Golden memories of a thriller at Brabourne

Exactly 50 years ago, MAK Pataudi’s India beat Australia in a cliffhanger at the Brabourne Stadium. BS Chandrashekhar, who claimed eight wickets in that Test, recalls in the book, The Winning Hand...

Bobby Simpson’s Australian team reached Bombay after having won the first Test of the rubber in Madras by 139 runs.

Chandra watched the Test as one of the reserves. ‘My fingers itched as Nadkarni took 11 Australian wickets. I cannot hide the fact that I could have helped Nadkarni win the Test. And then we would have arrived in Bombay leading in the rubber.’

Members of the Indian team celebrate the two-wicket win over Australia on the first floor of Brabourne Stadium. Pic Courtesy: CCI

About his inclusion in the playing XI for the second Test, Chandra says, ‘I heard that one of the selectors, who left on the eve of the first Test for Tokyo for the Olympics Games (he seemingly had his finger in every pie), told his colleagues to remain the same playing XI in Bombay if we won the Madras Test.

‘But if we lost the Madras game, he suggested that I be bought in. Well, there were two changes in the Bombay Test.

I came in for (Vasant) Ranjane, the medium-pace bowler, while (Rusi) Surti, an all-rounder, replaced Kripal Singh, also an all-rounder. So in reality, our team batted right down to number 10 all over again. Australia’s second defeat on Indian soil came about on 15 October 1964.

They played with 10 in the Test. One of their leading batsmen, Norman O’Neill, could not take part at all, though he was in the playing XI. He suffered from food poisoning.

‘I was soon among the wickets. Booth played on to his stumps, after getting into an awkward defensive position.

Simpson was deceived. I reckon he was expecting a leg-break. It was a top-spinner and he was bowled.

‘Big burly Peter Burge made 80, and the power he generated in his strokes was just amazing. He had quiet support from young left-hander Bob Cowper, who finally fell LBW to Nadkarni. Borde got Burge, though I was the catcher. It was a pull but straight to me at square-leg.

Then came a fightback inspired by Veivers, another left-hander, and the wicket-keeper, Barry Jarman.

Mind you, we did not at all bowl sloppily. They batted most sensibly. Also, it was really a hot day and all of us bowlers were tiring when the two batsmen got stuck. Surti eventually got Jarman before the drawing of stumps, but the sixth wicket association had resulted in the addition of 151 runs.

Tense time
‘That evening the skipper was very quiet. I think all of us knew we were in trouble. Next morning I got two wickets and a pat from the skipper.

By close of the second day we were 178 for four wickets. Sardesai and Durrani went early, but Jaisimha and Manjrekar seemed to have the measure of the bowling.

Chandu Borde

In brief, they batted effectively and in contrasting styles. But then, just when it seemed so good, both went. Veivers, a clever bowler, beat Jaisimha in the air and bowled him, while Manjrekar, such a fine player of the in-coming ball. Did not find this one from Veivers doing as much and Cowper in the leg-trap had the catch. The skipper and Hanumant saw us through for the day.

‘It was skipper who stole the thunder on the third day. He was at his inspired best. He played what could be called a match-winning innings. Hanumant, and the experienced Borde, fell cheaply, but the skipper, with assistance from Surti and Nadkarni, collared the Australian bowling. Some of his lofted straight-drives were simply mind-boggling. And I still sometimes wonder how McKenzie, with the sun against his eyes, clung to catch. But only a brilliant catch deserved to terminate an effort of such luster. In fact, it was the skipper’s 86 which was instrumental in giving us a lead of 21.

‘Though Australia lost Simpson early, they progressed to 112 without further loss. The next day was one of rest and I am sure that most of us were a trifle worried.’

Interesting tactics
We needed 254 to win. I am not aware of the tactical side of our batting plan. Sardesai made up for his first innings failure, but it was interesting to see that the skipper dropped himself to number seven, Manjrekar to number eight and Borde to number nine. But even then, and with all the three of them batting superbly (the skipper made his second half-century in the match), we had moments of tension. I remember being padded up and terribly I did not have to bat, and that Borde was the hero at the end. The skipper was kind enough, during the victory celebration, to highlight my role in winning the Test.’

Extracted with permission from Rupa & Co, the publishers of The Winning Hand - biography of B S Chandrashekhar by
Rajan Bala.

Brief scores
Australia 320 all out (P Burge 80, T Veivers 67, B Jarman 78; Chandra 4-50) and 274 all out (B Lawry 68, R Cowper 81, B Booth 74; BS Chandra 4-73, RG Nadkarni 4-33) lost to India 341 all out (ML Jaisimha 66, VL Manjrekar 59, MAK Pataudi 86; T Veivers 4-68) and 256-8 (DN Sardesai 56, Pataudi 53, CG Borde not out 30, KS Indrajitsinhji not out 3) by two wickets

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