In 1946, India toured England for a 3-match Test series that marked the return of Test cricket to England after the World War II break.
The series began at Lord’s where India lost by a margin of 10 wickets. The second Test at the Old Trafford ended in a draw as England were just one wicket away from a win. India finished with on 152/9 from 61 overs while chasing a target of 278 runs.
Alec Bedser took seven wickets in the 4th innings but couldn’t see his team earn a 2-0 lead. The final Test was played at The Oval where the first two sessions on Day 1 were washed out. India elected to bat first and finished the day without losing a wicket. Openers Vijay Merchant and Syed Mushtaq Ali scored 30 and 46 runs where only 31 overs were possible.
India batsman Vijay Merchant (left) with opening partner Syed Mushtaq Ali (right)
The opening stand went on for as long as 110 minutes before Mushtaq Ali was run out on 59. India went to lunch at 201/4 but Merchant was closing in towards a hundred. The right-hander took 154 minutes to bring up his fifty but needed only 89 more minutes to get to his ton. Merchant, who was at the non-striker’s end, set off to run for a shot by Vinoo Mankad. The ball went towards Denis Compton at mid-on and Mankad turned down the single.
Compton’s footy skills
Denis Compton, seen in action playing football for Arsenal
While Merchant tried to get back to the crease, Compton kicked the ball in football style to take off the bails. Compton’s kick ended Merchant’s 128 that played a key role in India’s total of 331. Mankad scored 42 runs and later took the wickets of England openers to reduce them to 67/3. But the hosts recovered and ended up with 95/3 in the 50 overs they played before stumps.
India’s hopes of their maiden win in England extended as the final day’s play was a complete washout which was expected to witness some thrilling finish to the series. Compton got a chance to fine-tune his football skills as he went on to be part of the Arsenal football team as a winger. He was part of the Arsenal team along with his brother Leslie Compton where they won the 1950 FA Cup.