Monday, September 22, was another bright and sunny morning. There was hardly any speculation on the result of the match that was given up as a draw and the stadium was predictably only sparsely filled before play started. Then came the sensational news that opened up any number of possibilities. We in the press box were informed that Australia had declared at the overnight total and had set India a victory target of 348 in 87 overs.
Their batting the previous day did not suggest that a declaration was on the cards. But on the morning of the final day, it transpired that Australian coach Bobby Simpson had convinced Border to declare the innings. It was a bit of a risk for on the evidence of the first innings it did not appear that Australia had the bowling to dismiss a strong Indian batting line-up in a day. If anything India had the credentials to make a successful chase. On the other hand 348 was a long way off and popular opinion was that India would make an attempt but finally fall short of the target.
With Srikkanth around, there was never any doubt about India not making an attempt at a challenging target. He blazed his way to 39 out of a first wicket partnership of 55 with Gavaskar and this put India on course. Amarnath and Gavaskar consolidated with a second wicket stand of 103 runs before the former left for 51 but with Azharuddin joining Gavaskar in mid-afternoon the question was whether India were leaving it too late.
An Australian victory by now seemed out of the question and the stadium, as I said sparsely filled at the start of the day's play, was beginning to fill up as fans sensed that India had a chance of pulling off a great victory. Well, the faithful among the fans did not see an Indian victory - they saw something better than that!
Image: Krish Srikkanth sharing a joke with Australian former captain Allan Border before a Tied Test rematch featuring all the players who played in the only the second Tied Test in cricket history at Chennai in September 1986. This match was played at Guru Nanak college grounds in Chennai on March 16, 2001.