When the second member of the second generation in Bharadwaj family, Surinder Amarnath Bharadwaj made his Test debut on this day in 1976, the world witnessed a classy and a flashy show.
Surinder Amarnath’s start was so charismatic and promising that everyone was ready to be in his aura for the next few years.
Surinder Amarnath, son of Lala Amarnath and brother of Mohinder Amarnath made his presence feel much before his international debut. His Ranji debut came when he was only 15. In 1967 during a schoolboys tour to England 11 runs required for victory with three balls left. An 18-year-old boy smashed a full toss to win a match for the Indian boys. Indian cricket got a glimpse of what coming next in a few years. Surinder went on to play an unofficial test against Sri Lanka in 1975-76. He scored 118 runs and lived up to his potential during his official debut at Auckland a few months later.
This was the first time Sunil Gavaskar was leading a test for India as a standby for Bished Bedi. New Zealand were bowled out for 266. While chasing Dilip Vengsarkar fell early and India were 16-1. Surinder Amarnath walked in. He proved his worth and scored a hundred (124) on the second day of the match. Thanks to his partnership of 204 with Sunil Gavaskar (116) that India managed to secure a lead of 148 runs. Then EAS Prasanna picked up eight wickets for 76 runs and New Zealand were all out for 215. Although Surinder just scored nine runs in the second innings, India went on to win a match comfortably by eight wickets.
Lala and Surinder became the first father-and-son pair to score hundreds on Test debut. Unfortunately, he could never score another century although he had some notable innings in his short career. He scored two consecutive centuries in four innings against England at home but due to an injury early on the tour of Australia he had to return home. He scored 63, 14, 40, and 63 in consecutive innings against England at home in 1976-77. His stints with Pakistan during the 1978-79 tour were reasonably well but he was never considered again for the international stage. In 10 test matches, he played for India Surinder Amarnath scored 550 runs at an average of 30.55.
An aggressive batsman Surinder Amarnath continued to play for domestic tournaments and showed his caliber time to time. His 235 for Delhi against the rest of India in 1980-81 initiated talks of his inclusion in the team for the Australia tour. Unfortunately, it never materialized. While recalling about the innings Surinder Amarnath revealed in an interview how he kept proving himself to the world. When he wasn’t picked up for the Australia tour, the selectors were criticized by the media and cricket fraternity. To Surinder, it remained an unsolved mystery forever,
“It will remain a mystery why I was not picked. There was too much politics no doubt because I was not dropped for want of performance. I was in a very good form and deserved to be picked on merit. Sadly I was not.”