The fourth match of the Test series between India and England is being played at the Oval in London. A very happy memory of India is attached to this ground. In 1971, India won the first match and series at The Oval.
The victory story of India is also very interesting. To encourage the team, Indian fans brought an elephant named Bela from the zoo. The 1971 team considered it lucky as it was associated with Ganesh Puja.
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But a different kind of animal had a greater impact on the match. Former Indian leg-spinner Bhagwat Chandrasekhar narrated an interesting anecdote about the match. Chandrashekhar made a wonderful spin with his polio affected arm and took six wickets for 38 runs. In the second innings, his amazing set a target of 173 runs in front of India in the fourth innings. India had achieved this with four wickets remaining.
Chandra recalls that day, “I was going for the run-up when Dilip Sardesai shouted, ‘Hey Chandra, throw it ‘mill reef’.”
Chandrashekhar told the story of this mill reef in a video message to mark the golden jubilee of this victory at the Taj St James Court Hotel on Wednesday.
He said, there was a horse in England at that time Mill Reef. He was winning all the big races. It also included the 1971 Epsom Derby. His speed was amazing. Chandra’s fast ball was also very good, he took 242 in 58 Test matches of his career.
He said, ‘I was thinking of throwing a Googly to John Edrich but I thought, ‘Dilip Sardesai has a good understanding of the game.’ Chandrasekhar dismissed Edrich, who was England’s top batsman, for zero.
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The 76-year-old ex-player expressed happiness and said, “By the time he could pick up his bat, the ball had hit the wickets.” Farooq Engineer was the wicketkeeper of the Indian team at that time. He had full faith in Chandrasekhar’s ability. “With all due respect I want to say that Chandrashekhar is India’s best spinner of all time,” he said.
Farooq did excellent wicketkeeping in front of bowlers like Chandra, Erapalli Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi and Venkataraghavan. “Half the time he didn’t even know where the ball was going,” he told an Indian cricket journalist in London.
Farooq said, ‘Chandra was a very intelligent bowler. He was suffering from polio but the amazing thing is that he made his weakness his biggest strength.
Engineer was unbeaten on 28 when Abid Ali scored the winning run at the other end. However, he did not get time to celebrate his victory as he was playing for English county Lancashire the next day.