Their rare feat was connected by the Eden Gardens. Before walking out to bat here on Monday morning, Cheteshwar Pujara posed for pictures with coach Ravi Shastri.
And when Pujara resumed his innings, he became the third Indian to bat on all five days of a Test. And the last Indian to do so was who else but Ravi Shastri! He did so in the 1984-85 season against England in Kolkata. Shastri made 111 and an unbeaten seven.
A local remembered that Test as a rather turbulent affair with large sections of a sell-out crowd chanting,“We want Kapil Dev.” India had lost the previous Test to England in New Delhi and Kapil and Sandeep Patil were dropped from the Indian team for indiscreet stroke-play. The crowd in Kolkata was certainly not pleased with Kapil’s omission.
Fingers were pointed at the then Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar. However, Gavaskar, to this day, swears he had nothing to do with Kapil’s ouster.
M.L. Jaisimha, the stylist from Hyderabad, was the first batsman in Tests to bat all five days. He achieved it against Australia in Kolkata – that Eden Gardens connection again! – in 1960 negotiating an attack that included Ray Lindwall, Alan Davidson and Richie Benaud.
Interestingly, Jaisimha batted No. 9 in the first innings and remained not out on 20. The smooth-stroker earned a promotion to No. 4 in the second innings and carved out an innings of 74.
Apart from concentration, endurance and technique, the batsman in question also requires a fair amount of luck. He has to walk in at the right time, both in the first and second innings, giving him an opportunity to spread his innings over five days.
In all, nine batsmen feature in the list, including two who pulled this off in the Ashes. Geoff Boycott’s match-winning 107 and 80 not out on a seaming wicket at Nottingham, 1977, is high on the list. In the Aussie attack was a certain Jeff Thomson.
And Kim Hughes’ 117 and 84 at Lord’s in 1980 was against a top-notch English seam attack of Chris Old, Mike Hendrick and Ian Botham. Allan Lamb’s five-day act at Lords’ – he made 23 and 110 – in 1984 came countering a West Indian pace battery that included Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall.
It’s a pretty special group this – the ‘Five-day Club.’
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