I witnessed my first test at the Feroz Shah Kotla Ground in Delhi, This Test was known for the sardonic comment of Bill Lawry, who, on the eve of the Test told Pataudi that after finishing the Test on 4th day, he would like to go for fishing at Okhla. Australia won the toss, and scored 296 with a century by Ian Chappell (138) and half century by Stackpole. Our spinners, Bedi and Prasanna took 4 wickets each. Though Ashok Mankad scored 97, we were bowled out for 223, Ashley Mallet accounting for 6/64. The Day 3 was etched in the history of cricket, as 17 wickets fell on that day. Six wickets of our first innings, 10 of Australia and our opener Engineer in the second innings. The main wreckers were B. S. Bedi and Prasanna, who took 5 wickets each. The fourth day was the happiest day for us as our team scored the required 181 runs for the loss of just 3 wickets. Apart from the win, the Best moment for me was when our Captain Pataudi telling Bill Lawry that we have finished the match in 4 days and that he could now jolly well go for fishing tomorrow to Okhla!
The 5-match series was tied at 1-1, the next venue was Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Since the pitch assisted pace bowlers, Australia after winning the toss promptly elected to ball. As expected, Garth McKenzie bowled our team for 212 with the help of fighting half centuries by G. Viswanath (54) and Eknath Solkar (42), who was the backbone of our fielding then. Australia responded with a total of 335 with contributions from Ian Chappell (99), Walters (56). Bedi accounted for 7 wickets. Our second innings was far more pathetic than the first one and we were bundled out for just 161. The required 42 runs were easily scored by their openers to win the test by 10 wickets to lead the series 2-1.
The final and fifth Test was played at Chepauk, Chennai, where our great Lala Amarnath’s son, Mohinder Amarnath made his debut. After winning the toss Aussies scored 258 in their first innings with the help of a century by KD Walters. Prasanna and Venkatraghavan accounted for 4 wickets each. Once again we could not put up a decent score and were bowled out for 163, Ashley Mallet accounting for 5/91. Then came the unthinkable twist to the match. Mohinder Amarnath and Prasanna almost won the Test by taking the top six wickets for just 24 runs. Unfortunately, the dropped catch of Ian Redpath by our wicket keeper Engineer of Prasanna, early in his innings, cost us the Test and series. He scored valuable half century and along with the tail, accumulated another 100 runs to the total to set a target of 245 for us to win. Unfortunately, despite half centuries by Gudappa Viswanath and Mankad, rest folded like a pack of cards to lose the series 3-1. Ashley Mallet was the hero of OZ who accounted for another 5 in the second innings to take a ten-wicket haul in the Test.
Thanks to the commentators of AIR, who enlightened cricket lovers with their valuable and meaningful comments and statistics, which gave us almost a near visual update of what is happening on the field of play.
Even though we lost the series 3-1, we were fortunate to unearth two gem of batsmen in Gundappa Viswanath & Mohinder Amarnath, who helped our country to win many tests during their career.