On This Day in 1964: Bapu Nadkarni’s Most Miserly Bowling in Test Cricket History

On This Day in 1964: Bapu Nadkarni's Most Miserly Bowling in Test Cricket History

It was the first Test between the touring England side led by Mike Smith and hosts India, captained by the great Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi. India elected to bat first in Chennai and courtesy hundreds by Budhi Kunderan (192) and Vijay Manjrekar (108), posted a massive 457 for the loss of 7 wickets before declaring their innings. England were restricted to 317 giving India a vital first-innings lead. Interestingly, it had taken the visitors 190.4 overs to reach the total which means they had batted at a run rate of just 1.66.

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The main reason for England’s crawl in the first innings was the left-arm orthodox Indian spinner, Bapu Nadkarni. Nadkarni was astonishingly restrictive, choked the England batsmen and made them earn every run they scored of his bowling in Chennai. He returned with incredible figures of 32 overs, 27 maidens and 5 runs. This was a remarkable feat and a testimony to the brilliantly accurate line and length bowling of Nadkarni. During the course of his spell, he set the record for bowling 21 consecutive maidens. He bowled to a tight field and gave nothing away. Dot ball after dot ball after dot ball, maiden after maiden after maiden!

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As for the match India collapsed to 152 for the loss of 9 wickets before declaring their second innings. England, set 293, reached 241 for 5 before time ran out. Nadkarni’s restrictive spell in the first innings had played its part in helping India securing a draw.

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Nadkarni’s economy rate of 0.16 in the innings is the lowest for an innings (min. 10 overs bowled) in Test cricket history! The second name on this list is Gary Sobers who conceded just 3 runs in his 14 overs at an economy rate of 0.21 against New Zealand in Wellington in 1956. Incredibly, it is Nadkarni who is at number 3 again with his performance against England in Mumbai in the same series in 1964 – Nadkarni returned with figures of 14 overs, 11 maidens and 3 runs conceding at a run rate of just 0.21 in the second innings.

Nadkarni played 41 Tests for India and although he picked just 88 wickets at an average of 29.07, it was his economy rate of 1.67 – the second-best in Test history after South African, Trevor Goddard – which stood out! He had a stellar first-class record too in which he picked 500 wickets in 191 matches at an average of 21.37 and not surprisingly a stunning economy rate of just 1.64.


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