India England ODI innings Chris Old Graham Gooch Virat Kohli Kedar Jadhav Navjot Sidhu Mohammad Azharuddin Marcus Trescothick Andrew Strauss Yuvraj Singh Mohammad Kaif Kedar Jadhav
Centre: Sachin Tendulkar
Top, from left: Chris Old slogging; Graham Gooch crushing Indian hearts
Bottom, from left: Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif running frantically © Getty Images; Kedar Jadhav celebrating his Pune hundred © AFP

India played their first three ODIs against England, including the Lord’s match of 1975 that is billed as the first ever World Cup match, remembered mostly for Sunil Gavaskar’s bizarre 174-ball 36 not out. The sides have clashed 96 times, of which India have won 52 and England 39. In fact, England’s win-loss ratio of 0.789 against India is their worst against any side. On the other hand, India have a better ratio only against Sri Lanka. Here is an assortment of some of the greatest innings from these matches:

1. Chris Old, 51* (30), Lord’s, 1975 World Cup: The first day of the World Cup saw four simultaneous matches being played, but the England-India match got the status of the first match. Dennis Amiss, the first outstanding ODI batsman, scored 137 and Keith Fletcher 68.

Then Old emerged, sans headgear but brandishing mutton-chops. The year before he and Geoff Arnold had skittled India out for 42. Two years down the line he would win the Walter Lawrence Trophy for a 72-ball 100. Old lofted Karsan Ghavri into the stands twice and hit four fours. This ODI-brand onslaught was perhaps new to India, who crawled to 132 for 3 in 60 overs despite a target of 335.

2. Kapil Dev, 60 (37), Headingley, 1982: India were reduced to 113 for 6 by Bob Willis, Paul Allott, and Ian Botham when Kapil arrived. Another wicket fell on 114. With Syed Kirmani, Suru Nayak, and Madan Lal (who got 15 between them) for company, Kapil smashed 5 fours and 3 sixes in a way only he could before getting last out (run out) as India reached 193. England won by 9 wickets.

3. Graham Gooch, 115 (136), Wankhede, 1987 World Cup: India had Gavaskar, Kapil (on field), and Sachin Tendulkar (as ball-boy) out there that day. They had been fantastic throughout the tournament, winning 5 out of 6 matches after losing the first by a solitary run. Everyone expected them to make it to the final.

But Gooch had ruined all that. He had practised sweeping left-arm spinners in the days before the match, and replicated that against Maninder Singh and Ravi Shastri. Surprisingly, India did not quite bother to plug the holes at fine-leg. Gooch got his hundred, Mike Gatting chipped in with 56, and England reached 254 for 6. India lost by 35 runs.

4. Chetan Sharma, 101* (96), Kanpur, 1989-90: There have been some outstanding hundreds in history, but few as absurdly outrageous. Chasing 256, India were 65 for 2 when Krishnamachari Srikkanth promoted Chetan. It seemed bizarre, but Chetan seemed to connect everything that day. He survived thrice, but that cannot take the sheen off his brutal strokeplay. With the scores level and Chetan on 97, Gooch brought himself on, and that was that.

5. Navjot Sidhu, 134* (160), Gwalior, 1992-93: India were 1-3 down before they reached Gwalior with a double-header left. Chasing 257, India became 4 for 2 before Mohammad Azharuddin launched a furious onslaught. They added 175, but India lost wickets in a heap, and were suddenly 205 for 7. Sidhu, “magnificently imperturbable” (Wisden), ensured a 3-wicket victory in the company of Anil Kumble.

6. Mohammad Azharuddin, 95* (62), Gwalior, 1992-93: Azhar took charge the day after Sidhu’s effort. India needed to win this, and the target (266 in 48 overs) was steeper. When Azhar walked out India required 167 in 144 balls (remember, this was in the pre-Superbat era). India kept losing wickets — Tendulkar, Kapil, Ajay Sharma — but there was no stopping Azhar that day. India won with 8 balls to spare.

7. Marcus Trescothick, 121 (109), Kolkata, 2001-02: India scored 281 for 8, a target probably achievable at the turn of the century — but Eden Gardens was a big ground. That did not matter to Trescothick, who took on Kumble, Javagal Srinath, Harbhajan Singh, and Ajit Agarkar, treating the 90,000-strong crowd to some delightful yet brutal strokeplay. Then, with England needing 58 in 86 balls, umpire SK Sharma gave Trescothick leg-before to a ball that pitched way, way outside leg. England lost their last 6 wickets for 35.

8 & 9. Yuvraj Singh 69 (63), Mohammad Kaif 87* (75), Lord’s, 2002: The 2002 NatWest Trophy final remains synonymous to Sourav Ganguly’s bare torso, but that was made possible by a herculean effort from two men barely out of their teens. Set 326, India raced to 106 for no loss before collapsing; the onus fell on Yuvraj and Kaif to chase 181 in 156 balls.

Yuvraj played his strokes as Kaif eased into a more sedate role. They both ran swift singles. Yuvraj pierced the cover and mid-wicket boundaries several times with nonchalant ease. Yuvraj top-edged a sweep, but Kaif carried on, mainly with Harbhajan for company. More frantic running saw India past the near-impossible target.

10 & 11. Sachin Tendulkar, 120 (115), Andrew Strauss 158 (145), Bengaluru, 2011 World Cup: Tendulkar set out in pursuit of his 98th international hundred. He reached a calm fifty in 66 balls before taking off; the next fifty took 37. Then he imploded against James Anderson as a leading edge lobbed to cover. From 305 for 3 India were bowled out for 338.

In response, Strauss started with 3 fours off the first 7 balls he faced. He reached his hundred in 99 ball and took another 33 to become the first Englishman to score three 150s. Then Ian Bell holed out, the batsmen crossed over, and Zaheer Khan bowled Strauss with a reverse-swinging yorker. The match ended in a tie.

12. Kedar Jadhav, 120* (76), Pune, 2016-17: Not all teams back themselves to chase 351, especially at 63 for 4. But then, Virat Kohli’s boys seldom seem to give up. Kohli, in his first match as full-time ODI captain, himself led the charge with a 105-ball 122, but there was work to be done. Playing at his home ground, Jadhav went down with cramps — but that did not prevent him from unleashing an astonishing array of strokes. With his feet firmly rooted to the crease, Jadhav merely reached out and swung — and connected. His hundred came in 63 balls, and though India needed another 60 when he fell, Hardik Pandya made sure there was no hiccup.