Australia v India
North Sydney Oval, Sydney: 26th – 29th January 1991
At the suburban ground of North Sydney Oval, under the Mollie Dive Stand, Shubhangi Kulkarni won the toss for India and sent Australia in to bat. It seemed as though winning tosses was something Australian captain Lyn Larsen was never going to achieve, however she would have also chosen to bat had she won the toss.
“My motto was pretty much to bat first if we could… if I ever won a toss that is…”
Kulkarni might have been wishing she’d used Larsen’s method, for the openers, the two Belindas – Haggett and Clark – carved themselves a century opening stand. Clark was particularly aggressive in her debut innings. She was out for a whirlwind 104 from a partnership of 178. It was a blistering innings, unlike anything ever seen before, a knock from a youngster in a hurry. It was a portent of things to come.
“Patience wasn’t my strong suit. So it was either score runs or generally I would perish. I remember on this day that I managed to keep my impatience in check and it was just a great moment to make the 3 figures.” – Belinda Clark
Perhaps Larsen, her NSW captain, could see into the future.
“I still recall my final words to Belinda before she want out to bat: ‘Do a Mark Waugh’. Mark had scored a century on debut not long before hand. Was hard not to enjoy an innings like that and to feel very comfortable watching our players in complete control.” – Larsen
Shell-shocked by the Clark onslaught, there was more pain for the Indian bowlers, despite getting Haggett for 73 when the score hadn’t budged from the Clark dismissal. Denise Annetts helped herself to a half century, while Zoe Goss fell two runs short. Larsen declared at 4/301 after 109 overs and in this team bristling with batting brilliance had herself slotted in to come in at number nine. Suffice it to say she didn’t get a hit.
Debbie Wilson removed Sudha Shah for 2 while Goss removed Kulkarni for 14, leaving India 2/28. They recovered, slowly, through a half century to Rajani Venugopal, before she was the third wicket to fall at 112. Then, through a laborious half century to the opener, Sandhya Agarwal, and stubborn resistance down the order, India compiled 217 runs from 150 overs. Agarwal’s 51 took seven and a half hours. The North Sydney wicket generally has little in it for the bowlers, and while Australia had prospered, so had India, albeit both taking a different approach.
“It was pretty flat and hard to remove their batters given they were intent on occupying the crease, not scoring runs.”
Australia batted a second time and was clearly intent on setting up a total for India to chase. Larsen declared at 6/111, leaving India to score 196, but with only 55 overs remaining, played out time, ending 6/83 and the Test a draw. Did Larsen leave the declaration too late?
“Can’t recall the timing and whether it was an unrealistic, overly cautious declaration. I do know that while they play not to lose, they did have a lot of talent, so couldn’t be underestimated.”
Australia 4 dec 301 (Clark 104, Haggett 73, Annetts 53, Goss 48) and 6 dec 111 drew with India 217 (Venugopal 53, Agarwal 51, Moffat 4-43, Wilson 3-56) and 6/83