Don Bradman gives batting lessons to Bill Brown before the fifth Test against India © Getty Images
On December 4, 1947, caught on a rain-affected wicket, Indian batsmen could manage just 58 and 98 against Ernie Toshack and the others. Arunabha Sengupta recounts the day 65 years ago, when the two Indian innings could not overhaul the runs made by Don Bradman.
The elements – the game’s presiding geniuses.
And on that day, these elements decided to have fun at the expense of the inexperienced Indian cricket team.
On the first day at Brisbane, Don Bradman had given a dazzling display of his greatness for the young cricketing nation. Rain had not allowed a single ball till five o’clock on the second, but 11,000 persevering spectators had remained in the ground to watch the few minutes of play. Bradman had taken his score to 179 before close of play. Australia had ended at 307 for three.
As the teams enjoyed their rest on Sunday, rain saturated the pitch, and the gods decided to torment the Indians by allowing the sun to peep through on Monday. The ball started behaving in strange ways and Bradman, in an effort to hit wildly through point, stepped back behind the wicket and hit his stumps with his follow through. The great man walked back for 185, the only time in his career he would be out hit-wicket.
With the lower order struggling to counter Lala Amarnath and Vinoo Mankad in those conditions, Bradman declared the innings at 382 for eight.
However, the Indians, playing their first Test on Australian soil, had no idea about batting on a wet wicket. Mankad and Gul Mohammad fell in the first over bowled by Ray Lindwall. And then, Ernie Toshack, a left-arm medium pacer unplayable on damp wickets, skittled out five men for two runs in 19 balls. In just over one and a half hours, the Indians were bowled out for 58.
Following on, Mankad again fell to Lindwall and Toshack sent back Gul Mohammad, Hemu Adhikari and Gogumal Kishenchand. India finished the disastrous day at 41 for four in the second innings.
The fourth day of the six-day match was rained off. When play resumed on the fifth morning, December 4, 1947, the conditions had improved. Vijay Hazare put on 31 with Chandu Sarwate in over an hour, but then Toshack got into the act once again, getting the former caught. Sarwate batted for three hours for his 26, but none of the others managed to make an impact. Toshack picked up six for 29 – finishing with match figures of eleven for 31. Indians were all out for 98.
India succumbed to an innings defeat, but more interestingly their total scores for the two innings had not been able to overhaul Bradman’s individual score in their two innings. In effect Bradman had beaten India by an innings and 29 runs.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)