(Last Updated on : 27-02-2012)
Indian cricket had to struggle very hard for its existence during the independence movement, in the 1940s. It was the decade when the Indian team could not go for any overseas tour, or even could not invite any foreign team to come and play in India. The cricket governing bodies faced a lot of obstacles in organizing the domestic cricket tournaments, as well and all these happened, mainly due to the Second World War. The World War forced the people not to play cricket or do anything during the first half of the 1940s and once it was finished, the Indian team again started playing Test cricket, from the year of 1946.
The Indian team went for their third England tour in the year 1946, though it could not do well, as the World War and the independence movement did hamper the team's performances. India was going through the process and distresses of independence and Partition at that point of time and India's domestic cricketing structure was also in turmoil. However, in spite of all these, the Indian cricket did make some significant advances, as two Indian players, Vijay Merchant
and Vijay Hazare
made some brilliant performances in the domestic cricket. The Indian cricket enthusiasts also turned their interests to domestic cricket, as there was no international cricket.
The foremost tournament in the colonial India was the Bombay Pentangular tournament and the Ranji Trophy
and both the Vijays engaged themselves in creating and breaking each other's records in the tournaments. The great conflict between Merchant and Hazare started in the 1941-42 season, when Vijay Merchant recorded the highest score in the Pentangular, scoring 243 runs for the Hindus against the Muslims. Hazare broke the record in the very next season, when he scored 248 runs against the Muslims.
However, the record of Vijay Merchant could not stay intact for longer, as Vijay Merchant scored an unbeaten 250 against the Rest, very shortly. Hazare was very quick to reply to that and he played a wonderful innings of 309 runs, while batting for the Rest in the same match. The most important and interesting thing about the creating and breaking of these records was that, the two batsmen did all these things within the span of only one week, between 29th November and 6th December 1943. The on field clashes between Vijay Merchant and Vijay Hazare did continue in the Ranji Trophy as well, as Merchant made 141 runs, while batting for Bombay against Baroda. Vijay Hazare soon replied Merchant with a brilliant innings of 101 runs and Merchant once again bettered Hazare in the very next match against Maharashtra, when he scored a mammoth 359 runs. This clash of the titans like Vijay Merchant and Vijay Hazare was undoubtedly the most important and significant incident in Indian cricket during independence and it also helped the game of cricket to retain the attractions of Indian people in the struggling days.