November 30, 2000

Doubles by visiting batsmen in India

Andy Flower capped a magnificent Test series with an unbeaten 232 at Nagpur, only the eighth double century by a visiting batsman in India and the first in 14 years. In the process, Flower compiled the highest score by a wicket keeper in a Test match, eclipsing Taslim Arif's 210 not out for Pakistan against Australia at Faislabad in 1979-80. The 32-year-old Zimbabwean's ninth Test hundred also gives him the record for most centuries by a wicket keeper in Tests, ahead of England's Les Ames who had eight.

The two Test series saw three double centuries scored with Sachin Tendulkar's 201 not out on the second day being the 200th 200 in Test cricket. Twenty two have now been scored in India in 179 Tests since 1933-34, fourteen by Indians. The first double century in India was Polly Umrigar's 223 against New Zealand at the Fateh Maidan in 1955-56. The first by a visiting batsman came two Tests later in the same series when Bert Sutcliffe hit an unbeaten 230 at the Feroz Shah Kotla. The game was a mockery of Test cricket, producing 1093 runs for the loss of just ten wickets. The series saw four double centuries in five Tests, Vinoo Mankad making the other two.

The benchmark on Indian soil remains Rohan Kanhai's 256 at the Eden Gardens in 1958-59 which incidentally was his maiden Test century. West Indies won by a lopsided innings and 336 runs, still the second largest victory margin in Test cricket. Indeed the top three individual scores in the country have been made by West Indians, with Faoud Bacchus and Clive Lloyd following Kanhai.

Bacchus made 250 on a placid Green Park wicket in the sixth Test of the 1978-79 series while Lloyd's unbeaten 242 arrived in the maiden Test at the Wankhede Stadium, four years earlier. The three other Test double centuries by touring batsmen in India all came at the Chidambaram Stadium in Chepauk in the space of two years. Graeme Fowler (201) and Mike Gatting (207) made doubles in the same innings in 1984/85 while Dean Jones followed in their footsteps with a monumental 210 in the Tied Test in 1986/87. Chepauk has seen five doubles in toto, the most at any Indian ground.