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The Kanpur Test of the 1959-60 series holds a very special place in the history of Indian cricket. For, it was here that India beat Australia in a Test for the first time. As someone who played in that historic game, all I can say is that it was one of the greatest moments of my playing career.

The author in his prime

It was a strong Australian side that arrived in India for a five-Test series. In Neil Harvey and Norman O'Neill, they had two of the world's most outstanding batsmen, and all-rounders like Alan Davidson and the captain Richie Benaud were in a class by themselves. In contrast, we had returned from a disastrous tour of England, where we had lost 0-5, and morale was low, to say the least. The visitors won the first Test in Delhi by an innings and 127 runs, and the pressure was on us as we travelled to Kanpur for the second Test.

A queer wicket, made of 'clay soil' greeted us at the Green Park, Kanpur's Test venue. It was the month of December, and the winter dew made quite a potent combination with the clay strip, in that it took a relatively longer time to dry out as the day progressed. This delay was of course, fantastic from the bowlers' point of view. Throughout the Test, whoever was bowling did very well in the first session. The moisture would evaporate completely by around noon, and thereafter the wicket would become easier for batting.

It was the first time a match was being played in Kanpur on a 'turf' wicket, and it was a given that the side that would win the toss would elect to bat on an unknown surface, obviously as the chances of it getting worse as the game progressed were greater than those of it improving.

The hero of the Test was Jasu Patel, an off-spinner from Ahmedabad who cut the ball more than spun it. In that sense, he was an unorthodox off-spinner. Lala Amarnath, our Chairman of Selectors and an acknowledged reader of wickets, picked him for this game, expecting him to reap rich rewards on the clay wicket. Lalaji went to the extent of telling G. S. Ramchand, our skipper, to bring him on from a certain end. Ram agreed, but the problem was, Jasu also had had a look at the strip and had made up his mind to operate from the other end, not the one from where Lalaji wanted him to bowl.

The author in his prime

What was thought to be good for Jasu for certainly good enough for the versatile Davidson, who adapted to the wicket by bowling a mixture of cutters and spin. After Ram had won the toss and elected to bat, he bowled brilliantly to take 5-31. We could muster only 152. The Aussies began their reply and after a few overs by Surendranath and Ram himself, Jasu was brought on from the end from which Davidson had bowled so well. It was also the end from which the Chairman and the captain wanted him to bowl. But Jasu thought otherwise. He could not make much of an impression, and the openers had added 71 when we players got together on his behalf and suggested to Ram that he be tried from the other end. Ram then realized that Jasu would then get the opportunity to exploit Davidson's footmarks, and made him change ends. The rest is history.

Backed by some excellent catching, Jasu bagged 9-69 in the first innings. Australia led by only 77. Much to Rma's delight, we fared far better in the second innings. Nari Contractor top-scored with 74, and he was out to one of the freakiest catches in the history of the game. He played a full-blooded sweep off Davidson, and Harvey, standing close-in, took evasive action, only for the ball to lodge between his thighs!

We made 291, and set the Aussies a target of 225. On that wicket, it was as good as a target of 1000. Jasu continued from where he had left off in the second innings. I had not done too bad a job with the ball myself in the first innings, bowling 15 wicketless overs for 40 runs, and I asked Ram whether I could bowl in tandem with Jasu. He was reluctant, but I told him to give me just two overs. He relented, and I got Harvey out in those 12 balls! Ram let me carry on, and we completed the win early on the final day. The margin was 119 runs.

The Aussies went on to win that series, and they repeated their performance in 1969-70, which of course is the last time any Australian team has beaten India in India. I hope the Indian team of 2004-05 maintains the tradition.

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1 AustraliaAustralia 118
2 IndiaIndia 112
3 cricketPakistan 111
4 EnglandEngland 108
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1 AustraliaAustralia 123
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1 New ZealandNew Zealand 132
2 IndiaIndia 128
3 west IndiesWest Indies 122
4 AfricaSouth Africa 119
5 EnglandEngland 116
6 AustraliaAustralia 110
7 Pakistan Pakistan 104
8 sri LankaSri Lanka 96
9 AfghanistanAfghanistan 78
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