Clearly, India had their task cut out. Victory was obviously out of the question; survival was their first quest. And at 65 for three shortly after lunch on the third day, even this seemed unlikely. Srikkanth, much to the joy of his home crowd, hammed a quickfire 53 but Sunil Gavaskar, who became the first cricketer to make 100 consecutive Test appearances, was out for eight and Mohinder Amarnath followed for one.
The fightback started in real earnest with Md Azharuddin (50), Ravi Shastri (62) and Chandrakant Pandit (35) piecing together valuable runs. The batting was forthright but not spectacular. But when fighting with one's back to the wall, can one expect a thrilling counter attack? Yes, if a certain Kapil Dev Nikhanj is involved in the thick of action. India were 206 for five late on the third evening when the Indian captain walked in.
Australia quite naturally were nurturing hopes of enforcing the follow on. But now they came up against Kapil who on the fourth morning unleashed a fusillade of strokes 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 breathtaking 119 inclusive of 21 fours before being last out at 397.
The follow on was saved but with a lead of 177 and with some 3-1/2 hours left Australia were still in a position to call the shots. But the fare through the fourth afternoon and evening was plebian. It seemed that Australia in the aftermath of Kapil's onslaught had decided that the match was now doomed to a draw and they played out the rest of the day as if in a trance. A score of 170 for five declared off 49 overs clearly meant that the Australians had given up on any victory hopes and were prepared to let the match meander to a draw.
Image: Kapil Dev holds a mortar gun as he takes part in an introductory military training course in New Delhi on February 20, 2009 after being given the rank of honorary Lieutenant Colonel for joining the Territorial Army voluntarily.