

Fast forward to the 1977-78 series. Kerry Packer had wrecked most cricket teams around the world. Australia being the home country was never going to be an exception. Amongst the major players, only Jeff Thomson had decided to stay back with the national team. Bobby Simpson was forced out of retirement to lead a hugely weakened Australian team. The five match series was tied 2-2 when the teams arrived at Adelaide for the series decider. Australians had set an improbable target of 494 runs in the fourth innings. Almost every frontline Indian batsman chipped in, with Amarnath, Vishwanath, Vengsarkar and Kirmani scoring creditable half centuries. Their valiant effort was in vain however as the team fell short of the mammoth Aussie total by just 47 runs.
Scorecard

By the time Indian team arrived in England in the second half of the 1979 summer, it had acquired a reputation of scoring big in the fourth innings. The 4th test at Oval test bears testimony to that. English bowling was led by Willis, Botham and Hendrick. As Indians began chasing 438 runs, they met with an unexpected stroke of luck. Hendrick was injured and England had to rely on Willis and Botham for pace. Gavaskar, in company of Chetan Chauhan, put on 212 runs for the opening wicket, erasing a 43 year old record set by Vijay Merchant and Mushtaq Ali at Manchester Oval. Gavaskar looked in ominous form as he scored a glorious 221, which Len Hutton described as one of the very best innings played in England. Only an error of judgement on the part of Indian skipper S Venkatraghavan, who promoted Kapil Dev ahead of Vishwanath in hope of getting some quick runs, prevented what could have been yet another famous victory. India eventually settled for a draw at 429/8, just 9 runs short of the huge English total.
Scorecard

Team India sets out on yet another mammoth run chase tomorrow at MCG. For a team that has managed only 196 runs in its first essay, it would come as no surprise if it fails in the second one too. But tomorrow will also present a huge opportunity for India's lead batsmen to play an immortal innings and carve out a special place in history. An innings that would put to shade even VVS Laxman's epic 281 at Eden Gardens. That alone should be good enough for motivation, if there is any required.

All the very best India.

12 comments:

Golandaaz said...

It is important that India take some positives out of this test to Sydney. They showed that they can indeed take close to 20 Australian wickets and now the batters need to show they can bat out 4+ sessions and score at 3 - 3.5 runs an over. Yes, it is not enough to win this test But they can build on this performance

Thanks for reviving the memories of chases past

Cricket Guru said...

True.

It would also give insight into players' thinking, coming after the first innings debacle. Will Dravid continue to block or will he be more positive? Will Sachin maintain his new found aggression?

More importantly, how will Jaffer and Yuvraj handle the pressure, as one of them would presumably be faxcing the axe, should India fare badly.

scorpicity said...

realisation is a hangover. India may know overnight what bit them.

Soulberry said...

Refreshing memories those! Seasons bright in youth's sunlight...how winter mocks today!

Thanks CG.

Cricket Guru said...

Pleasure, SB, as always. :)

Straight Point said...

a very happy new year to you and your dear ones...and keep blogging...

Cricket Guru said...

Thanks, SP and greetings to you too.

Pay per head said...

I totally agree with you dear blogger and with the comment by Golandaaz, I think it is crucial that India sees the positive part of the test to Sydney

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