Second Test Match


At Calcutta, December 30, 31, January 1, 3, 4, 1973. India won by 28 runs. This was a memorable match in many ways. Eden Gardens, with about 70,000 spectators basking in the open stands every day, provided a spectacular setting for the match while the fascinating changes of fortune, with the outcome unpredictable till the last ball, kept the fans on their toes. The victory enabled India to draw level with England, who had won the first Test.

Eden Gardens has always been helpful to seamers and it was unfortunate that England should lose the services of Arnold, who became ill on the eve of the match. His place was taken by Old, who was so successful that he replaced Cottam in the further three Tests. India made two changes, bringing in the veteran left-hander Durani in place of Sardesai, who, anyhow, had reported unfit with a pulled thigh muscle and Prasanna for Venkataraghavan.

Tight English bowling backed up by splendid fielding, in which Wood was outstanding, kept the batsmen under pressure and India could only crawl to 148 for five wickets on the first day. Between lunch and tea, they lost all the advantage of winning the toss, as four wickets fell for the addition of 47 runs to the pre-lunch score of 53 for one. The solitary wicket was that of Gavaskar, who was caught splendidly at short leg off a nasty ball from Underwood that reared from a good length spot. After lunch India slid back. Parkar offered a simple catch off Old to Knott, while Wadekar, batting fluently despite a nasty crack he had on the ribs from a ball from Old into which he ducked, lost Viswanath, caught brilliantly by Wood at gully off Cottam. Wadekar himself followed when he was unfortunately run out, almost immediately after he had taken 16 runs from an over by Underwood. Greig struck one more blow, bowling Durani with a sharp inswinger. Engineer and Solkar then halted the collapse.

The honours of the second day's play rested with India. Batting in a style true to his mood Engineer played a vital role in taking his side's score past the 200 mark. He took credit for 49 of the 62 runs added in the morning. England, starting their reply a little before lunch, lost four batsmen for 68 runs by tea, their troubles coinciding with Bedi and Chandrasekhar taking the ball. An aggressive Wood was bowled by an armer from Bedi, while Amiss, who had been let off by Durani off Chandrasekhar, was snapped up by Solkar in the leg trap. Fletcher, like Wood, tried to attack the spinners, but pulled a full toss from Prasanna into the hands of Gavaskar at short mid-on. Nine runs later Lewis went lbw to Bedi as he padded up and offered no stroke to an armer. Despite these reverses, Denness and Greig added 39 runs with apparent ease when Solkar brought off a superb catch at short let off Chandrasekhar to send back the former. Greig and Knott then batted brightly but shortly before stumps Prasanna, straightening a delivery, forced the former to edge a high catch to extra-cover. On the next morning Old played a significant part in England's progress from 126 for six to 174.

With his wet shirt still clinging to his back, Old gave a flying start to his side when India began their second innings, dismissing Gavaskar and Parker. Durani, batting with Gavaskar as runner, and Viswanath retrieved the position. Despite being handicapped by a pulled thigh muscle, Durani first defied the bowling and then thrust it back with aggressive strokes. His manner drew Viswanath out to play many crisp strokes. After 91 runs had been added, Fletcher took two catches to send them back. His second, off Greig, was a magnificent effort as he flung himself to his left and held the ball inches from the ground.

Greig was the cock of the walk on the next day, the fourth. He demolished the Indian innings by claiming four wickets for four runs in 33 balls. Keeping a fine length and varying his cutters with the straight ball he took five for 24, his best in Tests. Greig followed this effort by halting a batting collapse when England, mesmerised by Bedi, lost four wickets for 17 runs. He and Denness batted till the close to raise the total to 105 for four, and to raise hopes of victory.

Chandrasekhar, however, dashed these when he trapped Greig lbw with a top-spinner and then had Knott caught by Durani at mid wicket off a pull. Picking Denness in the next over Chandrasekhar showed figures of 4.3-2-5-3. Bedi dismissed Pocock and Underwood and it seemed all was over when Cottam put up a simple return catch, but Bedi floored this. Cottam had another escape off Chandrasekhar and profiting by these he and Old took the score to 160 by lunch. The break proved a blessing for India as in his first over after it Chandrasekhar had Cottam lbw, to bring his side an exciting victory.

© John Wisden & Co