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India have featured in only three international games on August 15, Independence Day. The interesting thing is that two of those games were at The Oval. Thus, as India head into the fifth Test at The Oval, it would only be the fourth time in history that they would play an international; third time at the London venue. Nishad Pai Vaidya revisits India’s previous games on Independence Day.
On August 15, Independence Day, the Indian team have only featured in three international games — all of them being Tests. While one game was before India became an independent nation, two more have come in the 67 years since. Out of those three games, two have been played at The Oval and one at Galle. Thus, when India walk out for the fifth Test against England, it would be the fourth time they would play an international on independence; third time at The Oval.
The fact that India haven’t played a lot of cricket on Independence Day may surprise many. During the month of August, international cricket is mainly played in England, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. Even though India have toured Sri Lanka innumerable times in recent years, they have played a lot of games around this day. Even in England, numerous Tests have ended a few days before August 15.
On the occasion of Independence Day, let us revisit the matches India have played on the big day:
1. England vs India at The Oval: August 15-18, 1936
This Test was played when India was still under the British rule. This was a tour to forget. The Maharajah of Vizianagram alias Vizzy, captained a side on a tumultuous tour, which saw his personal preferences take precedence over the team’s cause. India had lost the first Test at Lord’s and managed to draw the second at Manchester. The famous story goes that before the third Test at The Oval, Baqa Jilani insulted Col CK Nayudu at breakfast and was duly awarded a Test cap. England won the toss and chose to bat with Wally Hammond smashing a double ton. Laurie Fishlock also scored a ton as England piled 471 for eight in one day. Play resumed on August 17 after a rest day and India were shot out for 222 despite half-centuries from the openers. Following on, India managed to score 313 courtesy Nayudu’s 81. However, the target of 64 was no great challenge and England overhauled it on August 18 with nine wickets to spare.
2. England vs India at The Oval: August 14-19, 1952
India had a tough time in England in the summer of 1952. It all started with Fred Trueman’s spell at Leeds and only manifested into a nightmare for India. Though Vinoo Mankad dominated in the second Test at Lord’s, the Indian team couldn’t ward off defeat. Going into the final Test at The Oval on August 14, India were 0-3 down. England won the toss and elected to bat. Len Hutton and David Sheppard put up a strong opening stand which helped them end Day One on 264 for two. On Day Two i.e. August 15, England declared at 326 for six. In reply, India were in doldrums at 49 for five. Rain marred the rest of the Test match and though India were bowled out for 98, with Trueman and Alec Bedser sharing the honours, the game ended in a draw. Thus, India managed to avoid a whitewash.
3. Sri Lanka vs India at Galle: August 14-18, 2001
A new era under Sourav Ganguly heralded exciting possibilities. Yet, when they toured Sri Lanka, this promising side was still trying to find its feet overseas. The first Test at Galle started on August 14 and it wasn’t a happy day for India as they ended on 163 for five. On Independence Day, they had no joy as Sri Lanka took firm control of the game. India were bowled out for 187 and Sanath Jayasuriya smashed a ton to help Sri Lanka finish the day on 264 for three. The agony only piled for India as Kumar Sangakkara smashed his first Test ton. Sri Lanka scored 362 and India were shot out for 180. Sri Lanka finished it on Day Four by getting the six runs to win. India did bounce back in the series and leveled things at Kandy in the second Test. But, Sri Lanka hit back to clinch the series in the finale at Colombo.
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