On September 29, 1983, Anshuman Gaekwad scored the slowest double hundred in the history of Test cricket — off 652 minutes at Burlton Park, Jalandhar. Sarang Bhalerao goes back in rewind mode and writes about the seemingly embarrassing record.
Burlton Park, Jalandhar, is the venue that has hosted only one Test match. The venue produced a high-scoring draw. It has found an entry in the record books albeit for a reason that might not make Indians proud. An Indian, the then 30-year-old Anshuman Gaekwad, had recorded the slowest ever double century on this venue. This world record stood for a good three years before Brendon Kuruppu made 201 in 777 minutes.
India hosted Pakistan in a three-match Test series. The highlight of the first Test at Bangalore was the batting of Indians in the second innings. Gaekwad added an unbeaten 176 for the first wicket with Sunil Gavaskar.
In the book Playing for India Sujit Mukherjee writes: “Neither Arun Lal nor [Krishnamachari] Srikkanth had distinguished themselves on the tour of Pakistan, so the post of first partner to Gavaskar was open when the team to tour the West Indies was selected. Banking heavily on the domestic scorebook of 1982-83 home season our selectors decided to recall Anshuman Gaekwad. Now thirty years old, Gaekwad had not opened India’s batting since January 1979 (in the second innings of Calcutta Test against West Indies) and had last batted for India at No 5 in the Lord’s Test against England in August 1979.”
What also bolstered Gaekwad’s case was that he opened for Baroda in the First-Class level. He had scored 225 against Gujarat, 64 and 81 versus Maharashtra, 144 against Bombay and 125 against Saurashtra. In the six innings he had scored 731 runs at an average of whopping 146.2.
India won the toss and chose to field. Kapil Dev made early in-roads dismissing Mohsin Khan and debutant Shoaib Mohammad for a duck and six respectively. Zaheer Abbas (49) and Javed Miandad (66) provided fight to the Pakistan innings but by the end of Day One, India had the upper hand restricting the visitors to 185 for seven.
On Day Two, Wasim Raja took the attack to the Indians and scored a breathtaking 125. Pakistan were dismissed for 337. Wisden reports: “Approximately an hour on the second day and the whole of the third were washed out.” India lost Gavaskar early bowled round the legs by Azeem Hafeez. Mohinder Amarnath was dismissed for seven caught behind by Wasim Bari off Hafeez. At the end of the second day’s play, India were 37 for two.
The third day’s play was washed out. The preceding day was a rest day of a Test match. Gaekwad resumed his batting after three days. He was unbeaten on 17. He was playing risk-free cricket. He held the fort as wickets kept falling. Yashpal Sharma was dismissed early on Day Four for seven. Wisden reports: “The fourth day, following the loss of the third, was tedious with India scoring only 154 runs from 85 overs while losing Yashpal and [Sandeep] Patil.”
Gaekwad was unbeaten on 121 at the end of the fourth day’s play but he was a beneficiary of benevolent Pakistan fielding. According to Wisden, Gaekwad should have gone at 39 when ‘keeper Bari dropped a catch that was heading towards the slips. At 94, Iqbal Sikander dropped Gaekwad off Mudassar Nazar.
On the fifth day since there was absolutely no chance of any result, Gaekwad dropped the anchor. He batted resolutely and didn’t go for the bowling. He brought his double century in the third session of the final day. He achieved this feat in 652 minutes — nearly eleven hours — which was the slowest hundred ever in Test cricket. Nineteen minutes later, Gaekwad was dismissed caught and bowled by Wasim Raja. His innings of 201 was scored off 436 balls and it included 17 boundaries.
Slowest double tons in Test cricket:
|Brendon Kuruppu||Sri Lanka||New Zealand||201*||548||777||1987||Colombo|
|Dave Houghton||Zimbabwe||Sri Lanka||266||524||433||1994||Bulawayo|
|Navjyot Singh Sidhu||India||West Indies||201||488||671||1997||Port-of-Spain|
|Sherwin Campbell||West Indies||New Zealand||208||484||650||2001||Bridgetown|
|Marvan Atapattu||Sri Lanka||Pakistan||207*||451||652||1990||Kandy|
Recently, Gaekwad’s bat with which he got 201 was auctioned by the OSIAN group for Rs 204,000.
Pakistan 337 (Wasim Raja 125; Kapil Dev 4 for 80) and 16 for no loss (Mohsin Khan 7*) drew with India 374 (Anshuman Gaekwad 201; Wasim Raja 4 for 50).
Man of the Match: Wasim Raja
(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)