When Vinoo Mankad wove patterns around the English batsmen
Partab Ramchand - 26 November 2001
Vinoo Mankad had been India's leading all-rounder for many years before
the start of the 1951-52 series against England. But, on the eve of the
contest, his status was being questioned. In the past couple of seasons,
Mankad had not been among the runs and wickets, and people wondered
whether, at 34, he was over the hill. But in the five Tests, Mankad
answered the critics in the only way he knew by his performance on the
But it was in the final Test at Madras that Mankad
touched greatness. He restricted England to a first-innings total of 266
with a mesmeric spell of bowling that got him eight for 55 off 38.5
overs. None of the batsmen could take any liberties with him, and the
highlight of the innings was a duel for supremacy between the quick-
footed Tom Graveney and Mankad.
In the first Test at New Delhi, Mankad sent down 109 overs to take seven
wickets for 111. Overshadowed in the first innings by Sadashiv Shinde,
who bagged six wickets with his leg spinners, Mankad came into his own
in the second innings, and his left-arm spinners tied down the English
batsmen, as illustrated by his excellent figures of 76-47-58-4. He again
bore the brunt of the bowling in the second Test at Bombay and, while
England scored 456, he ended the most successful bowler with figures of
For good measure, he also chipped in with a valuable 41, coming in at
No. 9. When he entered early on the final morning, India were in danger
of defeat. They were 88 for seven in the second innings, and their
overall lead was only 117. Mankad and CD Gopinath, by adding 71 runs for
the eighth wicket, steered India into safe waters. In the third Test at
Calcutta, Mankad sent down 97.5 overs for a match haul of six for 153.
Opening the innings with Pankaj Roy, he had partnerships of 72 and 103
(unbroken), his own contributions being 59 and 71 not out. In the fourth
Test at Kanpur, Mankad brought his tally for the series to 22 wickets
with a match haul of five for 98 off 42.2 overs.
But it was in the final Test at Madras that Mankad touched greatness. He
restricted England to a first-innings total of 266 with a mesmeric spell
of bowling that got him eight for 55 off 38.5 overs. None of the batsmen
could take any liberties with him, and the highlight of the innings was
a duel for supremacy between the quick-footed Tom Graveney and Mankad.
Trying to challenge Mankad, Graveney paid the price and was the first of
four batsmen to be stumped by Probir Sen.
Then, after India declared at 457 for nine, Mankad again got among the
wickets in the second innings. This time he shared the honours with
Ghulam Ahmed, and they took four wickets each. Fittingly, Mankad took
the last wicket to fall and ended with four for 53 off 30.5 overs. His
first-innings analysis of eight for 55 and match figures of 12 for 108
were both Indian records, and he was verily the main architect of
India's maiden triumph in Tests. Overall, he brought his tally of
wickets for the series to 34, easily an Indian record, one that stood
for 21 years. His figures for the five matches read: 370.5 overs, 141
maidens, 571 runs, 34 wickets, average 16.79. In addition, he scored 223
runs to prove that he was still the No. 1 all-rounder in the country.