Tests at Chepauk - down memory lane

December 9th, 2008 - 3:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Sachin TendulkarChennai, Dec 9 (IANS) Not for nothing Chennai and specifically the M.A. Chidambaram stadium or Chepauk, occupies the pride of place in Indian cricketing lore. After all, at this very venue some 57 years ago, India posted her first ever Test victory and coincidentally, against England who are due to take on the hosts at the very venue in a fresh series beginning Thursday.The spin combination of Vinoo Mankad, who took 12 wickets including eight for 55, and Ghulam Ahmed, besides centuries by Pankaj Roy and Polly Umrigar saw Vijay Hazare’s India beat Donald Carr-led England by an innings and eight runs to announce their arrival on the international stage that they now dominate if only because of their financial might.

The uniqueness of Chepauk also lies in the fact that it was where the famous second tied Test was played out between India and Australia in 1986 apart from being witness to other individual feats by Indians, all part of the process that has seen cricket in the country evolving into a flourishing industry.

In the 29 Tests played at Chepauk, India have won 11 and lost six with a tie and 11 draws, thus making it a treasured venue in this context. Against England, though, the win-loss record is 3-3 from seven meetings.

Interestingly, two of India’s three victories against England have been by an innings. In fact, the last time the two teams met here in 1993, India won by an innings and 22 runs with Navjot Sidhu and Sachin Tendulkar blasting centuries before spinners Anil Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan shared 19 wickets (one runout) as England fell for 286 and 252 replying to India’s 560 for 6 declared.

Five of India’s victories at this venue have been achieved in the last 20 years, beginning with leg-spinner Hirwani’s astonishing 16 for 136 against the West Indies on his debut. Hirwani is now a National selector.

The only loss India suffered during the period was to Pakistan by 12 runs in 1999 and best remembered for Tendulkar’s fighting 136 besides India losing her last four wickets for four runs and in as many overs when in sight of victory.

Some of the other notable individual milestones reached at this venue by Indians include Sunil Gavaskar posting his 30th Test century to surpass Don Bradman’s record of 29 and Kapil Dev becoming the first to complete 5000 runs and 400 wickets in Tests. Not to forget, Virender Sehwag scorched a triple hundred, his second in Tests, against South Africa in the last Test played here in March this year.

Traditionally, Test cricket is played in Chennai during the harvest festival period of Pongal in January that follows three months of North-East monsoon activity marked by cyclonic weather conditions. True to form, it began raining here this morning!

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