Third Test Fifth day: 24 August 1971, Nerve, courage, and Gundappa Viswanath see India through. AFTER all but 50 years ago, and at the 22nd time of asking, India had won a Test match in England, and it gives them the series, too. Those magnificent moments will never be forgotten in the history of Indian cricket. It still needed an effort of nerve and courage on India’s part to make the 173 they required in the fourth innings. When the day began, India, on 76 for two, still required 97.
The runs came, with the loss of four more wickets, after three hours of the tensest possible cricket. The most important innings was the 33 made with the utmost calmness in almost three hours by little Gundappa Viswanath, at 22, the second-youngest player in the match after Gavaskar. Calmness was certainly needed after India’s disastrous start this morning when, without a run added, Wadekar (45) was run out.
The fourth-wicket added 48 in 105 minutes before Duleep Sardesai was brilliantly caught by Knott off Underwood. England began to exert more pressure, and Solkar made only one in 20 minutes before he lost his wicket. But Engineer and Gundappa Viswanath made the result certain before Gundappa Viswanath was out. B. Chandrasekhar’s fine bowling (6-38) on Monday had made the vision possible, but it was indeed a team effort.
Even today, I cringe when I reflect on how I was dismissed with just three required for victory. How I dismissed myself, to be more accurate.
When Ray Illingworth turned to part-time left-arm spinner Luckhurst, I didn’t need Farokh to walk down the track and tell me that England had waved the white flag in surrender. Farokh Engineer and I had weathered the dismissals in rapid succession of Dilip and Ekki by the finish line were tantalizingly close. “Wrist Assured”
I decided to go for the glory shot, naively believing that it was my due to be the hero. Luckhurst sent down the rankest of long hops, short and outside of. My eyes lit up, but I ended up playing the most atrocious cross-batted slog, wanting to seal victory in ablaze. My heart sank when all I managed was a feather through to Alan Knott.
It was like a body blow, a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach accompanying me on my walk of shame to the pavilion. It’s a moment I will never lie down. I wasn’t upset that I hadn’t nailed the winning blow, but you can’t get out like that in test cricket. All the hard work done, victory was within the sight, and I had tossed everything away carelessly.
To a non-regular bowler, no one said anything but I was already ashamed that even the harshest of words would not have registered. Although it was another important lesson of cricket. Test wickets must be earned not gifted away. Oh and for the record I was Luckerhurst’s only test wicket.