On this day: India’s first-ever Test century

Lala Amarnath

A total of 87 Indian batsmen have celebrated 530 Test centuries for the nation as on date (17th December 2022). And it all began at Bombay Gymkhana, Mumbai on 17th December 1933. On this day, 89 years ago, Lala Amarnath became India’s first-ever Test centurion. Although India went on to lose the match against their colonial masters, Amarnath’s feat was celebrated with joy and fervour.

Also read: The firsts – Maiden Test centurions of every nation

First Test match on Indian soil

After playing out India’s debut Test match at Lord’s, the English team agreed to visit the subcontinent for a three-match Test series. Bombay Gymkhana, Mumbai (then Bombay) was chosen as the venue for the first match. The city was the heart of Indian cricket and its quadrangular tournaments were extremely popular. By erecting temporary stands, almost 50,000 spectators witnessed the historic event. Crowds flocked to the venue to be a part of this legendary occasion.

Indian captain CK Nayudu won the toss and chose to bat first. None of the Indian batsmen managed to last long at the crease as their first innings folded up for 219 all out. With England at 164/4, India still had a chance to get back in the game. Cyril Walter’s 78, Douglas Jardine’s 60 and Bryan Valentine’s 136 helped the visitors earn a lead of 219 runs. Pacer Mohammad Nissar took 5/90.

In the second innings, India stumbled to 21/2. Number three Lala Amarnath found himself at the crease with captain Nayudu. The duo added 186 runs for the third wicket. Nayudu fell for 67 but Amarnath went on to become India’s first-ever Test centurion.

Various accounts inform that the crowd joyously celebrated the century moment. Amarnath instantly became a national hero and was later showered with precious gifts. His dismissal on 118 triggered a collapse as India went on to lose the match by nine wickets. The knock of 118 created a new legend in India and Amarnath remained so in the decades to come.