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India - England Past encounters, Golden moments for India

When Vinoo Mankad wove patterns around the English batsmen
Partab Ramchand - 26 November 2001


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.
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 field.

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 57-22-91-4.

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.

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