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Great Test Matches Part II: India v Australia, Mumbai 1964 - Chetan Narula Column
by Chetan Narula
Oct 11, 2008
In the autumn of 1964, Australia arrived in India on a three-test tour, devoid of any other first class or practice matches. The tourists were led by Bob Simpson and had, over the years, seen the retirement of Benuad, Lindwall, Harvey and Davidson, but this didn't have much of a side effect on the team. This can be gauged from the fact that they had just beaten the English in England, to win the coveted Ashes series 1-0. And before coming to India, they had drawn with Pakistan in Pakistan. They were ready for the Indian challenge, no doubt.

The Indians, on their part, were not as weak as the teams that had greeted the Aussies on the previous two tours. The Kangaroos had won 2-0 in 1956-57 and followed it up with a 2-1 win in '59-60. The story and the plot were to be different this time, however. The Indians, under Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, had begun to flower as a team and though still as much in need of favourable conditions for the spinners to succeed, they had it in them to run the visitors closer than ever, thanks to an able batting order, led by none other than the captain himself.

Australia won the toss in the first Test at Chennai and went in to bat. But they almost committed hara-kiri, as they came up short against Bapu Nandkarni, whose slow left-arm had them in all sorts of trouble. The Indians themselves couldn't handle the pace of Graham McKenzie, as he claimed six wickets for 58 runs in 32 overs. India had collapsed to five for 76 before a 142 run partnership between Pataudi and Borde rescued them, helping to build up a lead of 65 runs. The Indian skipper scored a ton, which turned out to be the only one of the entire series.

Skipper Simpson led the way, with Bill Lawry, as they put on 91 for the first wicket, after adding 66 runs in the first essay. Burge (60) and Veivers (74) helped Australia reach 397 in their second innings, setting the home side 333 to win. The Indian batsmen, however, could not bear the brunt of the Aussie new ball attack, reduced to 24 for 4 by the fourth evening. Hanumant Singh (90) and Vijay Manjrekar (40) put up 93 for the fifth wicket, but there was little resistance otherwise. Australia took a 1-0 lead with a 139 run win.

On 10th October 1964, the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai played host to the second Test between India and Australia. The visitors were looking to wrap up the series here itself, given the fallacy of the opposition batting against their pacers. But just as the match was to start, Norm O'Neill was ruled out of the entire game with stomach pains, effectively making this an eleven on ten contest. His absence meant that the game now folded out to be an exciting match up, although the advantage lay with the Indians.

The Aussie captain won a second consecutive toss, electing to bat again, making first use of the pitch. But this time, the opening duo could not cross the fifty mark as in their last two innings. Chandrasekhar struck a quick double blow to have them reduced to 53 for 3. Peter Burge (80) held the innings in place, putting up 89 with Cowper. But when the duo fell within four runs of each other, Australia were staring down the barrel at 146 for 5.

Tom Veivers brought up the rescue act with Barry Jarman, as they defied Nandkarni and Chandra with a 151 run stand. Veivers followed up his innings from the first test with 67 runs, while Jarman contributed 78. The latter, though, fell to left-arm medium pacer Rusi Surti towards the end of the day. Even so, the Aussies ended the first day at a respectable 301 for 6.

India began the second day with purpose, as their spin duo snapped up the last three wickets within only nineteen runs added to the overnight score. In reply, the hosts began cautiously enough not to lose wickets to the pace bowlers, but soon caution turned to drying up of the runs, as the run-rate just failed to pick up. Opener Jaisimha batted 212 minutes for his 66 runs while Manjrekar was equally slow for his 59. They weren't helped by the fact that the Aussies kept a tight leash on the line & length, choking the strike rate.

All the early caution failed to materialize into something concrete as the Indian were reduced to 188 for 6 early on the third morning. Pataudi, overnight not out on 17, continued his rich vein of form from the previous match, as he rallied his tail-enders to support him, bailing India out with a match saving knock of 86. Surti (21), Nandkarni (34) and Indrajitsinghji (23), all played their parts as the captain guided the Indian boat to 341. It was indeed unfair that Pataudi missed a second consecutive and none-the-less deserved century. He was eighth out, caught McKenzie off Veivers, who added a career-best tally of 4 for 68 to his two fifties in the series, already.

In arrears by 21 runs, the Aussie openers were once again up to the task, but Simpson left at the score reading 59. Lawry and Cowper took Australia to 112 for one at the close of play on the fourth day.

Chandra struck early double blows on the fourth day as Lawry was only able to add five runs to his overnight score, out for 68. Burge was gone first ball, but the pairing of Cowper and Booth evaded a collapse first, and then built up a 125 run partnership. It was again time for some drama as Nandkarni took his turn to give the batting side a double jolt. He removed both batsmen within one run of each other, but Australia were still looking good at five for 247.

The rest four wickets fell for 27 runs, handing India a very achievable target of 254 to draw level in the series. When the chase began, Jaisimha fell without opening his account, but Sardesai and Durani put up 66 for the second wicket. It was nearly stumps on the penultimate day, when Durani fell to Simpson and then, things kind of unraveled.

For Durani, Nandkarni and Surti, all had been in good touch with the bat right throughout the series and thus could be sent in such situations, to protect the better batsmen for the final part of the chase. Nandkarni was sent up, but returned immediately without troubling the scorers. The hosts' team management, though, were hell bent on protecting Pataudi, Hanumant Singh and Manjrekar, as Surti came out to bat. India finished the day at 74 for 3.

A crowd of nearly 42,000 gathered on the final day anticipating an Indian win. Surti left with score reading 99, fourteen runs later Sardesai followed and when Hanumant Singh was out at 122, six Indian wickets had fallen meaning that an Indian victory now looked unlikely. But the move to protect the best batsmen in the team paid off, as Pataudi, Manjrekar and Borde battled on together.

This was already turning out to be a great series for the skipper and now his 53 was instrumental in seeing India home, a partnership of 93 in which Manjrekar contributed 39, while Borde remained not out on 30 as the crowd witnessed a thriller of a match, with just half an hour remaining on the clock.

In the third Test at Kolkata, Australia were put in to bat as Simpson and Lawry opened with 97, but another collapse ensued. The Aussie innings ended for just another 77 runs, as Durani, six for 73, ran through the visitors.

Sardesai and Jaisimha began with 60 for India, but a home collapse followed this time until Borde came to the rescue with a determined innings. Australia, 61 runs behind, were again given a consistent start by Simpson and Lawry, who opened with 115. With Australia 143 for one, rain set in and ruined the match. The series was aptly decided at 1-1.

 
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