London: As the hallowed turf of Lord's eagerly awaits the 100th Test between India and England, the cricketing world will fondly remember the heroics of two Indian openers - Vijay Merchant and Mushtaq Ali - who came together to post the country's first major partnership that attracted international acclaim.
In the sixth Test, when matches were a three-day affair, between the two countries in the summer of 1936 at Manchester, the legendary opening pair joined forces for a 203-run opening stand that helped India draw the match. Merchant scored a brilliant 114 while Mushtaq made 112.
Having suffered a humiliating loss in the first Test at Lord's, India, under the controversial captain, Maharaja of Vizianagram, needed a spark of genius and it was left to Merchant and Mushtaq to provide the much needed one.
At Old Trafford, Merchant and Mushtaq were paired for the first time and in the first innings, the partnership was restricted to 18. But in the second innings, when India were still 368 runs in arrears, they took the attack to the English bowlers.
At stumps on the second day, India were 190 for no loss with Mushtaq Ali becoming the first Indian to get a Test hundred overseas. Merchant was on 79. On the final day, they became the first pair of visiting opening batsmen to score hundreds in England.
Their partnership of 203 runs gave India a realistic chance of saving a match that seemed lost after England made a mammoth 571 for eight declared in the first innings. Their historic stand, till date, has stood as an inspiration for all the Indian batsmen, in the subsequent cricket tours of England.