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Lala Amarnath becomes India’s first-ever Test Centurion

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Last updated on 17 Dec 2023 | 06:55 AM
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Lala Amarnath becomes India’s first-ever Test Centurion

Despite a crushing defeat against England, Lala Amarnath entered the record books, scoring India's first Test century

The Indian cricket team first played an international Test in 1932 when they visited England for a one-off game at the Lord’s. Former Indian legend C.K. Nayudu had captained India’s first-ever Test match, and while the team, quite understandably, lost by 158 runs, it was over a year later that the side actually put up some competition.

England was touring India for three Tests from December 1933 to February 1934, and this time, India had the likes of Vijay Merchant and Lala Amarnath as well. England wasn’t expected to have it easy on Indian soil, but the Bombay Gymkhana didn’t have any place for Indian fans in the pre-Independent era.

This disrespect definitely affected the morale of the Indian players, which would later lead Maharaja of Patiala to establish the Cricket Club of India and Brabourne Stadium.

India would bat first and lose wickets in quick succession. After Indian openers Syed Wazir Ali and Janardan Navle stitched together a 44-run stand, captain Lala Amarnath came to the crease and scored a quintessential 38 runs. During his knock, he forged a 27-run stand with Ali, a 46-run partnership with C.K. Nayudu and a short 18-run stand with Laxmidas Jai.

Amarnath remained the highest scorer for Team India in the first innings, with India’s second-best batsman, Sorabji Colah, scoring 31 runs. India were bowled out for 219 runs in their first dig, as England’s Stan Nichols, Hedley Verity and James Langridge all took three-wicket hauls. 

Though Indian bowler Mohammad Nissar had removed England opener Arthur Mitchell early in the innings, a 55-run stand between Cyril Walters and Charlie Barnett steadied England’s ship. 

Unlike India, England’s middle-order batsmen kept pitching in, with James Langride (31 runs) and captain Douglas Jardine (60) building a solid foundation for the visitors. The cherry on the cake, however, was Bryan Valentine’s 136-run knock that took England’s score out of India’s equation as they tallied 438 runs to take a further 219-run lead.

India’s best bowler was Nissar, whose five-wicket haul gave India a fighting chance in the second innings for a draw, apart from Rustomji Jamshedji’s three-wicket haul. However, the Indian batsmen terribly failed to capitalise on the opportunity, and apart from captain Amarnath’s gritty 118-run knock, middle-order batsmen C.K. Nayudu (60), Vijay Merchant (30) and Sorabji Colah (12) were the only ones to reach double figures.

Batting on Day 3, December 17, 1933, the Indian captain took on the English bowlers with exceptional precision and hit 21 boundaries on his way to 118 runs before Nichols got his wicket. India ended their second innings on 258 runs, handing a slender target of 40 runs in the last few overs.

Though Amar Singh had gotten Arthur Mithcell early, England chased down 40 runs in 7.2 overs to win the match by nine wickets. Though India would draw the second Test match at the Eden Gardens, England would easily outplay the hosts by a whopping 202 runs in the third Test in Chennai.

Unfortunately, this was Amarnath’s only Test century as he would be dropped for the Indian team in 1936 following dressing room tussles with the Maharaja of Vizianagaram, Pusapati Vijaya Ananda Gajapathi Raju. Amarnath was called back to captain India 12 years later post-independence as he became the first captain to lead an independent Indian team on foreign soil. 

Amarnath was also India’s first captain to win the first-ever Test series win, which came against Pakistan during their 1952-53 tour.

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