Hyderabad: The historic 1981 Melbourne Test win is still fresh in memory. India tasted victory against the mighty Australians Down Under particularly after the Sunil Gavaskar episode. For Hyderabad’s N Shivlal Yadav, it was one of the most memorable wins. He may not have played a big role as a bowler but it was all about a gutsy batting display when he had to take pain-killer injections after a fiery Len Pascoe yorker had fractured his toe. He stitched an important stand with centurion Gundappa Viswanath before Kapil Dev scripted a fairy-tale victory with a wonderful spell that ambushed the Aussies.
“It was very challenging for me as I had to take pain-killers. An Indian doctor was called in and he gave two injections every session. Gundappa Viswanath was nearing his 100. When I went in, he was batting on 60 odd. I stood there and he completed his innings. He simply told me to hang in there. It was a joy to watch the way he batted. I’m fortunate to see Gavaskar and Vishy batting from the non-striker’s end. But I would love to pay and watch Vishy any day. He was an artist with the bat and enjoyed playing the square cuts and flicks,” said the 64-year-old.
Even with a fractured toe, Shivlal bowled 31 overs and took the wickets of Kim Hughes and Allan Border. “Kapil was in the pavilion with a thigh injury, Dilip Doshi also fractured his ankle but he bowled 51 overs. Karsan and I bowled for long spells. However, I could not bat or bowl in the second innings. It was one of the dream come true wins. The Aussies were furious. They hate to lose. With that win we drew the series after we lost the first Test in Sydney badly and just managed to draw in Adelaide in second. Karsan Ghavri and I frustrated the Aussies in the mandatory overs and we drew the match. I was not out on zero and it was regarded as one of the most valuable knocks of my career,” he said.
Shivlal said his first tour was very challenging because the Australian team was a formidable one. “They were invincible, particularly in their own backyard. With batsmen like Greg Chappell, Kim Hughes, Allan Border, Doug Walters, they had a powerful batting line up and equally fast bowling side with the likes of Dennis Lillee and Pascoe.”
The off-spinner said he always enjoyed bowling in Australia. “You need to flight the ball to get the bounce and obviously you have to turn also. My bowling was more of Nathan Lyon style. In that particular 1980-81 tour I enjoyed the dismissal of Kim Hughes. He came down the wicket and I pulled back that delivery. He was deceived by the flight and hit uppishly towards mid-on where late Chetan Chauhan took a brilliant catch.” He added that Aussies are aggressive batsmen. “They like to play the strokes.”
The second time when he went in 1985-86, Shival was an experienced spinner. “We should have won that series 2-0 in Melbourne and Adelaide. Rain helped the Aussies to draw the series when actually we dominated both with the bat and the ball. I was in a good rhythm. I was a matured spinner by then. I learnt the variations. As an off spinner I was lucky as Australia had plenty of left-handers. I loved bowling to left-handers. I have taken Border’s wicket 19 times.”
Shivlal said Australians always sledged. “There was no match-referee those days. It was free-for all for them. The umpiring decisions were quite often controversial and there were no leg before decisions those days in Australia. That advantage they had till the ICC introduced match-referees and neutral umpires. That is how the Indian team is able to compete with them now.”
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