In today’s world of T20 and global leagues, it sounds almost unbelievable that there was a time when cricket used to be played at snail’s pace.
When a run rate of 2 runs per over in test matches was quite acceptable among players and fans. There are similar situations which occur during test matches even nowadays but those are few and far between.
Bapu Nadkarni, a left-arm spinner and bowling all-rounder for India was a great player from that era. He was famous for his accuracy and bowling at the same spot and maintaining same line and length for over after over. His career economy rate was below 2 and there were many spells where he displayed his great control and accuracy.
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But most famous of these spells occurred 55 years back on this day. It was 12th Jan 1964. India were hosting England in Chennai (then Madras) for the 5th test match of a series where all four previous test matches were drawn.
Batting first, India scored 457 thanks to centuries from their wicket-keeper Budhi Kundaran and Vijay Manjarekar before declaring. India’s playing eleven consists of three spinners with Chandu Borde, Salim Durani and Nadkarni and England ended day two at 63/2. Nadkarni still did not bowl an over.
On day three, Nadkarni got a chance to bowl and kept bowling from one end with impeccable accuracy. The English duo of Brian Bolus and Ken Barrington decided not to take much risk and started defending everything. Nadkarni kept getting maidens after maidens but it did not impact his concentration and neither did he try to bowl something different. He bowled 21 consecutive maiden overs which is still a world record for the maximum number of consecutive maidens with 6-ball over in cricket. He bowled 131 consecutive deliveries and finally, a run were scored. Bolus and Barrington fought hard in front of Nadkarni and both registered extremely slow 50’s. Bolus’ effort resulted in 88 runs scored in nearly 7 hours whereas Barrington scored a 312-minute 80. Nadkarni ended the day with the analysis of 26 overs, 23 maidens, 3 runs, and zero wickets.
By the time, England got all out for 317 next day Nadkarni’s final analysis read 32-27-5-0. The entire England team crawled to 317 in 190 overs with a run rate of 1.66. Despite a sporting declaration from Indian captain Pataudi, the test match ended in a draw but remembered forever for Nadkarni’s Epic feat.
Nadkarni had quite a few top class performances for India including a century in the next test, a 10-wicket haul against Australia in the next season as well as a match-winning 6/43 against New Zealand in Wellington. However, cricket fans remember him for that one January afternoon where he kept bowling and bowling without giving hardly anything away.