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On August 3, 1967 at Lord s, Surinder Amarnath hit 2 sixes in the last 2 balls. Photo courtesy: H Natarajan

On August 3, 1967 at Lord s, Surinder Amarnath hit two sixes in the last two balls of a match to pull off a sensational victory for India Schools against MCC Schools. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at a forgotten feat by a left-handed genius.

It was a cold August day at Lord s. The Indian schoolboys, wrapped up in sweaters in weather they were unaccustomed to, took field at Lord s to play a group of English youngsters. It was their sixth match of the tour, and barring the match against London Schools Cricket Association at The Oval, it was their second in a Test venue.

Their seniors the Test team led by Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi had been whitewashed 0-3 in the series; all English victories had been comprehensive; at Edgbaston, where India failed to field two fit seamers, the famous spin quartet (Bishan Bedi, EAS Prasanna, Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Srinivas Venkataraghavan) played together for the only time in their careers.

Indian seamers restrict hosts

The colts had arrived mostly to acquire experience of playing in English conditions. The match at Lord s was a one-day, one-innings affair. The hosts batted first, and neither Ajit Naik (the Indian captain) nor Jitendra Bhutta made an impact with the new ball.

Naik was quick to summon his change bowlers Mohinder Amarnath and Dipankar Sarkar. Mohinder struck twice in quick succession, and followed with 2 more wickets to leave the hosts in trouble at 86 for 4. CG Ruck, the English captain, dug in and helped Dudley Owen-Thomas put up 69.

Sarkar, wicketless till then, now sprang into action by having Ruck caught-behind and adding another to his tally. S Arunkumar, the leg-spinner, added a couple before Sarkar polished things off. Just like Mohinder, Sarkar finished with 4 wickets as MCC Schools were bowled out for 202, losing their last 4 wickets for 10. Despite the low score England had managed to bat out 63 overs, which probably ensured them a draw.

Mukherjee, Surinder lead spirited chase

The tourists lost Laxman Singh and Mohinder early to RWHH du Boulay (nephew of Arthur du Boulay, Gloucestershire and Kent cricketer and a victim of World War I), but Raja Mukherjee and Surinder turned things around. Both were attractive, outstanding strokeplayers, and MCC Schools, despite their familiarity with the situation, could not contain them. However, it was always going to be a race against time, and when Mukherjee was run out for 75, India Schools needed 28 more.

Bhutta tried to help Surinder with the strike but perished soon. Syed Kirmani, young and belligerent, was run out for a duck; India Schools needed 10 when Inder Raj joined Surinder. Inder Raj managed to take a single off the fourth ball of the over, leaving Surinder to score 9 off 2.

[Note: Sources vary regarding India s target at this situation. In his article in ESPNCricinfo, Shashi Tharoor mentions that India requiring 11 from 3 balls when a batsman was bowled; Surinder walked out and hit 2 sixes to seal the match. In The Hindu, Ramachandra Guha writes India Schools requiring 10 from 2. Elsewhere, Amit Varma mentions India Schools needing 12 from 2. However, a look at the scorecard suggests that the target must have been 9 from 2: Inder Raj came out at 193; took a single; and India finished on 206 off the last ball of the 53rd over.]

The final blows

Surinder, dazzling with the bat throughout the day, had to pull off a task that was near-impossible even by his standards. Then a student of Saindass ASH Secondary School, Jullundur, Surinder had played against Australia Schools the winter before. He had scored 57, 201*, and 190 in consecutive innings. This, however, was a different matter.

As the bowler ran in, Surinder had probably made up his mind. The ball crashed into the stands. Unfortunately for Lord s, it was not a packed house but even if the stadium was packed to its capacity it would probably have been hushed by the sheer audacity of the teenager.

3 from 1. Could he do it? The bowler ran in; he knew he would have to bowl the yorker the weapon death-bowlers consider their most potent one even today. Unfortunately for him, Surinder was also prepared: as the bowler let loose a yorker, he found Surinder already stepping out of the crease to convert it into a full-toss! The ball soared over the fence. The prodigal son of one of India s most prominent cricket families had managed to pull off a sensational overseas victory.

What followed?

It took Surinder 9 more years to make his Test debut (though Mohinder made his Test debut two years after the tour). He scored a hundred on Test debut to emulate his father Lala. They still remain the only father-son pair to achieve the feat.

Brief scores:

MCC Schools 202 (Dudley Owen-Thomas 91; Mohinder Amarnath 4 for 46, Dipankar Sarkar 4 for 49) lost to India Schools 206 for 5 (Surinder Amarnath 104*, Raja Mukherjee 75) by 5 wickets.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Editorial Head and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)