India and Australia locked horns in a gripping 5- test series in 1977-78 and two narrow defeats at Brisbane and Perth had India already 0-2 down against an inexperienced Australian team minus their Packer series players and the 1st 10 minutes of 3rd test at Melbourne had India reeling at 0/2 as Thomson and Clark dislodged the Indian openers. However solid batting by Mohinder Amarnath (72) and Viswanath (59) supported by decent contributions down the order took India to a moderate score of 256.
The Aussies now required a solid batting performance to play India out of the series with just 2 more tests after this and they looked well on course at 122/2 but soon Chandrasekhar was brought in to bowl another spell and the greatest Indian matchwinner of the 1970s suddenly started to bowl like a man poccessed , spinning the ball at pace and using the bounce of MCG pitch to great effect , 1st getting a well set Gary Cosier (67) and then Aussie skipper and last test centurion, Bobby Simpson (2) cheaply to send the cat amongst the pegions. The googlies started to pitch perfectly as Chandra mesmerised the lower order to skittle out the Aussies for 213, himself taking 6/52 , and India taking an unexpected 43 run lead.
In the Indian 2nd innings , Gavaskar blunted the new ball attack led by Thomson to score another patient 118, his 3rd ton of the series. With useful contributions from Viswanath (54) , Amarnath (41) and Ashok Mankad (38) India managed 343 in their 2nd innings to set Aussies an imposing target of 387.
Now with enough time left to force a result , India looked favourites to reduce the series margin and sure enough, the psychological effect that Chandra had in the first innings ,proved to be detrimental to the inexperienced Australian batting lineup as nobody could find any answers to Chandra’s googlies and flippers . With no batsmen putting up any fight, Australia surrendered meekly to be 164 allout to lose by 222 runs. Another 6/52 by Chandra, who got 12/104 in the match to grab the Man of the Match award. It was leg spin bowling at it’s best.
Chandra continued his golden run to get match figures of 6/115 at Sydney to fashion another crushing innings win for India to square the series 2-2. Though India finally went on to lose the last test after a valiant run chase of 493 target , it was through Chandrasekhar’s heroics that India managed a rousing comeback in the series with that brilliant win at Melbourne test.
On his 75th birthday , here’s wishing the great leg spinner a great year ahead and strong health.
Watch brief footage of his 1st innings wickets at Sydney mesmerising the Aussies by clicking on below link :–