On this day 65 years ago Don Bradman pushed a single to the mid-on to complete his one 100th First-Class century. Arunabha Sengupta relives the day and recounts how the Indians pulled off a remarkable win after the great exhibition of run-making.
A week earlier, Don Bradman had scored exactly 100 for South Australia against a strong Victorian attack comprising of Bill Johnston, Ian Johnson, Sam Loxton and Doug Ring. It was his 99th First-Class hundred in 203 matches.
Now, as the inexperienced Indians took on an almost full-strength Australian XI in their fifth game of the tour, expectations were rife. People flocked to the Sydney Cricket Ground to watch the master put the Indian attack to sword, but they had to wait. The Tests had not yet started, and although Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller and Ernie Toshack had inflicted an innings defeat on them in the last match against New South Wales, the Indians had performed creditably in the rest of the matches.They were upbeat as they took on the might of Bradman, Keith Miller, Sam Loxton, Bill Johnston, Neil Harvey, Bill Brown, Bruce Dooland, Ron Saggers and the rest.
Lala Amarnath won the toss and India batted. Gul Mohammad led the way with 85, but they were in trouble as the afternoon wore on. The bowling was less than spectacular, but good enough to reduce them to 229 for nine. But, Gogumal Kishenchand and wicketkeeper Jamshed Irani stitched together a stubborn last wicket partnership, and saw through to the end of the first day.
Thirty two thousand spectators turned up on the second day, three times more than the first, in anticipation of Bradman’s 100th century. But, the last wicket partnership continued to frustrate them for another 38 minutes before Bruce Dooland trapped Irani leg before. Kishenchand remained unbeaten on 75. The last wicket had put on 97 and the total looked a respectable 326.
Bradman was in early when Ranga Sohoni dismissed Bill Brown, snicking to Vijay Hazare at first slip. And soon Keith Miller walked in at number four with the score on 31 for two.
Bradman went in to lunch, unbeaten on 11.
After the break, for a while Miller ran neck-and-neck with the great man, both racing into their thirties. But, after that Bradman broke ahead with some excellent strokes around the wicket. The bowling was not bad, though, with Sohoni getting some life and Vinoo Mankad as accurate as ever. On 80, there was a loud appeal for leg-before against Bradman, and the crowd heaved a sigh of relief when it was turned down.
Minutes before tea, Bradman stood on 99. And Amarnath, in a surprising manoeuvre, threw the ball to Kishenchand.
Bradman later called it a brilliant move. He had never faced Kishenchand before, and neither had he seen him bowl. A tower of strength with the bat in domestic cricket, Kishenchand sometimes bowled decent leg-breaks. And he was bubbling with confidence after his unbeaten 75.
Bradman played the first few balls with utmost respect before driving one to the right of mid-on and rushing across for his century. He raised his bat and the ground erupted.
Twenty years earlier he had scored his first century at Adelaide, playing for New South Wales at that time, in the first Sheffield Shield match of his career.
When he walked in to tea, unbeaten on 101, Sydney Smith, the president of New South Wales Cricket Association, walked in to congratulate him and lead him off the ground.
What happened next
When play resumed Bradman put on an exciting show of aggressive batting and was finally out to Hazare for 172. The combined Australian XI managed a first innings lead of 54 as they were all out for 380.
What people often forget while discussing Bradman’s milestone is that it was one of the two wins India managed on that tour – the other coming later against Tasmania. Given the strength of the Australian side, it was a remarkable achievement.
In India’s second innings, Chandu Sarwate got 58, and Kishenchand played another valuable knock of unbeaten 63. Amarnath declared at 304 for nine, leaving Australian XI 150 minutes to get 251. They did go for it, but Mankad produced a fascinating exhibition of slow left-arm spin. And it also the innings when he first warned Bill Brown and then ran him out for backing up too far before the ball was bowled. It was something that Mankad would famously repeat in the Sydney Test a month later.
Young Neil Harvey stroked his way to an unbeaten 56, but Mankad with eight for 84 ensured that India triumphed by 47 runs.
Kishenchand scored over 7000 First-Class runs at 47.91, playing from1940 to 1970. Yet, people remember him for that one over he bowled. He lives on as a side character in the immortal photograph which shows Bradman setting off for the famous single after the quick-footed on-drive.
(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)