India's second great Lord's heist
Nineteen years on from their greatest triumph - the humbling of West Indies in the 1983 World Cup final - India returned to Lord's for another, no less astonishing, victory. This time, against England in the final of the NatWest Series, India did not start the match as rank outsiders, although the prospect of a tenth consecutive one-day final defeat weighed heavily on the players' minds. And at 146 for 5 chasing 326 for victory, with Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid all back in the pavilion, the contest was as good as over. But nobody, it seemed, had bothered to inform Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh (combined age 41). The pair added 121 in 106 balls to haul India back into contention, before Kaif sealed a two-wicket win with three balls to spare.
Bill Roe set the record for the highest individual innings when he made 415 for Emmanuel College against Caius College in Cambridge. Roe batted for five and a half hours, ran 705 runs and did not give a chance until past his second century. At the close, he complained to the scorer that he made his tally 416... whoever was right, it was better than when he played the day before. He had scored 0.
An unsung hero is born. Of the big shots in West Indies' heavyweight 1980s side, Hilary Angelo Gomes (you can see why he was called "Larry") was the one most likely to escape the autograph hunters. But he added a crucial element of sobriety to the batting line-up, and was a watertight presence at No. 3 or 4. Packer gave him the chance to break into the Test team, and he took it with two centuries against Australia in 1977-78. Indeed six of Gomes' nine Test hundreds came against the Aussies - in Australia he averaged 70 - none better than a diligent 127 on a Perth flyer in 1984-85. That was the third of four centuries in eight Tests in 1984, two of them in England. His average hovered tantalisingly above 40 until his last Test appearance, against New Zealand in Christchurch in 1986-87, when scores of 8 and 33 dropped it just below. This all looked very unlikely during an early three-year spell at Middlesex, when Gomes failed to make a century.
From a prosaic left-hander to a stereotypical one. Just over a year after his Test debut, David Gower carved a regal unbeaten 200 against India at Edgbaston. Already he was building a reputation for himself - the Wisden Almanack said he was "less aggressive than usual" - but his double-hundred still came off only 279 balls, as England careered to 633 for 5.
Birth of one of the last orthodox slow left-armers to play a Test for Australia. The Victorian Ray Bright's last series was in India in 1986-87 - he took 5 for 94 in the second innings of the tied Test in Madras - and he had the misfortune to ply his trade during Australia's nadir in the 1980s. The Aussies won only two of Bright's 25 Tests, and in Australia he averaged 68.
A more productive Australian spinner is born. Ashley Mallett was the best Australian offspinner of the 20th century, in terms of output. He took 132 wickets from 38 Tests, 74 of them in victories. All of his six five-fors came in his first 13 Tests. The last of them, 8 for 59 against Pakistan in Adelaide in 1972-73, remain the best figures by a finger-spinner in a Test in Australia. Mallett later became a journalist, and wrote biographies of Victor Trumper and Clarrie Grimmett.
A prophecy comes true. With Pakistan in a desperate situation on day one of the Test in Colombo, Younis Khan taped a note on a ball that read something like "Fawad Alam will score a hundred." Fawad got out for 16 and Pakistan for 90, so Younis put the ball away. But the next day a fightback was launched. First, Umar Gul and Saeed Ajmal took four each to bowl Sri Lanka out for 240. Then Fawad did as his captain had predicted and helped his side wipe off the first-innings deficit on his way to becoming the first Pakistan batsman to score a century on overseas debut. But while Fawad went on to make 168, and Younis 82, the rest of the batting order collapsed spectacularly - at lunch on day three, they were 294 for 2; by tea, Sri Lanka were 41 runs into their chase of 171 (which they completed the same day). Sri Lanka won the series 2-0.
For a side that has won the World Cup twice, India were actually quite slow to join cricket's pyjama party. On this day at Headingley they played their first one-day international, the last of the (then) six Test-playing nations to do so. They put up a decent fight, equalling the then-highest innings total (265) before John Edrich (90 off 97 balls) and Tony Greig (40 off 28) thumped England to a four-wicket victory.
Birth of the hearty South Australian seamer Eric Freeman. He played 11 Tests between 1967-68 and 1969-70, peaking with 4 for 52 against West Indies on his home ground in Adelaide in 1968-69. He was dropped for good after Australia's humbling in South Africa a year later.
Francois du Plessis, or Faf, born today, was called up to the national side after a stunning domestic season in South Africa in 2010-11, when he topped the limited-overs run charts with 567 runs from ten matches. He made his ODI debut in the home series against India in 2010-11 and played in the World Cup soon after. But it was in Test cricket that du Plessis made his name, as a batsman who could hunker down under pressure: on debut in Adelaide in 2012, he batted over 11 hours (across two innings) and scored a century at No. 7 to save the Test; in the next match in Perth, his 78 prevented a collapse in the first innings and South Africa went on to win the Test and the series. In 2013 he was appointed South Africa's T20 captain. In the Johannesburg Test in December that year, he gave India a terrible fright by batting six and a half hours for his hundred and nearly pulling off a chase of 458. But when South Africa toured India in 2015-16, du Plessis managed only 60 runs from seven innings. He top-scored for his side in the 2015 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, but ended up on the losing side.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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