Lala Amarnath: Pioneering cricket icon who set many ‘Firsts’ for India

On 11 September in 1911, former Indian captain Lala Amarnath was born in Punjab in pre-partition India. Lala Amarnath is the man behind some of the many historic ‘firsts’ of Indian cricket. He made his Test debut against England in December 1933. On his Test cricket debut, he became the first Indian player to score a century in Test cricket.
He scored 118 runs against England in his debut match in December 1933, which England won by nine wickets. In his Test career, Amarnath played 24 Tests, scoring 878 runs at an average of 24.38. He scored one century and four half-centuries in a career that lasted over two decades.
He was also an effective bowler and took 45 wickets, with best bowling figures of 5/96. He also had an envious first-class record for his time having scored 10,426 runs at an average of 41.37 in 186 matches, across 286 innings. This resulted in 31 centuries and 39 half-centuries with 262 his best individual score. He was the first captain of the cricket team of an independent India between 1947 and 1952. He captained India in 15 Tests, winning two, losing six and drawing seven. Lala Amarnath led India to its first Test series victory. The team won against Pakistan 2-1 in 1952.
Amarnath was also the first bowler to dismiss legendary Australian batter Don Bradman by hit-wicket. It happened during a Test in November 1947, when he dismissed Bradman as the Australian legend had already piled up 185 runs. His sons Mohinder and Surinder Amarnath also served India in the sport, with the former being a vital part of India’s World Cup-winning team in 1983. Mohinder was the ‘Man of the Match’ in the semi-final against England, scoring 46 runs and getting figures of 2/27 with the ball. In the final, Mohinder contributed a patient 26 runs in 80 balls and took 3/12 in his spell, including the match-winning wicket of Michael Holding. For his contributions to the sport, Lala Amarnath was honoured with the inaugural CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in 1994. He passed away on August 5, 2000.

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