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Nostalgia

Individuals liven up a dull series
Partab Ramchand - 29 November 2001

The 1963-64 series against England was probably the most boring in the history of Indian cricket. Not only were all five Tests drawn, but there was never even any likelihood of a result. The matches were played on lifeless pitches, and the bowling consequently never rose above mediocrity. The batsmen had a field day in favourable conditions, and the aim seemed to be "just to rake in money from unsuspecting crowds," as Dicky Rutnagur wrote in the Indian Cricket Field Annual. "I felt a sigh of relief at the end that one of the most wretched series of Test matches was finally over."


A major factor that prevented India from repeating its previous home series triumph was the inability of all-rounders Chandu Borde and Salim Durrani to strike their wonted form with bat and ball. Each had only one innings of note, when they shared a record seventh-wicket partnership of 153 to rescue India in the second Test at Bombay, with Durrani making 90 and Borde 84.
In getting the Marylebone Cricket Club to send an official team within just two years of the 1961-62 series, the Board of Control for Cricket in India achieved an ultimate in the field of diplomacy but at a price. The high-guarantee money paid out meant that the pitches had to be made to last the full five days to attract maximum crowds, and this ruled out an equal contest between bat and ball. Every Test match had the word "Draw" written all over it even as it started.

That said, it must also be added that there was some good cricket along the way. Predictably enough, the batsmen made runs aplenty and made them handsomely. From the Indian side, knocks of high entertainment value came from Budhi Kunderan, Dilip Sardesai and ML Jaisimha. The wicket- keeper's blistering 192 in the first Test at Madras was, in fact, one of the high points of the series. Adding a touch of drama to that big score was the fact that Kunderan was not in the original playing list and only made it on the morning of the match because Farokh Engineer was injured.

Kunderan got another hundred in the fourth Test at New Delhi and finished the rubber with 525 runs the highest aggregate by any wicket- keeper till Dennis Lindsay got 606 runs for South Africa against Australia three years later. Sardesai was a picture of consistency, getting 449 runs with five scores over the half-century mark. Jaisimha aggregated 444 runs with a hundred and three fifties.

The inability of MAK Pataudi to touch form was one of the disappointments of the series. The Indian captain did make an unbeaten 203 at New Delhi the first double century by an Indian against England but otherwise found runs hard to come by. Vijay Manjrekar scored 108 in the first Test, but thereafter, he also found it difficult to score. Hanumant Singh, however, made a blazing start to his Test career with a century on debut at New Delhi.

A major factor that prevented India from repeating its previous home series triumph was the inability of all-rounders Chandu Borde and Salim Durrani to strike their wonted form with bat and ball. Each had only one innings of note, when they shared a record seventh-wicket partnership of 153 to rescue India in the second Test at Bombay, with Durrani making 90 and Borde 84. But in the bowling department, both were well below the form that they displayed in 1961-62. Durrani took only 11 wickets and Borde nine, both at enormous cost.

However, 18-year-old leg-spinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar created a fine impression, taking 10 wickets in four Tests. Some praise is due to Bapu Nadkarni as well. In the first Test, he set up a world record of 21 consecutive maiden overs, sending down 121 balls without conceding a run. His final innings figures were an unbelievable 32-27-5-0. The Englishmen found it next to impossible to score in the face of his nagging accuracy, but it was with the bat that Nadkarni played the really vital role. More than once, he came up with crucial contributions late in the order and saved the final Test at Kanpur with his obdurate batting. In the first innings, coming in at number nine, he scored an unbeaten 52. Promoted to number three when India followed on, Nadkarni batted over seven hours in scoring 122 not out. This double batting success came after he had bowled 57 overs! Nadkarni ended the series with 294 runs at an average of 98.00.

This was Pataudi's first full series as captain, and he impressed as a bold, imaginative leader. He was prepared to take reasonable risks, as when he set England a target of 317 runs in 360 minutes at Bombay. He also displayed his enterprising approach by putting England in to bat at Kanpur after winning the toss for the fifth successive time, fully confident that they did not have the bowling to dismiss India twice. Again, England were not at full strength, with players like Ted Dexter, Colin Cowdrey, Brian Close, Fred Trueman, and Tony Lock not making the initial trip.

But they proved to be a doughty side, and in Fred Titmus, they boasted the Man of the Series. The all-rounder not only chipped in with valuable knocks but also took 27 wickets which, given the circumstances, was a commendable feat. The pace bowling was again weak, though John Price did show some promise. England were handicapped by Ken Barrington dropping out of the series after the first Test due to an injury sustained in a tour game against West Zone.

They were also hit by several players suffering various stomach disorders and were even forced to play the Bombay Test with only 10 players, with Micky Stewart being indisposed shortly after play began. Barrington and Stewart took no further part in the tour, and Cowdrey and Peter Parfitt were flown in as replacements. Cowdrey, out of action since having his arm broken by Wesley Hall in the Lord's Test against the West Indies in 1963, played himself into form and scored hundreds in successive Test matches. Parfitt also hit 121 in the final Test, sharing a 191-run fourth-wicket partnership with Barry Knight (127). In rather adverse circumstances, Mike Smith proved himself to be an exemplary leader of his men.

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[Archive]


Teams England, India.
Players/Umpires Motganhalli Jaisimha, Dilip Sardesai, Budhi Kunderan, Nawab of Pataudi, Vijay Manjrekar, Hanumant Singh, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Bapu Nadkarni, Ken Barrington, Peter Parfitt.

 
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