Team India Head Coach Ravi Shastri revealed that he remembers every single ball of the Oval Test India Won against England fifty years ago, though he was only a nine-year-old child.
24th August marks the day when India defeated England in Oval to clinch their first-ever test series win on the English soil. In a video uploaded on the bcci.tv channel, Shastri recalled the wonderful memories of that thrilling test match.
Shastri said :
“50 years ago, India first beat England to win a Test series in England. I was nine years old and I very distinctly remember every ball bowled in that Test match. I was listening to the radio, you had great commentators. It was riveting stuff, especially when it got close to the wire in the third and the fourth innings. I remember Farokh Engineer, the dashing professional, he was one of the first professionals in England, getting runs in both innings – a half-century in the first, a crucial 28 not out in the second. Vishy (Viswanath Gundappa) getting some runs, Ajit Wadekar (Indian captain) getting some runs in the first innings. Eki (Eknath Solkar), as always, chipping in with runs and wickets when it mattered.”
Shastri also recollected: “Eki’s two catches, literally on the strip, one off Venkat (Srinivas Venkataraghavan) and one off Chandra (Chandrasekhar), were outstanding catches. I also remember Venkat taking one in the slips. And, of course, the brilliance of Chandrasekhar, turned the game on its head. 6 for 38, I still remember the figures. I remember 59 by Engineer in the first innings.”
Shastri admitted that he got tensed as India lost few wickets into the chase. He described then England captain Ray Illingworth as an extremely smart thinker who made the chase a lot more difficult than it should have been. The legendary batsman, popular as “Champion of Champions”, further recalled:
Making 173 look like 273:
“When it got tight in the end, (there was) a crucial partnership between Viswanath and Engineer. It took India close to a win and then Vishy, my childhood hero, got out. My heart was beating with just about 8-10 runs to get because Illingworth was probably one of the shrewdest captains in the business. He made a 172-173 look like 272-273. Every run was crucial and India got it in singles towards the end and then Engineer came in and played a few shots.”
Shastri added: “It was Abid Ali, who hit the winning runs, I still remember. Through point, hit it for four. The crowd invaded The Oval on that day. Abid forgot to take the stumps, he ran halfway towards the pavilion. And then that’s a classic sight, where he goes back to get a stump but there are no stumps left.”
Shastri confessed that the series victory in England at that time inspired his whole generation to take up the bat and aspire to play for India.
Shastri concluded by saying, “Engineer was carried back on the shoulders of everyone. It lifted the spirits of Indian cricket in a huge manner. It gave them the belief that they can go overseas and win. To do it in England is always a story. Fifty years have gone by. Those players, whoever was part of that team, really set the tone.”