India's One-Off Leaders
Sehwag, India's 29th official Test captain, with two of his predecessors
Virender Sehwag became India's 29th
official Test captain when he took over the reins from Rahul Dravid for the
ongoing Test against Sri Lanka at Ahmedabad. Of course, the swashbuckler from
Delhi is only a stop-gap candidate, with Dravid well on the way to recovery
from a bout of gastroenteritis. But Sehwag has a promising future ahead of him,
and is unlikely to remain a part of the following list of India's 'one-off'
leaders in Test cricket:
*Hemu Adhikari v/s West Indies at Delhi, 1958-59: Adhikari was vice-captain of
the Indian team that toured England in 1952. Six years later, he led India in a
Test for the only time and did pretty well, scoring 63 and 40. He shared a
century partnership in both innings with Chandu Borde. Adhikari was India's
fourth captain in that series, a traumatic one for the home team. He also
bowled well to take three important wickets, but was unable to prevent the
visitors from amassing the then highest total (644 -8 declared) in a Test on
Indian soil. The match was drawn, but Adhikari did not keep the job. Dattajirao
Gaekwad was appointed skipper for the next international assignment, a tour of
England in mid-1959.
* Pankaj Roy v/s England at Lord's, 1959: The opener from Kolkata led India in
the absence of skipper Dattajirao Gaekwad, who was sidelined due to bronchitis.
Roy was delighted to get an opportunity to lead his country at the headquarters
of the sport, but the game was a forgettable one for him. He became paceman
Brian Statham's 150th Test victim in the first innings when he had scored only
15. Fred Trueman dismissed him for a duck in the second essay. India lost the
match by the huge margin of eight wickets.
* Chandu Borde v/s Australia at Adelaide, 1967-68: An injured left hamstring
prevented Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, the skipper, from playing the first Test of
the series. Borde, his deputy, thus got the chance to captain India. The
stand-in skipper scored 69 and 12 and took three good catches in the first
innings, but he could not prevent his team's defeat by 146 runs.
* Ravi Shastri v/s West Indies at Chennai, 1987-88: Ravi Shastri was not a
member of the original team for the fourth and final Test of the 1987-88 series
against the West Indies. He was reinstated as player and appointed skipper when
Dilip Vengsarkar, the captain, fractured his left forearm in the third Test of
the series at Kolkata. India went on to beat the mighty Windies by 225 runs.
The highlight of the Test was a record sixteen-wicket haul by debutant leg
spinner Narendra Hirwani.