India go full circle in Melbourne: from forfeit to victory, 1981
We had lost the first Test, drawn the second, and this was a crucial match. Somehow or the other we wanted to do well and leave good memories behind in Australia because we were losing one-day games also. In the first innings, [Sunil] Gavaskar and myself got out early, and going into the second innings, we were 162  runs behind. But both of us wiped out the lead on the fourth day.
The Australians take their cricket very seriously and they are absolutely merciless. They were [sledging us a lot]. I had this habit of leaving the ball and saying to myself: "Leave it, leave it." So, they would make fun of me: "Oh, you left it, you left it. The next one will be on the stumps."
I played all the shots, but because they bowled short [I played] the square cut [a lot]. Australia never bowled up at you, and they had genuine fast bowlers -- they had Len Pascoe, Rodney Hogg and Dennis Lillee. I'd say Pascoe and Hogg were quite fast.
Here, the Melbourne wicket was slightly difficult. One had to watch the ball longer, especially short balls you had to watch longer because some would get up and some would not. It was not easy to tackle, especially for players like Gavaskar and myself who didn't hook, so we had to see the ball longer because we used to either sway away or duck. We used to rotate strike: all that we decided was neither of us should play six balls off a fast bowler [in an over], allowing him to get on top of us.
Then the incident when Gavaskar was given out [off Lillee] happened. I stayed on and I did not ... because he pushed me I took a few steps. But as we were walking I slowed down and he was walking faster towards the pavilion. I was only thinking that nearly two days were remaining and we had wiped out the lead. The later batsmen -- Dilip Vengsarkar, Sandeep Patil, Gundappa Viswanath, who had got a hundred in the first innings -- were in form and there were nearly two days, so I was not very keen to walk off.
Also, I overheard the umpire who said, "If you are walking out, you are taking the risk of forfeiting the match." Considering this, I walked slowly but he went very quickly towards the dressing room and near the boundary line he didn't tell me to walk out. It was only in the heat of the moment he told me that. I saw the manager then telling me to stay on, and I saw Dilip Vengsarkar, the number three, walking down the steps. Everybody was shocked, even the Australians.
Of course, we were expecting it [to become a controversy]. The Australian press was very nasty towards us, especially towards Gavaskar because he was not scoring runs in that series. He was a very frustrated man, and that was his first half-century in sixth innings. In fact, even in the one-dayers, he didn't score many runs. It was one of the very few series where he wasn't getting runs. But in that particular innings he was really playing like Gavaskar, and I think he wanted to score a big hundred and neutralise all those who were against him.
After that incident, the umpires were on the back foot. They were under pressure and one or two decisions which could be here or there, we got in our favour. Like Allan Border was caught down the leg side, which I thought wasn't a very clear decision. At the end of the fourth day, we realised we were getting the upper hand.
Overnight they were three down for 40 . Once we got these wickets [of] Graham Wood and Greg Chappell, who was bowled by Karsan Ghavri, they were still trailing by 100-odd runs. Kapil Dev didn't come to field overnight because he had a strain in the hamstring, I think.
We discussed that it was a great opportunity, and we must fight it out and save every run. We were giving pep talks to another. We were unsure whether Kapil would come on to bowl, but he said he would take treatment and come back to bowl the next day. He came the next day and bowled like a champion, and bowled them out for 83.
It was like a retaliation: the press was really rubbing us hard. Players like Greg Chappell and Ian Chappell, who were very hard critics, were having a go at us. It made us more determined and angry; it aggravated us [so much] that we had to come back and beat them.
The Australians came over to our dressing room [to celebrate our victory]. That way Australians were good sportsmen. I was talking to Lillee and the others, who told me that they were expecting India to make a comeback because they realised we were a good side.
There were the usual champagne celebrations, but we did not get much chance to celebrate because next day we had to go to New Zealand. I would say it is one of the good innings I have played, and ultimately any innings that gets you victory is the best thing.
As told to Arun Venugopal