British India was full of surprises. From a foreign country coming and ultimately ruling the home country for over 200 years to a few men’s leadership and protests ending their reign over India, it has all happened here. Something similar to such bizarreness during the same time also occurred in the field of sports, specifically cricket.
The finals of the Bombay Pentangular Tournament (First-class cricket of 1943/44 season) saw one man’s batting score being almost five times more than the rest of the team’s score combined. The person scoring the second highest runs was firstly, his brother and secondly, 288 runs behind him. Although the opposition team won, the scorecard of the second innings of the team batting second was something absolutely extraordinary.
The match was being played between the Hindus and Rest of India. The Hindus posted a mammoth target of 581 runs. A double century from V. Merchant and a score of 186 from HR Adhikari dominated the bowlers. With a steep hill to climb, Rest of India were bundled out for a paltry 133 runs with Vijay Hazare(59) top scoring the innings.
The match seemed like any other match till the first innings with the play being one team dominating the other. What followed was something rather extraordinary.
Second innings started off with Rest of India taking the follow-on and aiming to take the lead. But, Hindus’ bowlers were once again too hot to handle as the top order tumbled down yet again. With scores of just 8,6,16 from the top 3 batsmen, it was upon the middle order to build up and try to win the game. Vijay Hazare, next batsman to come onto the crease showed something magical that day.
With 31 boundaries during his 400 ball stint at the crease, Vijay Hazare individually scored 309 runs. The rest of Rest of India got out to single digit scores except his brother. Hazare fought being the one man army to take his team as close to the high target as possible. The second highest score and the only other score to beat the amount of runs that came in extras was by Vivek Hazare, scoring 21 runs with extras being 19 runs. With all others players scoring in single digits except 3 players, the unusual scorecard read 387 being the team total with 309 being the highest 1st score, 21 the second highest and 16 the third highest with extras of 19 giving them a further boost.
The cause of destruction for the Rest of India was CS Naydu who got 9 wickets, combining both innings, including that of the incredible Vijay Hazare.
Though the match was comprehensive won by the Hindus, the fight taken to the opposition by a single man was one very rarely seen. With such an unusual scorecard and a triple hundred being scored with tail-enders on the other end, British India was convincingly full of surprises.