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Thursday, September 22, 2016

India's 500th Test at Kanpur ~ some history and Q on 1st Test and 1st victory !!

Decades ago, on 25th June (yes, the same day when Kapil won WC 1983) in Test no. 219, India debuted at Lords – the first Cricket test between India and England.  England's batting was opened by the Yorkshire pair, Herbert Sutcliffe and Percy Holmes, who had established a world record of 555 runs for the first wicket the week before against Essex at Leyton. In his second over, Mahomed Nissar, by sheer pace and swing, dismissed them both – just a day before some of the Indian players had woken up their tour captain, the Maharajah of Porbandar, and told him they were not willing to play under C.K. Nayudu, the man whom he had nominated to lead India in the Test.

Much water has flown under the bridge, as India is set to play their 500th test at Kanpur today.  The series moves on to Kolkata and then to Indore for the next two Tests. New Zealand hasn't won a single Test in India since 1989. Of the 31 Test matches played in India, New Zealand has won just two, losing 13 and drawing 16. The two sides have taken part in 10 series on Indian soil, and eight of these have gone in favour of the hosts, with two ending in draws.  

Statistically in 499 matches thus far, India has won 129; lost 157; drawn 212 – and if they are not adding still, you need to remember that Test against Aussies at Chepauk in 1988 – the tied test ! .. .. do you know when did Indians tasted victory first in Test Cricket and against whom ?

"Nana Sahib with his escort" by Unknown engraver (London Printing and Publishing Co.) - History of the Indian Mutiny (late 1950s, about 1860). Found at columbia.edu. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Nana Sahib,  born as Dhondu Pant, led the Kanpur rebellion during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. As the adopted son of the exiled Maratha Peshwa Baji Rao II, he was entitled to a pension from the English East India Company. The Company's refusal to continue the pension after his father's death, as well as what he perceived as high-handed policies, compelled him to revolt and seek freedom from company rule in India.

Kanpur is one of the largest cities in India by land area and populous too. Kanpur is situated on the bank of the Ganges River and has been an important place in the history of modern India. Kanpur was one of the main centres of industrial revolution in India. It was known as Manchester of the East. Towards the end of 19th  century, Sir John Burney Allens established a group of companies such as Kanpur Textiles, Cawnpore Woollen Mills (Lal-imli), Flex Shoes Company, Elgin Mills and North Tannery under the banner of British India Corporation having headquarters at Kanpur. In the beginning of the 20th  century, Lala Kamlapat established a group of companies such as; J.K. Cotton Mills and J.K. Iron etc.  The British Government also established a number of factories like; Aircraft Manufacturing Depot, Kanpur (Now HAL), Ordnance Factory, Kanpur (Manufactured the Nirbheek Revolver) and Parachute Factory in 1886 to supplement their defence requirements.

In earlier centuries, it was part of the Oudh kingdom and then came into the hands of the British. At this time, the British realized the strategic importance of the site of Kanpur. European businessmen had, by this time, started establishing themselves in Kanpur.  Kanpur later became one of the most important military stations of British India.

That elusive victory came at Chepauk in Feb 1952 in Test no. 345 against England – a win by an innings and 8 runs.  Our  hero was Vinoo Mankad, who bowled superbly in each innings, taking twelve wickets in the match for 108. His performance of eight for 55 in the first innings has seldom been bettered in Test cricket when it is considered that the pitch gave him little assistance. Mankad's bowling inspired the whole side, the fielding being far better than in previous matches and the batting possessed a more adventurous spirit, necessary for the occasion. Carr led England for the first time, Howard standing down with pleurisy, this being the one change from the Kanpur side.

During the afternoon of day 1,  the death of King George VI was announced and arrangements were changed, the second day being made the rest day.  The win came at their 25th attempt. 

Wayback in 1979, when West Indies toured India, the last test – the 6th of that Series was played at Kanpur.   Interestingly that test (No.845) played in Feb 1979 was scheduled to be a six day match between 2nd  and 8th  Feb 1979.  West Indies were without their star players as they were playing in Packer’s World Series and banned.  Sunil Gavaskar led the Indians, scored runs and won at Chepauk, in an otherwise dull series.  Though that Kanpur test  was scheduled to be a 6 day affair to enable a result – that did not happen eventually !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd Sept. 2016.

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