Mohammed Shami and the exclusive club of Indians taking five-fors in an innings on Test debut

Mohammed Shami picked up nine wickets on his Test debut against West Indies in the first Test at Eden Gardens, Kolkata © IANS

Mohammed Shami became the eighth Indian to take a five-wicket haul in an innings on Test debut. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at all the bowlers who started their career on a high.
Mohammed Shami played a crucial role as India defeated West Indies in Sachin Tendulkar’s 199th Test by an innings and 51 runs on Day Three at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Shami was the eighth Indian to take a five-for on Test debut (though it is the ninth five-for). The seven men before him turned out to be cricketers of different stature. Let us find out:

Mohammed Shami and the exclusive club of Indians taking five-fors in an innings on Test debut

Mohammad Nissar.

1. Mohammad Nissar, five for 93 against England at Lord’s, 1932

It was India’s first ever Test, but the inexperience certainly did not show on the field. Mohammad Nissar and Amar Singh showed on debut that they had the fire to match any opening attack in the world. After Douglas Jardine decided to bat, Nissar clean bowled the Yorkshire pair of Herbert Sutcliffe and Percy Holmes in his second over.

England were soon reduced to 19 for three before there was a resurrection of sorts between Wally Hammond and Jardine. Even then, the wickets kept falling, Nissar clean bowled Les Ames and also had Walter Robins and Freddie Brown caught. He eventually finished with five for 93, and the quartet of Nissar, Amar Singh, Jahangir Khan, and CK Nayudu won accolades from the English media.

Having dismissed England for 259, India were bowled out for 189 themselves by the hands of Bill Bowes and Bill Voce. Jahangir Khan picked up four wickets as England set India a target of 346; India ended up losing by 158 runs.

Trivia: After taking the first five-for for India, Nissar claimed their second one as well when he claimed five for 90 in India’s second Test at Bombay.
2. VV Kumar, five for 64 against Pakistan at Delhi, 1960-61

Vaman Viswanath Kumar was originally scheduled to play the fourth Test of the series: the ‘Pongal Test’ would have been at his hometown, Madras. Instead, he missed out, and made his debut in the next Test at Delhi. Polly Umrigar scored 112 as India amassed 463.

Though Hanif Mohammad fell early, Imtiaz Ahmed and Saeed Ahmed batted resolutely, adding 50 for the second wicket. With ‘Bapu’ Nadkarni clogging one end up, Kumar came on and bowled a googly that seemed to stop in the air, dipped suddenly, and fizzed through Imtiaz’s defence.

Nadkarni held up one end as Ramakant Desai and Kumar kept on taking wickets at the other end. Kumar eventually finished with figures of 37.5-21-64-5 and Pakistan, after being bowled out for 286 despite a hundred from Mushtaq Mohammad, had to follow-on. It was over 28 years since an Indian debutant had taken a five-wicket haul.

Once again, the Indians kept probing and Desai and Nadkarni bowled out Pakistan for 250; Kumar played a part in it, returning figures of 36-17-68-2. However, a last-wicket stand of 38 between Mahmood Hussain and Mohammad Farooq meant that, though India had to score only 74 for a victory, they did not have time to pull it off.

Trivia: Kumar was the first Indian spinner to take a five-for on debut. Desperate to watch a video of his bowling, Kumar went to the nearby Wellington Cinema to watch Dilip Kumar’s Daag. He managed to catch himself in action in the newsreel that preceded the movie.

Mohammed Shami and the exclusive club of Indians taking five-fors in an innings on Test debut

Abid Ali © Getty Images

3. Abid Ali, six for 55 against Australia at Adelaide, 1967-68

Syed Abid Ali was probably picked for the Adelaide Test because he could bat, and roll his arms over before the three Indian spinners — Nadkarni, EAS Prasanna, and Bhagwat Chandrasekhar — took over. He was introduced after Rusi Surti and Umesh Kulkarni, and broke the 99-run opening stand when he had Bill Lawry caught-behind, and followed it by catching Bobby Simpson off his own bowling.

He also had Bob Cowper caught-behind for 92, but Australia recovered to 311 for six. Abid came back, and in an inspired spell, bowled Barry Jarman, and followed with the wickets of Graham McKenzie and John Gleeson. He finished with six for 55 as Australia folded for 335.

Abid also clean bowled Cower in the second innings and finished with a match haul of seven for 116. He also scored 33 in each innings, but David Renneburg’s fourth innings spell saw Australia home comfortably.

Trivia: Abid Ali is the only Indian to have taken a five-for on debut and have scored more than 10 in the Test (Vaman Kumar comes next with six runs). He also holds the best bowling figures for an Indian debutant overseas.
4. Dilip Doshi, six for 103 against Australia at Madras, 1979-80

Dilip Rasiklal Doshi had been kept out of Test cricket by Bishan Singh  Bedi, but once the trinity of Bedi, Chandra, and Prasanna faded into oblivion, bowlers like Doshi came into forefront despite their age. Srinivas Venkataraghavan was still going strong, and played in the Test where Doshi made his debut.

Though Kapil Dev provided India with an early breakthrough, Allan Border and Kim Hughes batted for 276 minutes, adding 222 for the third wicket. Doshi, who had earlier removed Graeme Wood, now broke the partnership by removing Hughes. Once Border was run-out, Doshi picked out Graham Yallop and Dav Whatmore, and polished off the tail to finish with figures of 43-10-103-6. Australia had scored 390.

