Former India fast bowler Karsan Ghavri, now in his 70th year, recalls the pitch and tells IANS, “Many times you work hard, you don’t win. But sometimes the wicket helps, plays tricks and results fall your way.”
While Kapil Dev was the hero, Ghavri got the prized wicket of Greg Chappell, who ranks alongside Ricky Ponting as the greatest batsman Australia has produced since Donald Bradman.
“We were all out after tea and had set a target of 143 for them to win. As soon as we entered the field, Sunil Gavaskar, the India captain instructed the bowlers to stick to accuracy. He said accuracy was the key on a wicket that was so bad, with such big cracks that you didn’t know where the ball would go after bouncing.”
Ghavri got rid of John Dyson but the next man in was Chappell. “Before Greg came in, Gavaskar asked me to bowl a bouncer the first ball so I tried to dig it in. But somehow the ball must have pitched on one of those cracks and never rose. He was preparing for a short-pitched delivery but that particular delivery never came up, keeping very low. His leg-stump was exposed and the ball took the leg-stump and he was out the first ball,” recalls Ghavri.
Aussies ended Day Four at 24 for three. From thereon, Kapil Dev, who had not taken the field on the fourth day due to injury, took over and ran through the Aussies on the fifth day after taking pain-killing injections. The all-rounder picked five for 28. Ghavri did not bowl a single over on the final day as Kapil and Dilip Doshi bowled out the hosts for 83.
Ghavri calls Chappell, who later coached the Indian team, as someone who would never get bogged down.
“He was a very aggressive player, not afraid to play his shots. He used to accelerate, get more runs and was not scared to play his shots. He accelerated so quickly, getting bogged down was not in his book, every ball was a single, every loose delivery was a boundary. Initially, he would try to dominate the attack, be the king on the pitch,” he added.
“But he was shaky with short deliveries at the start. Once he settled down, he was a compulsive hooker. If he settled down, he would go for a hook shot. And invariably, he’ll hit you for a four or a six. But he has also got out many times on that,” explained Ghavri.
That is why the Indians thought of attacking him with a short-pitched delivery first up.
“Any batsman in the world, be it Gavaskar, Geoffery Boycott, Viv Richards or Brian Lara, he will be shaky initially, for the first two-three runs, as they all want to get off the mark. No one wants to get out on zero and that is the best time to attack them.”
The idea was right and it paid off even though it came with some help from the surface.