Nishad Pai Vaidya revisits the India-England Test match at Kolkata in 1961-62 in which Chandu Borde scripted two important knocks to set up India’s victory.
On January 3, 1962, Chandu Borde scripted a knock that set up India’s second Test victory over England. Ted Dexter’s Englishmen were outplayed by all-round performances by Borde and the flamboyant Salim Durani. In the fourth Test at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, India were finally able to get the better of the tourists after the two sides played out three consecutive draws. With the victory, India celebrated the New Year in style and set the tone for a series win against England.
The Test match started on December 30, 1961 amid controversy. The great leg-spinner Subhash Gupte and Kripal Singh were suspended in dramatic circumstances. It is said that during the previous Test at Delhi, Kripal Singh asked the hotel receptionist out on a date. When she complained, both Kripal and Gupte were suspended. Gupte never played for India again and it was a pity that such an incident ended a great career.
Indian captain Nari Contractor won the toss and elected to bat first, but was the first man to be dismissed. A number of Indian batsmen got starts with Vijay Mehra and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi scoring fifties. However, India were in a bit of a spot with both of them back in the hut at 194 for five – when Borde walked in to the scene.
In the company of ML Jaisimha, Borde constructed a crucial partnership that resurrected India. They safely negotiated the rest of the overs and ended the first day on 221 for five – with Borde unbeaten on 15. According to Wisden, “India gained a big advantage in winning the toss for the pitch took a fair amount of spin after the first day and rough patches from bowlers’ footholds made conditions difficult, particularly for left-handed batsmen.”
Thus, when India commenced their effort the next day, there was more turn and the batsmen had to contend with it. Borde lost Jaisimha with the score on 259, but Durani joined him to take India to the opposition. India’s all-rounders were out in the middle and they were the key to helping India get a good total. Being stroke-makers, they had a knack of hitting boundaries. They recorded a partnership of 55, before Borde was out for 68 – 40 off which came in boundaries. Durani scored 43 as India stretched its total to 380.
England started their challenge on New Years’ eve and without Gupte, India’s spin-bowling attack had a new look. Borde and Durani had to handle the duties in the absence of the regular leg-spinner. In fact, Borde told CricketCountry in an interview, “I was a leg-spinner, but till Subhash Gupte was in the side; I didn’t get too many opportunities. It was only after he left the scene I was bowled more regularly.“
Durani’s left-arm orthodox combined with Borde’s leg-spin to make it a lethal combination on that wicket at the Eden Gardens. The duo scalped nine wickets in the first innings as England were bowled out for 212. Durani ended up with figures of five for 47 and Borde accounted for four for 65. The medium-pacer Vasant Rajane picked up the only other wicket.
India had a distinct advantage going into the second innings, but had to build on it to bat England out of the game. On New Year’s Day 1962, the Indians began their charge and were going stably. They finished the day on 106 for three with Pataudi and Engineer at the crease. The next was a rest day and action began on January 3.
England hit back hard with three quick strikes to leave India in a precarious position. Engineer, Pataudi and Durani were dismissed in quick succession with the score on 119. Durani had walked in ahead of Borde at No 7 and was out for a duck. It was now left to Borde and Umrigar to extend India’s challenge and make it a stiffer total for England.
Borde carried on from where he left off in the first innings. Umrigar gave him good support and they put up a stand of 73. When Umrigar was dismissed with the score on 192 for seven, India were 360 runs ahead. However, Borde was determined to make a bigger score for England to chase in the final innings. He shepherded the tail to add 60 more runs to India’s total. Ramakant Desai contributed with 29. Mehra, the opener walked in at No 11 as Borde fought hard. The Indian challenge came to an end with Borde the last man out.
In the second innings, the medium-pacers Desai and Ranjane played their part by picking up four wickets in tandem. Borde went wicketless, but Durani picked up three to do the damage. Umrigar also chipped in with two to help India clinch a comprehensive 187-run victory.
That series was a major success for Borde and Durani. India went on to win the next Test at Chennai and sealed the series 2-0. Both Borde and Durani rate that amongst their best performances. Borde told CricketCountry, “We were called the spin twins. Durani and I did very well in that series.”
Summing up the series, Durani said, “When Ted Dexter’s England side came to India in 1961-62, I performed well with both bat and ball. In the fourth Test at Kolkata, I got a five wicket haul in the first innings and three wickets in the second. Then at Chennai in the fifth and final Test of the series, I got a match haul of 10 wickets. In the first Test at Mumbai, I scored 71. Those were my best performances against them.“
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)