Jim Higgs’ marathon seven for 143 restricted India to 425, and Australia played for a draw, finishing on 212 for seven. Doshi finished with 42-15-64-2 and a match haul of eight for 167.

Trivia: Doshi is the only Indian left-hander to have taken a five-for on debut. He is also the only Indian to have started his career after an age of 30 and still finished with hundred wickets (114 wickets at 30.71 from 33 Tests).

Mohammed Shami and the exclusive club of Indians taking five-fors in an innings on Test debut

Narendra Hirwani © Getty Images

5. Narendra Hirwani, eight for 61 and eight for 75 against West Indies at Madras, 1987-88

Viv Richards’ West Indians were 1-0 up coming into the final Test at Madras; to add to the woes of the Indians, their captain and most in-form batsman, Dilip Vengsarkar, was ruled out of the Test with an injury. The standby captain Ravi Shastri included three debutants, one of which was Narendra Deepchand Hirwani.

After Kapil Dev’s stunning 109 (he added 113 with another debutant, Ajay Sharma) got India to 382, Hirwani took over. West Indies seemed to have started a fightback at 128 for three but unfortunately Hirwani decided to make it his day. The West Indians never had a chance in front of his leg-breaks and well-disguised googlies.

West Indies scored 184, just about saving the follow-on. Hirwani finished with eight for 61. It was then that the third debutant WV Raman got India the lead they needed, scoring 83 (once again Sharma contributed with a 60-run stand); set 416 to win, West Indies capitulated in front of Hirwani again; the leg-spinner picked up eight for 75, Kiran More effected a world record five stumpings (and a world record six in the Test) and the tourists lost by 255 runs.

Trivia: Hirwani’s 16 for 136 is still the best match bowling figures by any debutant. It is also the best match bowling figures by an Indian.
6. Amit Mishra, five for 71 against Australia at Mohali, 2008-09

It took 41 years for India to find anyone other than a bespectacled spinner to take a five-for on Test debut. Amit Mishra got to play the second Test at Mohali when the Indian captain Anil Kumble was ruled out with an injury. A 102 from Sourav Ganguly (playing in his last series) saw India reach a formidable 469.

The Indian seamers quickly reduced Australia to 17 for two, but Simon Katich and Michael Hussey batted with confidence; Mishra was introduced after Harbhajan Singh; he struck in his third over, with the ball turning, finding Katich’s edge and crashing into the leg-stump.

With Michael Clarke looking dangerous, he came on round the wicket and beat him in flight, trapping him leg-before with one that unexpectedly straightened on a turning track; Cameron White was bowled through the gate with a googly; a leg-break trapped Shane Watson leg-before; and Peter Siddle was stumped.

Mishra finished with five for 71. MS Dhoni, captaining India in a Test for the first time, did not enforce the follow-on; India batted, Gautam Gambhir scored a hundred, and Australia were set to chase 516 for a victory. They were bowled out for 195. He deceived Mitchell Johnson in flight and had him caught-and-bowled, and finished the innings when Clarke pulled one to Virender Sehwag at mid-wicket. He finished with match figures of seven for 106.

Trivia: Mishra became the first Indian bowler to pick up a five-for on Test debut after playing ODIs.

Mohammed Shami and the exclusive club of Indians taking five-fors in an innings on Test debut

Ravichandran Ashwin © Getty Images

7. Ravichandran Ashwin, six for 47 against West Indies at Delhi, 2011-12

A new-look West Indies team did not seem likely to put pressure on the hosts on a turning track; however, a dominant 118 from Shivnarine Chanderpaul saw West Indies reach 304. Though Pragyan Ojha was the wrecker-in-chief with six wickets, the debutant Ravichandran Ashwin also played a role with three for 81.

India then collapsed from 89 without loss to 154 for seven before they managed to reach 209. Dhoni opened bowling with Ojha and Ashwin (and brought on Yuvraj Singh first-change); Ashwin started by having Kieran Powell caught at cover, and trapped Darren Bravo leg-before with a deceptively straight shooter.

Marlon Samuels and Darren Sammy were bowled by the carrom ball; brought Chanderpaul’s resistance to an end by trapping him leg-before; and finished off things when Ravi Rampaul holed out to deep mid-wicket. He finished with six for 47 and match figures of nine for 128.

Trivia: Of all the Indian debutants to pick up a five-for on debut, Ashwin is the only one to have gone on to score a Test century subsequently. He has actually scored two.
8. Mohammed Shami, five for 47 against West Indies at Eden Gardens, 2013-14

Mohammed Shami Ahmed turned out to be the weapon India had been looking for over several years: a bowler who can bowl fast, swing the ball (especially the old one) prodigiously, clean up the tail in no time, and send the stumps flying. He picked up four for 71 on Day One of his debut Test — three of them bowled — and West Indies lost their way, collapsing to 234 after being 138 for two.

India were reduced to 83 for five before Rohit Sharma (the other debutant) and Ashwin scored 177 and 124 respectively, adding an Indian record of 280 for the eighth wicket. India managed a 219-run lead. Shami was hit for 21 off his first three overs and was taken away.

West Indies reached a comfortable 101 for one when Ashwin broke the partnership; it was all Shami from there. The reverse-swinging deliveries hit the pads and stumps on a regular basis, and West Indies were bowled out for 168. Shami’s spell read 10.1-0-26-5, three batsmen were bowled, one leg-before, and one caught by bat-pad trying to fend a short-pitched delivery. He finished with five for 47 and match figures of nine for 118.

Trivia: Rohit scoring a hundred and Shami taking a five-for — both on debuts — form the only such example for India.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)