The India-Australia Melbourne Test, 1981 is considered as one of the most dramatic and glorious Test matches in the history of Test cricket. The match saw some heroic performance on behalf of the Indians, especially the then Indian skipper, Kapil Dev. The Indian team played brilliantly in the match and clinched a historic victory of 59 runs in the match, thanks to a great spell from Kapil Dev. It was the 3rd match in the 3-match Test series between the two teams and India played the match, after losing the first Test and drawing the second one. India was trailing by 1-0 in the series and it needed a victory in this match to keep the series drawn, something what India eventually did.
The Australian captain, Greg Chappell won the toss and invited the Indians to bat first in the match. The intension of Chappell was to let the bowlers make good use of the early moisture and freshness of the Melbourne pitch and also to demolish the Indian top order, as soon as possible. Chappell`s plans were looking to be working nicely in the match, as India lost their wickets in regular intervals in the first innings. India lost its first wicket without scoring a run and the team was soon reduced to 43-3, with Chetan Chauhan, Dilip Vegsarkar and Sunil Gavaskar back into the pavilion. India soon lost another 3 wickets before the team`s total reach 115 runs. Then, the legendary batsman Gundappa Viswanath and Syed Kirmani made a small partnership of 49 runs and tried to get the team out of danger. NS Yadav played well in the lower order of the Indian innings and made a good partnership of 37 runs for the last wicket. Viswanath was the only Indian batsman, who showed good resistance in front of the Australian bowling and he eventually scored a century of 114 runs in the innings. However, their effort were not enough for the team and India eventually got all out for only 237 runs in its first innings.
In reply to such a mere total of 237 runs made by the Indians in the first innings, the Australia team managed to score a good total in their first innings. However, they lost their first 2 wickets within the score of only 32 runs. The famous Aussie batsmen like Greg Chappell, Alan Border and KD Walters played well to help their team get out of the early danger and also to get a good total in the first innings. Chappell played a good innings of 76 runs and made a huge partnership of 108 runs with Border. After he got out, Border became the spearhead for Australia in the innings and he made another wonderful partnership of 131 runs, along with KD Walters. As the other Australia batsmen also got significant scores in the match, Australia eventually scored a good total of 419 runs in its first innings.
India was having a huge deficit of 234 runs in the first innings to Australia and the team got a wonderful start from the openers to get a huge total in the second innings. The two openers, Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan made a huge opening partnership of 165 runs and provided a good start to their team. They also put on huge pressure on the Australian bowlers and as a result, the other Indian batsmen got the required time and confidence to play well on the Melbourne pitch. Gavaskar and Chauhan scored 70 and 85 runs, respectively in the match and as Vegsarkar, Viswanath and Patil also played well, India eventually scored 324 runs in the second innings. India set a small target of only 143 runs to win in front of the Australia team.
The target of 143 runs was never a tough one, considering the strength and weight of the Australian batting line-up. The Australia team was also quite confident in winning the match with a good margin. However, the Indian bowlers, especially Kapil Dev though a bit different and they started to bowl with perfect line and length right from the beginning of Australia`s second innings. Kapil Dev was struggling from a leg injury and in spite of that, he showed a heroic performance in the match. The steadiness and brilliance of the Indian bowlers helped the team to pick up the Australian wickets in regular intervals. Australia lost their first 2 wickets within the score of only 11 runs and the team was reduced to a score of 61-7, at a point in the match. Kapil Dev bowled with utter determination and excellence in the match and he bowled continuously for 16 overs, in spite of suffering from a leg injury. His bowling figure in the second innings was 5-28 and it won`t be an exaggeration to say that Kapil alone defeated Australia in the match. However, Dilip Doshi also gave him wonderful support with a bowling figure of 22-9-33-2. His excellent bowling performance forced the Australian team to get all out for a tiny score of only 83 runs, the lowest total lowest score ever for Australia against India. India eventually won the match with a good margin of 59 runs and leveled the 3-match Test series, 1-1.