36 runs was the lowest that the BCCI XI had ever fallen for. But considering that this had happened in the first test itself of a four-match series in Australia, coupled with the fact that the best batsman and the captain of the side was proceeding on Paternity Leave, the Adelaide humiliation notwithstanding, apprehensions of the 1947-48 Oz Tour’s encore were raised.
The squad at Adelaide was further weakened by the absence of Mohammad Shami, as well as delayed recoveries of Rohit and Ishant Sharma. Things were expected to become worse. Could they have become any worse at Melbourne, after the nadir of Adelaide? How had the previous Indian sides responded in their subsequent innings and matches after being bundled out for less than 70 runs. This has happened six times as yet.
58 vs Australia,Brisbane; 67 vs Australia,Melbourne, 1947-48
India could only muster 58 in the first innings of the first test on a traitorous, uncovered, saturated pitch at Brisbane in 1947. Trailing by 324 runs in the first innings, Lala Amarnath’s team got bundled out for 98 in the second, to lose by an innings and 226 runs.
In the next test at Sydney, India scored 188 in their first innings, and dismissed Bradman’s mighty Australian side for a paltry 107. While Dattu Phadkar scored 51 valuable runs for India on his debut, Vijay Hazare claimed 4 wickets for 29 runs. Leading by 81 runs in the first innings, India had slumped to 7/61 in their second essay when rain intervened. With their lead stretching to 142, India were in with a good chance, but rain robbed the match of an exciting finish. This drawn Sydney Test is also famous for the Mankading incident. Vinoo Mankad had run Bill Brown out for backing too far out of the non-striker’s end. Considering the performance at Brisbane, Sydney was a remarkable turnaround, and gave the Indians something to remember the series for.
India then lost the next three tests, completely outplayed by Bradman, Neil Harvey and Company. They were dismissed for 125 in the second innings of the third test, and blown away for 67 in the last innings of the series at Melbourne. India lost the fifth test by an innings and 177 runs.
Almost 9 months after this disastrous innings, test and series, India took the field against the West Indies led by John Goddard at Feroze Shah Kotla, Delhi in November 1948. In reply to the West Indian score of 631, India managed 454 and 6/220 and somehow earned a draw. Hemu Adhikari followed his 114* in the first innings with a match saving 29* in the second. India eventually lost the six-test series by 1-0.
INDIA 58 vs England, Old Trafford, 1952
Four years after the tour Down Under, India toured England in the summer of ’52. They were already two tests down in the four-match series,. England posted 347 in their first innings of the third test at Old Trafford, Manchester. India ran into Fred Truman who took 8 for 31 as they tumbled out for 58 runs, equalling their lowest total. Trailing by 289, India meekly capitulated in the second innings and fell for a meagre 82, thereby losing by an innings and 207 runs.
Alec Bedser who claimed a fifer in this innings, repeated his heroics in the next (fourth) test at Kennington to send Vijay Hazare’s side packing for 98- their third consecutive sub-100 score in tests. Thankfully rain washed away this fourth and the last test, but India lost the series by 3-0. It is also to be noted that the disaster which struck the Indian elephant in the third and fourth tests was narrowly averted in the second innings of the first test at Headingley where India had been reduced to 4 for 0 by Truman and Bedser. India managed to somehow recover from 4/0 to 5/26, and was finally to put 165 runs on the board. But this set the tone for the series, and exposed our problems against swing, and the short ball.
Less than two months after this series, India hosted Pakistan and beat them in the Kotla test by an innings and 70 runs. Hemu Adhikary 81* and Ghulam Ahmed 50 added 109 runs for the last wicket as India posted 372 runs in their first innings, and broke the under-100 spree of the Indian team.
India 42 Vs England, Lords 1974
The most abject of India’s sub-seventy totals came against England at the Lords test in 1974. It was second test of the series, and India had scored 302 in their first innings in reply to the mammoth English total of 629. The line-up of Gavaskar, Vishwanath, Wadekar and Brijesh Patel could manage only 42 runs in 17 overs against the bowling of not-so feared or celebrated Jeff Arnold and Chris Old in the second innings, losing the test by an innings and 285 runs.
In the Birmingham test that followed, India scored 165 and 216 and were thrashed by an innings. In fact, England declared their first innings after scoring 459 runs for the loss of just 2 wickets. Such was the humiliation in the second test and the third. India lost the series 3-0, and were completely outmatched by the Poms.
India 66 Vs South Africa, Durban, 1996
22 years later, India folded for 100 and 66 runs in Sachin’s first overseas test as the skipper. India’s famed batting line-up comprising of Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Azhar found the going tough against the pace attack of Donald, Pollock, Klusener and McMillan on the very quick and bouncy Kingsmead, Durban as they lost by 329 runs. In the next test at the Centurion, Capetown, South Africa amassed 529/7 before Sachin(169) and Azhar(115) lifted the Indian spirits with a memorable partnership. But in the end it proved too insufficient as India could manage 359 and 137 runs in their two innings, and lost the test by 282 runs, which was hardly an improvement upon the first.
India 36 Vs Australia, Adelaide,2020
In this context, India’s win at Melbourne is special and rightly being hailed as one of its greatest. Restricted to their lowest ever total of 36 runs by the Hazlewood-Cummins-Starc-Lyon attack, India managed to score 326 in their first innings of the MCG test, aided by Rahane’s ton and Jadeja’s fifty. Disciplined Indian bowlers restricted the Aussies to 193 and 202, and the batsmen eked out a great win by 8 wickets. From their lowest ever total in tests to achieving a remarkable series-levelling victory, Indian side has perhaps made the greatest of comebacks in their test history. Therein lies a case for Rahane to be made the full-time test captain, and hailing the contributions of Bumrah, Jadeja and Ashwin.
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