Mulvantrai Himmatlal 'Vinoo' Mankad was one of the
finest ambassadors of Indian cricket. In my
opinion, his mastery of batting, bowling and
fielding is yet to be surpassed by any cricketer.
Mankad's all-round genius was best illustrated in
the match that is known as "MANKAD'S MATCH". It was
the second Test of the 1952 series between England
and India. The venue was the Lord's Cricket Ground.
Six months prior to the ENGLAND tour, Mankad, who
had bowled India to its first-ever Test win earlier
in the year, had requested the board to assure him
of a place in the team, as he had got a very
lucrative offer from HASLINGDEN CLUB in the
LANCASHIRE LEAGUE. The selectors' deaf ears to his
request forced him to accept the offer and declare
himself unavailable as an India player for the
However, injury worries to some of the picked
players and public pressure forced the selectors to
requisition Mankad's services after the tour began.
But then, it was HASLINGDEN's turn to play
spoilsport. The club refused to release Mankad for
more than one match. The Indian Board reacted
sharply and the turmoil ensured that Mankad had to
remain a mere spectator at Leeds, the venue of the
first Test, a disastrous one for India. They lost
to England by seven wickets and were 0-4 at one
stage in their second innings.
Then, destiny smiled and Sir Herbert Merret,
President of the GLamorgan County Cricket Club,
offered HASLINGDEN compensation to release Mankad
for the remaining Tests. On 19th June 1952, Mankad
came straight out of "Saturday afternoon cricket"
into Test cricket at Lord's. His arrival solved the
dual problems being faced by Indian captain Vijay
Hazare; the absence of a quality opening batsman
and a feeble bowling attack.
India won the toss and opted to bat first. In came
Mankad along with Pankaj Roy to open the batting.
The first over by Bedser was a challenging one and
it tested Mankad for all the six balls. Thereafter,
it was a different story. Mankad unleashed an array
of strokes that had the Lord's crowd gasping in
awe. Straight sixes and sweeps to spinners like
Laker and Jenkins, leg-glances, pulls and drives
off the faster bowlers like Bedser and Trueman were
all part of this magnificent exhibition of batting.
Such was the power and flurry of his strokes that
Jenkins exclaimed aloud, "Hey, what do you think
this is? A Sunday benefit match?"
Mankad and Roy complemented each other, with Roy
playing more sedately and at a normal pace. They
had a partnership of 106 before the Bengali was out
to a splendid catch by Watkins at leg slip for 72.
Then came an Indian collapse and the innings ended
So rapid was the collapse that Mankad was back on
the field on the same day, minus his bat, gloves
and pads. But he bowled on the following day. To
his credit, he had figures of 13-7-13-0, despite
bowling against the likes of Hutton and Simpson
before lunch on day two. England were 68 for no
loss with only 60 runs coming from the first
session. In the post-lunch session however, the
batsmen got the measure of the bowlers and turned
the tables. Hutton especially was severe on Mankad,
driving him through the covers thrice. Mankad
struck back to take three wickets, but England ran
away to a score of 537 runs.
After being in the field for nearly three days,
Mankad was entrusted the mettle of opening the
innings with India trailing by 302 runs. He had
bowled 31 of his 73 overs on the same day. But that
did not affect or bog down his determination. India
lost Roy with only seven on the board. With such a
huge score in front of him, Mankad could so easily
have settled to humdrum defense. But he believed in
'rescue by violence'. As in the first innings, he
thrilled the Lord's crowd to some glorious strokes.
He completed his first Test century against England
and added 211 with Hazare for the third wicket. He
was at last out for 184 with India at 270, not due
to any cricketing brilliance from the English, but
due to sheer exhaustion. Mankad's departure
initiated yet another batting collapse and India
were bundled out for 378, leaving England 77 runs
for victory - a mere formality.
Though India lost by eight wickets, such was the
impact of this great cricketer on the match and the
minds of the English crowd - not because of the 256
runs that he scored or the 97 overs that he bowled,
but the manner in which he carried himself on the
field for nearly 25-and-a-quarter of hours - that
the match is known as "MANKAD'S MATCH".