On this day in 1974, India played their first One-Day International at Headingley. The Ajit Wadekar-led team took on England in a 55-over encounter and managed to put up a solid fight, equalling the then-highest innings total of 265. However, John Edrich and Tony Greig helped England chase down the total with four wickets in hand and 3.5 overs to spare. Out of the (then) six Test-playing nations, India were the last team to get a taste of ODI cricket.
India came into the two-match ODI series after getting whitewashed 3-0 in Tests. They were beaten physically or mentally and only two Indian players (Bishen Bedi with Northants and S Venkataraghavan with Derbyshire) had some experience of limited-overs cricket, while others were completely new to the format.
NOT A BAD START
After England captain Mike Denness won the toss and opted to bat first, Indian openers Sunil Gavaskar and Sudhir Naik got India off to a decent start. The two added 44 runs for the first wickets before paceman Robin Jackman dismissed Naik for 18. Meanwhile, Gavaskar crafted three fours and a six in his 35-ball 28 before he was knocked over by Geoff Arnold. Coming in at No. 4, Gundappa Viswanath (4) couldn't contribute much and became Bob Woolmer's first victim.
India were reduced to 60 for 3 and needed some stability. Wadekar came out to bat at No. 3 and he found a decent ally in Farokh Engineer. The wicketkeeper-batsman scored 32 off 51 and put on 70 runs for the fourth wicket with his captain. After he was dismissed by Chris Old, in came Brijesh Patel who was known to be an aggressive batsman. Wadekar was knocked over by Jackman for an 82-ball 67, studded with 10 fours, but Brijesh took the attack to the England bowlers.
The dashing right-hand middle-order batsman from Karnataka slammed eight fours and two maximums in his 78-ball 82 and helped India get to a total of 265. Syed Abid Ali did chip in with a 24-ball 17 but Brijesh didn't really get much support from the lower middle-order and tailenders. For England, Old picked up three wickets, while Arnold, Jackman and Woolmer took two each.
In response, left-arm spinner Eknath Solkar got rid of both England openers Dennis Amiss (20) and David Lloyd (34), but only after the two had given their middle-order a decent platform. Skipper Denness fell to Madan Lal for just 8 and it looked like India would make a game out of it.
Reduced to 96 for 3, Keith Fletcher (39) joined hands with Edrich and the two got their team out of trouble by adding 83 runs for the fourth wicket. Fletcher played his part but it was Greig who gave England that much-needed push by smashing 40 off just 28 deliveries. Meanwhile, Edrich was finally dismissed for a 97-ball 90 by Venkataraghavan but by then the game was already done. It was wicketkeeper-batsman Alan Knott and Old who got the job done for England with 23 balls remaining.
India dropped both Bedi and Venkataraghavan for the second game at the Oval and went top-heavy with batsmen, with Madan Lal at No. 11. It hardly mattered as India were bundled out for just 172 and England won the match by six wickets.