England v India, third Test, The Oval, 1971

A divine visitation



Ajit Wadekar: "We needed some 100-odd runs on the last day for India's first-ever Test win against England in England. I had just come back to the dressing room after having a little bit of knock before going out to bat with Dilip Sardesai when our manager, Hemu Adhikari, drew my attention to an elephant going around the ground with a smartly dressed lady guiding her. We found out later that the elephant was called Bella. Adhikari said it was a good omen, considering it was Ganesh Chaturthi [the festival of Ganesha, the elephant-headed Indian god]. I went out to bat on my overnight score of 45 with my hopes doubled, and was run out first ball! As I came back to the pavilion, I prayed to Lord Ganesha, imploring him to make the victory possible, having raised our hopes with his appearance that morning. The rest is history." Photograph by Getty Images

This article was first published in Wisden Asia Cricket magazine