30 July, 2021

From Silly Point To Long On

A patchwork run through India’s Test history has great anecdotal charm, but is repetitive

From Silly Point To Long On

West Indies, the first team to play in India after Ind­ependence, had to wait till the fourth Test in Chennai in January 1949 to record their first win. India came within six runs of squaring the ser­ies in Mumbai, but they finished with 355 for eight, thanks partly to rival skipper John Goddard’s time-wasting tactics (at one stage, the wicket-keeper ran to the boundary to fetch the ball). And partly to the decision by the Indian umpires to call off the game with two minutes (at least one over) rem­aining. In fact, umpire Joshi not only got the time wrong, he even miscounted, all­owing only five balls in what turned out to be the last over.

This landmark Test match is the starting point of the book; it was an early indicator that India would go for targets in the fourth innings with vigour. So much so, say the authors, that “it became a common joke to say that India ought to play their second innings first”.

It wasn’t so long ago that cricket meant only radio commentary and newspaper reports. Television...

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