Nimbalkar stranded 10 short of breaking Bradman’s world record as Kathiawar stage a walkout!
Caricature: Sudhir Shetty

Bhausaheb Nimbalkar was just 10 away from breaking Donald Bradman’s then highest score in First-Class cricket of 452 not out in a Ranji Trophy match between Maharashtra and Kathiawar when the 1948-49 Ranji Trophy game came to a most unfortunate and bizarre end Kathiawar refusing to continue the game and defaulting the match to Maharashtra.

Batting first after winning the toss at the Pune Club ground, Kathiawar scored 238. In reply, the Maharashtra openers Madhu Rege and Kamal Bhandarkar added 81 for the opening wicket before the former fell hit-wicket. In came Nimbalkar and, in partnership with Bhandarkar, made life miserable for Kathiawar as the two added 455 runs for the second wicket. Bhandarkar scored 205 before he became the second Maharashtra wicket to fall.

But the relief for Kathiawar was fleeting as the next batsman, Sharad Deodhar (93), added 242 for the third wicket. Maharashtra’s lead at this point was 540 runs. But the home team was in no mood to declare. Kathiawar got a quick wicket in the form of Mohan Lal with the score on 801, but declaration was still not coming as Madhukar Dalvi walked out to partner Nimbalkar.

When the teams took tea, Nimbalkar was on 443, just 10 away from becoming the highest individual scorer in all First-Class cricket. At this point, Thakore Sahib of Rajkot, the Kathiawar captain, asked the Maharashtra captain [Yeshwant Gokhale] to declare, or his team walks out.

Maharashtra appealed to the Kathiawar captain to stay on the ground for two overs to enable Nimbalkar break Bradman’s world record. But Rathore refused and the Kathiawar players packed their luggage and headed to the railway station to take the train home.

The 29-year-old Nimbalkar was stranded on 443 came in 494 minutes with 46 fours and a six. It remains the highest First-Class score by an Indian batsman. Kathiawar’s walkout meant, Maharashtra lost the opportunity to break the highest team score in Ranji Trophy history 912, made by Holkar four years earlier.