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Vol. XXXI No. 18, January 1-15, 2022

When India won a test series against England for the first time

by Partab Ramchand

Sixty years have passed but for me the image is as sharp as if it happened yesterday. Tony Lock swings Chandu Borde high towards square leg and Bapu Nadkarni from mid wicket runs a few yards to complete the catch. Victory has been sealed and India have won their first Test series against England. It is January 15 1962 and the venue of the historic triumph is the old Corporation (later Nehru) stadium in Madras.

It was the final Test of the five-match series and when the contest began some two months earlier it was reckoned that India had an even chance of winning it despite the fact that the home team’s overall record against their first opponents in Test cricket was abysmal. But that was largely because India had fared poorly in matches in England. In India, they had held their own. In 1933-34 India the minnows of international cricket had lost the three-match series 2-0 while 18 years later they drew the five-Test contest 1-1. That was a depleted England side however with most of the big guns reluctant to tour India. Ten years later it was much the same story with an under strength England side coming over. Missing were names like Peter May, Colin Cowdrey, Brian Statham and Fred Trueman but with Ted Dexter (captain), Ken Barrington, Peter Richardson, Geoff Pullar, Mike Smith, Tony Lock and David Allen around it wasn’t a bad side.

Salim Durrani (top) and Chandu Borde (below). Pictures courtesy: The Hindu.

The first three Tests played on true batting surfaces were all drawn but in the fourth Test at Calcutta on a pitch that aided spin India won by 187 runs and so made sure they would not lose the series. The wicket at Madras was also expected to help spinners so could India with Salim Durrani and Chandu Borde among the wickets make the most of the surface and bowl India to an emphatic 2-0 win in the series or could Lock and Allen turn things around for England and help the visitors to square the series?

With the contest still open there was considerable interest in the match and not unexpectedly huge crowds were in attendance during the five days of the Test. Like he had done in Calcutta Nari Contracttor won an important toss and batting first India went on to score 428. The skipper himself came good ending a long unproductive run with a splendid 86 but the man to catch the eye was the young Nawab of Pataudi playing in only his third Test. With some dazzling strokeplay he raced to 103 in just over 2-1/2 hours. The rest of the batsmen inspired by the brilliance of the 21-year-old prince all made bright, valuable contributions and at stumps on the first day India were 296 for seven. It was an unheard off total on a single day in Indian cricket in those times.

The tempo was maintained on the second day by another player who made his debut in the series. Farokh Engineer first gave indications of his buccaneering approach by taking 16 runs in the first over bowled by Barry Knight. He dominated a record eighth wicket partnership of 101 with Nadkarni getting 65. Nadkarni contributed 63 and Indian cricket fans were pleased with 428 runs on the board confident that it was unlikely India would lose after posting such a huge total.

The Indians spinners led by Durrani then got to work and England lost wickets at regular intervals. In fact at 226 for nine they were in danger of following on but a last wicket partnership of 55 between David Smith and Geoff Millman averted that. Durrani bowled his left arm spinners accurately and incisively to finish with six for 105. On a pitch that was now turning square a lead of 147 runs was a major advantage but the Indian batsmen found survival difficult against Allen and Lock particularly the latter. However the one glorious exception was Vijay Manjrekar. The highest run getter for India in the series and their best batsman on such a viciously turning surface Manjrekar came up with an innings that was the epitome of batting technique. He scored 85 while no other batsmen got even 20. He was the only one to negotiate the wiles of Lock who finished with six for 65.

India were restricted to 190 but on a difficult pitch for batting it was going to be an uphill task for England to get 338 for victory. The match was practically decided on the fourth day when England were 90 for five. Peter Parfitt and Knight added 65 runs for the sixth wicket to prolong the match to a fifth day but there was no stopping the inevitable. Durrani (four for 72) and Borde (three for 59) completed the formalities and just after lunch India were celebrating a 128-run victory and a historic triumph had been accomplished.

Comments

  1. Ravinarayanan K R says:

    It was an excellent victory for India and that too a Series against England when the INDIAN spinners called the tunes and the rear guard action of Vijay Manjrekar to carve out a facile win. And all this happened at the Corporation stadium, Chennai, a stop-gap arrangement ground which also saw the world record opening wicket partnership by Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy (413 runs).

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