Third Test Match

England v India 1971

Toss: England.

India made cricket history by winning a Test match on English soil for the first time. In doing so, they brought to an end England's record run of twenty-six official Tests without defeat. The Indian matchwinner was the wrist-spinner Chandrasekhar who took six for 38 as England were dismissed in their second innings for 101 runs, their lowest score against India and their third lowest total since the war. For once the all-rounders and bowlers could not redeem the failures of the established batsmen.

The Indians were left 173 to make in the fourth innings and by consistent batting on a slow, turning pitch gained a victory which gave them the series. It was an unexpected win, for until Chandrasekhar's inspired spell on the fourth day England seemed to have the match well in hand.

Snow was recalled for Lever, who was unfit, and Underwood regained his place because of Gifford's injury. England played exhilirating cricket on the first day. They totalled 355 after Illingworth had won the toss for the third time in the series. Jameson (82), Knott (90) and Hutton (81) attacked the bowling with relish, Jameson recalling the dash of Colin Milburn, so powerfully did he drive and pull.

Jameson straight drove two 6's into the pavilion off Bedi and also hit ten 4's in a stay of two and three-quarter hours. England faltered when four wickets went for 46 in an hour after lunch, but Knott and Hutton set a new seventh-wicket record for England against India by adding 103 in sixty-six minutes. Knott swept and cut so audaciously and profitably that his runs came from only 117 balls in the same number of minutes. Hutton's off-driving recalled his famous father as he played in the classic manner.

Friday was lost to rain and prospects looked bleak on Saturday morning. Yet play was resumed only fifteen minutes late and India were soon struggling, losing their openers, Gavaskar and Mankad, for 21 runs. Then Sardesai, for the first time showing the form he had produced in the West Indies, helped Wadekar in a partnership of 93 before Illingworth reduced India to 125 for five by dismissing Sardesai, Viswanath and Wadekar in 23 balls without conceding a run. Engineer and Solkar hit back with a spirited partnership of 97, the left-hander showing much more freedom than in the previous Tests. The outfield was so slow that Engineeer, who played with typical enterprise, never reached the boundary in his 59. Both fell in the closing minutes of the day, but the last three wickets brought another 50 runs on Monday morning, limiting England's first-innings advantage to 71.

Everyone expected that England would set India a stiff task in the fourth innings of the match. Wadekar made no attempt to restrict the batsmen and went straight into the attack with his spinners. After Jameson had been run out for the third innings for England - Chandrasekhar deflecting a straight drive from Luckhurst into the stumps - the innings disintegrated and was all over in two and a half hours. Some poor strokes were played, but Chandrasekhar gave his batsmen no relief. He was wonderfully accurate for a bowler of his type and his extra pace made him a formidable proposition even on the sluggish Oval pitch. Luckhurst denied him for an hour and fifty minutes while making 33, but having refused a single, strangely trying to protect Hutton, he was caught at slip next ball.

India finished the fourth day with 76 for two. Gavaskar was lbw to Snow without scoring, but Mankad played his longest innings of the series and then Wadekar and Sardesai denied England a breakthrough. Next morning, Wadekar was run out attempting a quick single to d'Oliveira before a run had been added.

The tension was high and the Indians, avoiding all risks, took three hours to make the last 97 runs. Illingworth, in his own way, again bowled beautifully, but without luck; and his field placings were masterly, as was his handling of the attack. Underwood was dangerous when operating in a slower style, but was not as consistently taxing as his captain. Sardesai and Viswanath batted in dedicated fashion and when they were out Engineer struck some telling blows. Abid Ali cut the winning boundary to bring the jubilant Indian supporters racing on to the field to acclaim their heroes, who had shown that their success in the West Indies was well merited and in no way a fluke. So India won in England for the first time in thirty-nine years.

© John Wisden & Co