When India beat Australia against all odds and expectations at Brabourne Stadium
Bhagwat Chandrasekhar (left) and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi were heroes of India’s unforgettable win over Australia Getty Images

On October 15, 1964 India pulled off a miraculous victory against the mighty Australians at Bombay. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at one of the greatest Tests played on Indian soil.

The Australians were clear favourites coming into the second Test at Bombay after winning the first Test at Madras by 139 runs thanks to Graham McKenzie s 10-wicket haul. Australia won the toss at Brabourne Stadium and elected to bat.

Unfortunately for Australia, Norman O Neill went down with a stomach pain just after the toss and took no further part in the Test. This meant that Australia played the Test with only ten men.

Three half-centuries helped Australia pile up 320, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar claiming 4 for 50. Fifties from ML Jaisimha, Vijay Manjrekar and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi meant that India managed a lead of 21, the last 4 wickets contributing 153. Chandra took 4 for 73 and Bapu Nadkarni 4 for 33, and as India set out to chase 254 for a victory, few gave them a chance.

Jaisimha fell for a duck on the fourth afternoon; Dilip Sardesai and Salim Durrani seemed to be in control with a 66-run stand, but just before the close of play, Bobby Simpson removed Durrani. Manjrekar, who had played well batting at four in the first innings, was held back; Nadkarni walked in as a night-watchman, and fell without scoring to Tom Veivers. Pataudi sent in Rusi Surti as the second night-watchman of the afternoon, and India ended the day at 74 for 3, still needing 180.

On the final day October 15, which also happened to be Dussera Sardesai and Surti walked out to begin the uphill task of scoring 180 to secure victory. After a painstaking phase, Veivers removed Surti. There was still no sign of Manjrekar, though, as Hanumant Singh strode out.

After the resilience was broken, Simpson brought back McKenzie. McKenzie trapped Sardesai in front of the stumps, and then, continuing his good work, removed Hanumant. Manjrekar finally came out at eight to join Pataudi with the score at 122 for six. But the two senior batsmen, batting at Nos. 7 and 8, remained rooted to the crease despite some hostile bowling, and India crawled to 146 for 6 at lunch, still needing 108.

More attritional cricket followed after lunch: McKenzie and Alan Connolly ran in hard, giving nothing away; Tom Veivers bowled an agonisingly long spell, and the other spinners Johnny Martin and Bobby Simpson supported him. The fielding was immaculate; not a single run was given away; Pataudi and Manjrekar were made to work hard for every run as the Australians pressed on.

But they survived; they added only 69 in the second session, but what was important was the fact that both of them were still around. Bob Cowper was tried and so was Brian Booth, but nothing went past the broad bats of Pataudi and Manjrekar. With 39 to make from the final session and 4 wickets in hand, it seemed India s match from there.

After tea, Simpson had to opt for one last throw of the dice: he brought McKenzie and Connolly back. Almost immediately, without a single run being added after tea, Manjrekar snicked one off Connolly, and Simpson took the catch at first slip. The partnership was worth 93, of which Manjrekar had contributed 39. Nine runs later Pataudi was caught spectacularly for 53 by Peter Burge at backward point off Connolly.

India needed 30 with 2 wickets in hand. Australia were back in the match.

KS Indrajitsinhji, great-nephew of Ranji, nephew of Duleep, and cousin of Hanumant and Suryaveer Singh, walked out; as the wicketkeeper strode out to join Chandu Borde, the crowd knew that it will be over with the fall of the next wicket, given that Chandra was the last man and everyone knew that he was anything but a batsman.

Everyone waited with bated breath as Borde and Indrajitsinhji set off in a meandering pursuit of the remaining 30 runs. All fielders converged around the duo, swooping down on the nervous duo like eager hawks; Simpson removed McKenzie and Connolly and brought back the persistent workhorse Vievers, who kept probing with remarkable accuracy. Almost every single stroke was intercepted. But the runs kept trickling, however slowly.

Then, with two to get, Veivers relentless persistence eventually gave way: he finally bowled a rare full-toss, and Borde hit it straight back for four. As the batsmen returned to the pavilion, victorious by two wickets, the whole country celebrated in this delightful Dussera gift their team had gifted them.

Pataudi went on to mention this victory as “the most satisfying I have known as captain” in his autobiography Tiger s Tale five years after the victory.

Brief scores:

Australia 320 (Peter Burge 80, Tom Vievers 67, Barry Jarman 78; Bhagwat Chandrasekhar 4 for 50) and 274 (Bill Lawry 68, Bob Cowper 81, Brian Booth 74; Bhagwat Chandrasekhar 4 for 73, Bapu Nadkarni 4 for 33) lost to India 341 (ML Jaisimha 66, Vijay Manjrekar 59, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi 86; Tom Vievers 4 for 68) and 256 for 8 (Dilip Sardesai 56, Vijay Manjrekar 53) by 2 wickets.

(A hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobiac by his own admission, Abhishek Mukherjee is a statistical analyst based in Kolkata, India. He typically looks upon life as a journey involving two components cricket and literature not necessarily as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the game with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a rather steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers the sport has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks and googlies in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in)