In 1926/27, Arthur Gilligan led a very strong English side to India. Their match against the Hindus at Bombay Gymkhana was among the most significant in Indian cricket. CK Nayudu slammed 153 in 100 minutes. He hit 11 sixes, at that point a world record. The match was broadcast on radio, and as the news spread, hundreds crammed the ground to watch him bat. When he got out, spectators, teammates, the opposition, even the umpires applauded him.
More than anything, Nayudu’s innings convinced Gilligan that India had cricketing talent. During the tour, he met the Maharaja of Patiala, Grant Govan, and Anthony de Mello at the Roshanara Club in Delhi. He promised to talk to MCC about a tour. BCCI was formed in 1928. India played their first Test match in 1932.
In the 1926/27 series, debutant Lala Amarnath became the first Indian to score a Test hundred. The Indians were allowed inside the club as a one-off case. Government offices were closed. A new stand was erected. An estimated fifty thousand watched the match. Amarnath scored his hundred in under two hours. Two spectators ran on to the ground to garland him. They had to call the police to keep fans away from Amarnath. A band played God save the King, the British anthem. The women in the enclosure showered their jewellery at him. The Maharajahs of Kolhapur and Baroda announced cash rewards.
Nought for four
India had their difficulties against Fred Trueman and Alec Bedser on the 1952 tour. In the second innings of the Headingley Test match, they lost Pankaj Roy, Datta Gaekwad, Madhav Mantri, and Vijay Manjrekar before putting a run on the board. When the Yorkshire Post received the score, they called the ground to confirm whether the score was actually 4 without loss!
England whitewashed India 5-0 in 1959 tour. With Manjrekar injured, the desperate Indians needed a replacement ahead of the fourth Test, at Old Trafford. They found out that Abbas Ali Baig was studying in Oxford University at that point. India needed 548 to win the match, but debutant Baig scored 112 in the fourth innings to help India reach 376.
Several photographs of India’s win at The Oval in 1971 have stood the test of time, but this is probably the most iconic. Alan Knott played Bhagwat Chandrasekhar towards fine leg. He had chosen his shot well, and he did not play in the air either, but Eknath Solkar flung himself full stretch both sideways and towards the front and came up with a once-in-a-lifetime catch.
Greig cradling Viswanath
Gundappa Vishwanath scored a hundred at Brabourne Stadium in 1972/73. The ever-popular Tony Greig, all of six feet five inches, cradled Viswanath like a baby and sang a lullaby. Greig scored a hundred later in the match, and almost immediately five-foot-five Sunil Gavaskar and five-foot-four Viswanath attempted a payback. They failed.
Edmonds reading newspaper
At Eden Gardens in 1984/85, Gavaskar did not declare the first innings of the Test match until the second session of the fourth day, drawing much criticism. During the innings, a newspaper from the crowd came towards Phil Edmonds, who picked it up and started reading.
Lord’s, 1990. Graham Gooch edged an outswinger from Sanjeev Sharma, but wicket keeper Kiran More grassed the easy catch. Taking advantage, Gooch went on to score 333, then added 123 in the second innings (456 is still the Test match record). Gooch scored 752 in the three-Test series and never looked back. He finished as England’s leading run-scorer.
In the same series, India were reduced to 183/6 in the fourth innings of the next Test match, at Old Trafford. They needed to bat two and a half hours when Manoj Prabhakar joined Sachin Tendulkar. The pair batted through the period, saving the Test match, Tendulkar remaining unbeaten on 119 and Prabhakar on 64. Tendulkar would score another fifty Test hundreds.
At The Oval in 2007, all eleven Indians reached double figures in a score of 664, but India’s only hundred – of the innings as well as the entire series – came from their No. 8 batsman. Anil Kumble brought up his only Test hundred with a bottom-edged four off Kevin Pietersen. It remains one of the most affectionately celebrated hundreds among Indian fans.
Jadeja drops Cook
India were 1-0 up after two Tests in the 2014 series. That, combined the Ashes humiliation and the defeat against Sri Lanka at home, had put Alastair Cook’s position as captain under threat. His form was not great either. In the third Test, at Rose Bowl, Cook edged debutant Pankaj Singh to third slip. Ravindra Jadeja, one of the best fielders in Indian history, grassed the chance. Cook scored 95, and England got 569/7 and came back to win the series 3-1. Poor Pankaj Singh went wicketless and played only one more Test match.