Birthday special: Erapalli Prasanna – Five best spells of India’s legendary off-spinner

Erapalli Prasanna will qualify as one of the greatest bowlers ever produced by India in Test match cricket. A part of the famed Indian spin bowling quartet, the other three being Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Bishan Singh Bedi, and Srinivas Venkataraghavan, Prasanna could bamboozle even the very best batsmen in the world.

Prasanna featured in 49 Test matches for India and scalped 189 wickets at an average of 30.38. The off-spinner also picked up 10 five-wicket hauls in his career. As Prasanna turns 83 today, let us take a look at the Top 5 spells from the hand of this bowling Genius.

5) 5/70 vs West Indies

We go back to January 1975 to relive this classic spell from the legendary Erapalli Prasanna against the mighty West Indies in Chennai. India batted first and posted a total of 190 on the board. When the West Indies wielded the willow, it was the crafty Prasanna who bamboozled the visitors’ batting line-up and picked up 5 wickets, giving away 70 runs in 23 overs.

Most importantly, Prasanna picked up the wickets of two legends of the West Indian side, Sir Vivian Richards and Clive Lloyd, who were looking dangerous, and the West Indies were bowled out for a total of 192.

India produced a better performance in the 2nd innings and scored 256. Set a target of 255, the West Indian side was bowled out for 154, as India won the match by 100 runs. Prasanna scalped 4 wickets in the 2nd innings as well.

4) 5/42 vs Australia

At the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi in the year 1969, Prasanna’s guile made the Australian batsmen appear clueless. Australia batted first and posted a total of 296 runs on the board. Ian Chappell led the way for the kangaroos and scored 138. In reply, the Indian side was bowled out for a total of 223.

In the 2nd innings though, Erapalli Prasanna and Bishan Singh Bedi spun a web around the Australian batsmen and picked up 5 wickets each. While Prasanna picked up 5 wickets and gave away 42 runs, Bedi scalped the same number of wickets, giving away 37 runs as the kangaroos were shot out for 107. Set a target of 181, India cantered home with 7 wickets to spare.

3) 5/32 vs New Zealand

Wellington witnessed sorcery from Erapalli Prasanna with the ball in the year 1968. In the encounter between India and New Zealand, Prasanna scalped 5 wickets, giving away just 32 runs in the New Zealand first innings, as the hosts were bowled out for a total of just 186. India replied with 327, with Ajit Wadekar slamming a century.

New Zealand wilted in the 2nd innings and was bowled out for just 199. India chased down the target of 59 with 8 wickets to spare.

2) 6/94 vs New Zealand

In February 1968, New Zealand yet again felt the wrath of Erapalli Prasanna as he foxed them with the ball in hand. The Black Caps batted first and posted a total of 350, with Graham Dowling scoring a masterly 143. India replied with a total of 359.

However, the New Zealand willow wielders had no answers to the questions posed by Erapalli Prasanna in the second essay. The off-spinner picked up 6 wickets, giving away 94 runs, as the Kiwis were shot out for a total of 208. India chased down the target of 200 with 5 wickets to spare, with Ajit Wadekar slamming 71.

1) 8/76 vs New Zealand

The best spell in Erapalli Prasanna’s legendary career came in January 1976, in the city of Auckland. The New Zealand side batted first and scored 266. Bhagwat Chandrasekar picked up a sensational six-wicket haul for India in the first innings. India replied with a massive total of 414, with Sunil Gavaskar and Surinder Amarnath slamming centuries.

In the 2nd innings, Prasanna completely outplayed the Kiwi batsmen. The crafty spinner gobbled up the entire New Zealand batting lineup, and picked up 8 wickets, giving away 76 runs, as New Zealand were bowled out for 215. India was set a paltry target of 68, and they comfortably cantered home with 8 wickets to spare.