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Explained: Was the ‘Summer of 36’ Indian cricket’s lowest point?

In June 1974, India were bowled out for 42 in the second innings against England at Lord's. That innings had one double-digit score; Eknath Solkar making 18 not out. On Saturday in Adelaide, India's second innings didn't have a single double-digit score.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 23, 2020 12:13:29 pm
India vs Australia, India Summer of 36, India 36, India lowest Test score, Indian ExpressIndia will be without Virat Kohli for the next three Tests, as the captain is returning home on paternity leave. (Photo: Reuters)

Finally, after 46 years, India ‘buried the ghost’ of 42, slumping to a new low at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday. The visitors were shot out for 36 in the second innings against Australia.

Is this India’s lowest Test score?

Theoretically, yes. The BCCI scorecard shows 36/9, with Mohammed Shami retired hurt. Leaving aside technicalities, however, the innings ended on 36. So, this will be India’s lowest-ever Test total.

What was the previous lowest?

In June 1974, India were bowled out for 42 in the second innings against England at Lord’s. That innings had one double-digit score; Eknath Solkar making 18 not out. On Saturday in Adelaide, India’s second innings didn’t have a single double-digit score.

What are the other lows?

As statistician Mohandas Menon put out on Twitter, India slumping to 19/6 was a new low. They never had such a collapse in their Test history, as India’s previous low was 25/6 against South Africa in the second innings in Durban in 1996. India were dismissed for 66 then.

Is this the lowest Test total by any team?

No. New Zealand were all out for 26 against England at Auckland in 1955. That remains the lowest. India’s 36 all out on Saturday is the lowest innings total in Tests since 1955.

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What were the fallouts of the ‘Summer of 42’?

India’s tour of England in 1974 had descended into chaos after the Lord’s debacle. Then India captain Ajit Wadekar had described the dressing-room atmosphere “funeral-like”. In the aftermath, the Indian team was asked to leave from the High Commissioner’s place, where they had gone for dinner. Sunil Gavaskar has narrated the whole incident in his book Sunny Days.

Opener Sudhir Naik was accused of shoplifting. There had been reports of dressing-room discord. India were clean-swept in the three-Test series and upon their return, Wadekar found himself axed from the West Zone team, and never played for India again.

In Indore, fans defaced the Victory Bat, which was erected after India’s first-ever Test series wins in the West Indies and England in 1971. Tiger Pataudi returned to lead the Indian team in the following home series against the West Indies, in which India fought well but went down 2-3.

Anything common between 42 and 36?

India’s weakness against pace in seaming conditions. At Lord’s in 1974, two England pacers, Chris Old and Geoff Arnold, shared nine wickets between them, with Old taking 5/21 and Arnold claiming 4/19. On Saturday at the Adelaide Oval, Aussie fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood accounted for nine Indian wickets. Hazlewood had 5/8 and Cummins 4/21.

What was India’s previous lowest in Australia?

India’s previous lowest Test total in Australia was 58 all out at Brisbane in 1947. Five years later in Manchester, India were again bowled out for 58 against England.

Will BCCI take note?

Of course, the BCCI will take note. This is the first Test of a four-match series and the BCCI usually makes an assessment only after the series is over. So, a knee-jerk reaction is unlikely. However, it is learnt that BCCI president Sourav Ganguly may have a conversation with the team management after the Test. India will be without Virat Kohli for the next three Tests, as the captain is returning home on paternity leave.

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