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January 31 down the years

Nailbiter in Chennai

Tendulkar and Saqlain star in an India-Pakistan classic

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Sachin Tendulkar: a great innings in a losing cause
Sachin Tendulkar: a great innings in a losing cause © AFP

The first Test between Pakistan and India for nine years ended on this day in Chennai, and it was a classic. A see-saw game went this way and that, and when 18-year-old Shahid Afridi belted 141 to take Pakistan to 275 for 4 (a lead of 263), the tourists were in charge. Then Venkatesh Prasad took 5 for 0 in 18 balls and India were left to chase 271. They collapsed to 81 for 5 before Sachin Tendulkar, with a glorious 136, took them to 254 for 6 - just 17 away from victory. When Tendulkar holed out to Saqlain Mushtaq, the tail was swept away. Saqlain finished with ten wickets as Pakistan won by 12 runs.

Forget bottle caps and sandpaper. Try biting the ball if you want to tamper with it, just like Shahid Afridi did in the fifth ODI against Australia in Perth. Afridi, leading Pakistan in the absence of Mohammad Yousuf, was caught by TV cameras apparently biting the ball on a couple of occasions. This was reported to the on-field umpires by the TV umpire, and after a chat with Afridi, the umpires changed the ball. He was banned for two T20s and Pakistan lost the series 5-0.

Heads, tails or bird? This was the day Saleem Malik called the third when Andy Flower tossed up ahead of the first Test in Harare. The eagle adorns the Zimbabwean coin, and when it landed bird up, Malik happily announced he would bat. But the match referee, Jackie Hendriks, was having none of that: he ordered a rethrow, Malik called wrongly, Zimbabwe batted - and trounced Pakistan by an innings.

Not many batsmen make 250 in a Test and finish averaging only 26, but Faoud Bacchus, who was born today, did precisely that. That 250 came in Kanpur in 1978-79, and he might have made more had he not slipped and hit his own wicket. But he also made seven ducks in 30 innings, and a couple of chaps called Greenidge and Haynes made getting back into the side virtually impossible. Bacchus played 19 Tests for West Indies in the late 1970s and early '80s, and returned 15 years later, at 43, to play ICC Trophy cricket for USA.

Birth of probably the only man to hit Wes Hall for four off his first ball in Test cricket. Brian Bolus did just that in 1963, and acquitted himself commendably throughout his seven Tests over the next year, averaging in excess of 40. But in 1964, Geoff Boycott made his debut, and with John Edrich and Bob Barber also on the scene, Bolus couldn't get back in. He became the third man to be capped by three different counties (Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire), and later joined Ray Illingworth's selection committee in 1994.

At 5.25 pm in Melbourne, Ian Redpath flipped that great West Indian offspinner Lance Gibbs into the hands of Michael Holding at long-off, and Fred Trueman's record of 307 Test wickets was broken. This was Gibbs' last Test - and Redpath's - and Gibbs took one more wicket to end with 309 at an average of 29.09. West Indies were thumped again to round off a 1-5 defeat; it was a landmark match: with Gibbs gone, they no longer had a world-class spinner, and could select four quick bowlers with a clear conscience - a policy that made them the best in the world for the next 20 years.

Andre Russell of West Indies was banned for a year for repeated violations of a drug-testing clause in 2015. Russell was found to have not informed the anti-doping authorities of his whereabouts on January 1, July 1 and July 25 that year, despite several reminders.

Birth of John Inverarity, the Australian who is best remembered for his role in England's famous Underwood-inspired, rain-defying victory at The Oval in 1968. Inverarity, opening, as it transpired, for the last time in Tests, batted throughout Australia's innings but was last out for a 253-ball 56 when he padded up to Underwood's arm ball. Inverarity was a dogged batsman (once dubbed "Inforeverarity") and a useful left-arm spinner. But he excelled as a captain - not of Australia but of Western Australia, whom he led to the Sheffield Shield four years in five. He also coached Kent, and David Fulton, in particular, was fulsome in his praise. In 2011, at the age of 67, Inverarity was appointed as a full-time national selector for Australia.

West Indies' decision to withdraw from their tour to Pakistan in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in USA gave Sharjah its first Test. Yousuf Youhana scored 146 and Rashid Latif 150 - his only international hundred. West Indies managed to avoid the follow-on but conceded a lead of 127. Nearing the end of day four, Pakistan set them a target of 342. West Indies looked like they would draw the match on the final day, reaching 146 for 3, before they lost their last seven wickets for 25 runs. Shoaib Akhtar took five and Abdul Razzaq four - including three in an over.

When David Terbrugge, who was born today, began his Test career with nine wickets at 28 in the West Indian whitewash in 1998-99, it looked like South Africa had found a Fraser-esque seamer of the highest class. But Terbrugge was hit by a variety of injuries and never quite became a regular member of the side.

Birth of the tubby Mohammad Shahzad, Afghanistan's wicketkeeper-batsman, who is inspired by MS Dhoni's style of batting, into which he injects a dose of crazy. However outlandish his shots look, they are effective. In his first 11 ODI innings, Shahzad made three hundreds and three fifties. He hit a 67-ball 118 - then the highest T20I score by an Associate batsman - against Zimbabwe in Sharjah in 2016, and was named the ICC's Associate and Affiliate Player that year. In December 2017, Shahzad was was found to be in breach of the ICC Anti-Doping Code and retrospectively banned for a year, and his records for the year expunged.

Other birthdays
1858 William Moule (Australia)
1866 Henry Forster (England)
1889 Frank Foster (England)
1931 Billy Watson (Australia)
1946 Subrata Guha (India)

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