Handscomb’s gritty innings reminiscent of Deano’s tied Test heroics

Kersi Meher-Homji Columnist

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    Watching Peter Handscomb’s heroic innings in the Chittagong Test against Bangladesh on Tuesday reminded me of Dean Jones’ never-say-die double century in the Chennai tied Test in September 1986.

    When Steve Smith fell for 58 on the second day of the must-win Chittagong Test, Australia were 2-98, still 207 runs behind Bangladesh’s 305. Another wicket and there was a possibility of another collapse.

    But Handscomb (69 off 113 balls) prevailed for more than two hours in intense heat to add 127 runs with David Warner (88 off 170 balls) at stumps on day two.

    Handscomb was drenched in perspiration and fighting dehydration but battled on regardless. Icepacks were applied overnight as he lost quite a few kilos in the Chittagong humidified incubator.

    Yesterday he went on to score 82 in 185 minutes off 144 balls before he was run out.

    By adding 152 runs with centurion Warner for the third wicket, Handscomb was behind Australia gaining a first-innings lead.

    Australian batsman Peter Handscomb

    (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    Exactly 31 years ago I had witnessed another heroic innings in the Chennai Test against India. It was by Dean Jones, popularly known as Deano.

    The Test famously ended in a tie, only the second tied Test in the history of the game after the Brisbane thriller between Australia and the West Indies in December 1960.

    The Chennai thriller will be remembered as Dean Jones’ magnum opus. In intense heat, he hit 210 runs but looked a spent force after reaching his ton.

    He was dehydrated and had lost control of his bodily functions but captain Allan Border urged him to continue.

    Deano batted for eight and a half hours, faced 330 balls and hit two sixes and 27 fours. Totally exhausted after his marathon innings in intense humidity, he needed saline-drip in a hospital.

    It was the first Test of the series. Border won the toss and declared at 7-574. Deano added 158 runs for the second wicket with David Boon (122) and 178 for the fourth wicket with Border (106).

    Skipper Kapil Dev hit a gallant ton and India replied with 397. Greg Matthews, surprisingly wearing a jumper throughout in the unbearable heat, took 5-103.

    Border again declared at 5-170, setting India 348 to win.

    Opener ‘Sunny’ Gavaskar, playing his 100th consecutive Test, batted superbly to score 90 and India was close to a surprise win at 6-331. Only 17 runs needed.

    But spinners Ray Bright and the erratic genius ‘Mo’ Matthews bowled magnificently capturing five wickets each and India’s last bat Maninder Singh was declared out lbw to Matthews and the match ended in a tie.

    Many still feel it was a wrong decision. But there was no DRS then.

    Will the Chittagong Test end in a tie as well?

    Kersi Meher-Homji
    Kersi Meher-Homji

    Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.

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