Specials – England in Chepauk Tests, Part 1

Coming off series wins in Australia and Sri Lanka respectively, India and England will commence their four-Test battle for the Anthony de Mello Trophy on 5th February. The first two Tests will be played at the M.A. Chidambraram Stadium in Chennai (formerly Madras), more popularly known as the Chepauk Stadium because of the locality in which it is situated.

England have played 11 Tests in Chennai, of which nine have been at Chepauk (they played two Tests at the Corporation Stadium in 1961-62 and 1963-64). Their record at the ground stands at three wins and five losses, besides a draw. Through this three-part series, we look back at each of these nine Tests, some of which have featured significant results and performances.

Verity wreaks havoc – Third Test, 1933-34

This was the final match of the first ever Test series to be played in India. England, holding a 1-0 lead after having won by nine wickets in the first Test at Bombay, were provided with an opening stand of 111 between Alfred Bakewell (85) and Cyril Walters (59). At 167/1, England seemed to be aiming for a big total. However, the pace duo of Amar Singh and Lala Amarnath sparked a collapse to send the score to 208/7.

Captain Douglas Jardine, in what would be in his last Test, revived the innings by scoring 65 and putting on 97 for the eighth wicket with Hedley Verity, who made a valuable 42. Amar ended with figures of 7/86, taking the wicket of Harry Elliott to end the innings at 335. Verity’s left-arm spin then took centre stage – he captured 7/49 to condemn India to 145 early on the third day. No batsman scored more than 26.

Walters (102) cemented England’s position, enabling a declaration at 261/7. Amar’s new-ball partner Nazir Ali returned figures of 4/83. With opener Naoomal Jaoomal retiring hurt in the first innings, India were already a man short. Verity (4/104) and fellow left-arm spinner James Langridge (5/63) duly bowled England to victory by 202 runs, even as Amar (48) and the Yuvraj of Patiala (60) showed some resistance.  

India finally break the duck – Fifth Test, 1951-52

Vinoo Mankad returned match figures of 12/108 to star in India’s maiden Test win (source – indiatimes.com)

Prior to this series finale, India had not recorded a single win in 24 Tests since their debut in 1932. While England were led by Donald Carr in place of an unwell Nigel Howard, the hosts, under Vijay Hazare, made five changes from the side that played the fourth Test. Richard Spooner (66) and John Robertson (77) anchored the innings after England won the toss, guiding the score to 224/5 at the end of the first day.

The second day was declared as the rest day due to the death of King George VI. When play resumed, Vinoo Mankad made short work of the lower order. The great leg-spinning all-rounder snared the last five wickets on his way to a haul of 8/55, which helped restrict England to 266. When India batted, opener Pankaj Roy rose to the task with a fluent 111. But it was Polly Umrigar who diminished English hopes.

Batting at number seven, Umrigar hit an unbeaten 130, adding 104 with Dattu Phadkar (61) for the sixth wicket and a further 93 with Coimbatarao Gopinath for the seventh wicket. India declared at 457/9, after which Mankad (4/53) and off-spinner Ghulam Ahmed (4/77) secured India’s historic win by an innings and eight runs before tea on the fourth day. This result ensured that the series was drawn 1-1.

England succumb to spin – Third Test, 1972-73

The five-match series stood at 1-1 following India’s 28-run win in the second Test at Calcutta. England were undone by the spin trio of leggie Bhagwat Chandrasekhar (6/90), left-armer Bishan Singh Bedi and offie Erapalli Prasanna, who combined to leave the score tottering at 110/7. But Keith Fletcher (97*) rallied well with the tail. His ninth-wicket stand with Norman Gifford fetched 83, taking the total to 242.

India wobbled to 28/2 in reply, before the middle order shared in vital partnerships. Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, brought into the eleven at the expense of Abid Ali, came in when captain Ajit Wadekar (44) was third out at 89. The Nawab top-scored with 73, which was the cornerstone of the Indian total of 316. Armed with a handy lead, India rode on four-wicket hauls from Bedi (4/38) and Prasanna (4/16) in the second innings.

England managed 159, with Mike Denness (76) doing the bulk of the scoring. Set 86 to win, India were tested in the chase. Sunil Gavaskar did not open due to a finger injury, and with only 11 on the board, Chris Old ousted Farokh Engineer and Wadekar. Salim Durani steadied the ship, but Pat Pocock (4/28) gave a late scare. The off-spinner sent the score from 44/2 to 78/6, before India sealed a four-wicket win.

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