In 1946 the Indian nationals went to England for their third test of that country. Their last test match was also played in England 10 years back post which most of the time were spent in the Second World War. By 1946 the war was over and like many other countries, England was also recovering from the impact of it. Cricket was a big distraction and hence the Indian team, led by ex-England player Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi was a popular one and people followed all their practice matches as well as test matches.
After a loss and a draw in their first two matches, India team moved to London to play against Surrey at the Oval. Oval was heavily damaged during the war and it was the first senior-level match in seven years in that ground. Senior players Lala Amarnath and captain Nawab of Pataudi did not play the game. On 11th May, India batted first and despite the fifties from Gul Mohammad and stand-in captain Vijay Merchant none of the other batsmen up to number nine could cross 20 and India slumped to 205/ 9. The Surrey players were happy when India’s number eleven Shute Banerjee joined number ten Chandu Sarwate.
Both Sarwate and Banerjee were capable enough batsmen as their first class record shows. Sarwate had an average of 32 with 14 First class hundred whereas Banerjee had five hundred and an average of 20. They even opened the batting for East Zone in the previous season. On that day, at the Oval, both decided to attack and started to play accordingly with nothing to lose. There was an early chance of stumping for Sarwate which the Surrey wicketkeeper Gerald Mobey fumbled. But except that, both batsmen batted with extreme control despite taking many risks.
By end of day one, Indians were 398/9 with Sarwate reaching his hundred and Banerjee batting at 87. After a rest day, on 13th May 1946, the duo resumed the innings and soon broke the record of highest 10th wicket partnership in England. Banerjee reached his hundred and it was a rare feat as till now that was the only instance of both number ten and number eleven scoring centuries in the same first-class innings. The partnership finally was broken at 455 after adding 249 runs in the 10th wicket when Banerjee was bowled by Jack Parker.
After the sting in the tail of the Indian innings, Surrey players must have been upset and they collapsed to 135 and followed on. Despite a better performance in the second innings by Surrey batsmen, India won the match by nine wickets on day three.