Second Test Match

England v India

Leslie Smith

They gained a comfortable victory in the end, but India put up a much better fight. Indeed, there was one period when England were really struggling. Once more their batting was extremely patchy and the side did not appear good enough to cause much trouble to the stronger counties.

After their dreary and ineffective approach to the First Test, India, even though defeated with two days to spare, gained much more credit. They showed a greater willingness to play strokes, their work in the field, with Ghorpade outstanding, improved and the way they twice fought back from seemingly hopeless positions earned much praise. Yet, having said that, it became even more obvious that it would be a major surprise if India were to escape defeat, except through the weather, in any of the Test matches.

England relied on an unchanged side, but India were forced to make three alterations. Gaekwad, their captain, went down with bronchitis; Borde, who broke a little finger in the First Test, had not recovered, and Nadkarni strained his back. In their places came Ghorpade, Kripal Singh and a newcomer to Test cricket, Jaisimha.

Roy, who took over the captaincy, won the toss and gave India first use of a pitch which was lively throughout. Although one or two balls did rise awkwardly, the pitch was certainly not dangerous, but fast and medium-fast bowlers were able to get a fair amount of movement and lift from it. Roy and Contractor did well to weather a difficult first hour but unfortunately at the expense of a cracked rib by the left-handed Contractor.

He was hit early on by a rising ball from Statham and fell to the ground. He pluckily continued and played a determined innings. In the last fifty minutes before lunch India lost their three leading batsmen -- Roy, Umrigar and Manjrekar. When dismissing Roy, Statham took his 150th Test wicket.

Despite his obvious handicap, which was mostly felt in running, Contractor produced many good drives and deflections, and with Ghorpade, a batsman always seeking the opportunity to drive, 83 were added for the fourth wicket. Greenhough, the leg-spinner, broke the stand and he proceeded to cause a break-down. In 31 balls he took five wickets for 12 runs, one of his victims being Contractor, seventh out after hitting one 6 and nine 4's in a stay of four and a quarter hours. After tea he employed a runner for the first time. Horton took his first wickets in Test cricket when dismissing the last two batsmen. Evans, who otherwise kept well, went through a bad quarter of an hour when he missed four possible stumping chances off Greenhough. The one point which marred an excellent performance by Greenhough was his tendency to follow through on the line of the stumps. A few days later, in an effort to remedy this, he decided to drop out of first-class cricket for a time so that he could alter his methods.

India lost their last six wickets for 24 runs but, far from being dispirited, they came back splendidly. Desai, in a good spell, accounted for the opening pair and when Surendranath surprised May with an inswinger which knocked back the off stump, England were 35 for three. Barrington and Cowdrey carried the score to 50 by the end of the first day, but next morning England met with more trouble.

Cowdrey, Horton and Evans soon went and with England 80 for six it seemed that India would gain an unexpected lead. As it happened their danger men, Desai and Surendranath, took too much out of themselves in their first long spells, and Barrington and England's tail-enders brought a splendid recovery. Barrington played a fine innings in a difficult situation, defending solidly and hitting hard whenever the chance came. Trueman helped him add 20, but the eighth-wicket stand caused the complete change of fortune. Barrington and Statham putting on 84 in eighty minutes. Then Moss, hitting lustily, helped in a partnership of 42 in twenty-nine minutes. Barrington, last out, batted three and three-quarter hours and hit ten 4's.

India, 58 behind, began disastrously. Contractor, with his side strapped and feeling sore, did not open the innings, Jaisimha going in first. He saw Trueman send back Roy and Umrigar with the third and fourth balls of his first over without a run scored. Both fell to fine catches, Roy at third slip and Umrigar in the galley. Jaisimha left at 22 and Ghorpade, who again showed impressive form, at 42.

A complete collapse seemed possible, but Manjrekar and Kripal Singh changed the situation by excellent batting. They went for their strokes from the first and by the close added 66 at a run a minute. Next morning they carried their stand to 89, the best for India's fifth wicket against England, before Manjrekar was leg-before for the fourth successive time in the series. Kripal Singh soon followed, Statham dismissing both, and although Contractor went in at the fall of the sixth wicket, the end soon came.

England, needing 108 to win, again lost their opening pair cheaply, and with two wickets down for 12 there was just a chance of an exciting finish. Cowdrey and May ended that possibility with the best batting of the match. Cowdrey, in particular, was in great form, showing perfect timing in his driving. They took only seventy minutes to obtain the additional 96 required and the match ended just after tea on the third day. Played in fine, warm weather, the cricket attracted fairly good crowds and nearly 70,000 people watched the game.

© John Wisden & Co