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Vol. XXIX No. 20 , February 1-15, 2020

Establishing a World-Record in Madras

by Partab Ramchand

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January 12, 1964 dawned bright and clear. It was clearly a lovely day for cricket and the huge Sunday holiday crowd assembled at the Corporation stadium in Madras, eagerly looking forward to an action-packed third day’s play in the first Test between India and England. They had watched two eventful days, with India having declared at 457 for seven and England replying with 63 for two at stumps the day before. The third day promised to be engrossing with the expected duel between Ken Barrington, Jim Parks and Micky Stewart and the Indian spinners led by Salim Durrani and Chandu Borde.

But the packed crowd saw one of the dullest days of Test cricket as England dawdled along to finish the day at 235 for four. The most boring part came during the fourth wicket partnership between Barrington and Brian Bolus, the opening batsman who resumed his innings. The two added 119 runs in nearly five hours – a sure cure for insomnia for the spectators.

There was a reason behind England’s dawdling. Parks and Stewart had taken ill and were not in a position to bat. If they could be kept away from the crease that day, there was ample time for them to recover as the following day was the rest day.

So Bolus and Barrington just blocked and blocked, eking out only 27 runs in the two-hour period between lunch and tea. Gathering runs was of the least interest to the duo as their goal was to eat into the time. But amidst all this, the bored spectators did witness a world record.

The Indian left-arm spinner Bapu Nadkarni was well known for his accuracy, but on this day he was so parsimonious that he set a world record. Taking runs off him was like squeezing the proverbial water out of a stone. Over after over, he kept wheeling them down on the same good length spot and the two batsmen just played the ball dead at their feet. Ultimately, he sent down 21 successive maiden overs which has remained a world record – this included a long spell of 131 balls without conceding a run. By the time England were all out for 317 on the fourth morning, Nadkarni had the mind-boggling and eye-rubbing figures of 32-27-5-0. In the second innings, as England made a brave bid to reach a target of 293 runs in 265 minutes, Nadkarni curbed their charge with two quick wickets, finishing with the figures of 6-4-6-2 as the Test meandered to a draw.

Just nine months later at the same venue, Nadkarni enjoyed the best match of his 41-Test career, picking up five for 31 and six for 91 against Australia. Indeed, Nadkarni reserved some of his best batting feats too for the Madras crowd. Against England in January 1962, he and Farokh Engineer figured in an eighth wicket stand of 101, which was India’s first century partnership for this wicket, Nadkarni’s share being 63. Three years later, the same pair broke that record by sharing an eighth wicket partnership of 143 runs against New Zealand, Nadkarni scoring 75.

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