Indian Test triumphs in England, Part 5: Zaheer Khan swings India to ‘sweet’ victory at Trent Bridge

Michael Vaughan termed this Test at Trent Bridge as one of his most bitter defeats as England captain, while for India this was one their sweetest victories. Literally, for it was the tourists who emerged victors following a fiercely contested and rather acrimonious Test match remembered for the jelly-bean incident on day three, which forced England’s captain and coach to concede that matters had gotten out of hand and ultimately spurred Zaheer Khan to deliver a performance for the ages.

READ: When England’s jelly-beans tactics invited the wrath of Zaheer Khan

Indeed, India’s fifth win in 47 Tests on English soil dating back to 1932 owed plenty to the home team’s attempt to unsettle Zaheer when he was batting with their jelly-bean prank.

READ: Indian Test triumphs in England: Tons and tweaks at Headingley, 2002

 

During India’s second innings, Zaheer spotted something small and colourful on the side of the pitch. When he walked over to inspect closely, he saw that it was a jelly bean. Zaheer did not take kindly to the tactic – why exactly had someone from the English team placed it there? – and no sooner had he pushed it away with his bat, Kevin Pietersen walked up and had a word to say.

This incensed Zaheer more, even as Pietersen shrugged his shoulders as if to say “I didn’t do anything”.

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When it was his turn to bowl at England a second time, Zaheer – who had claimed 4/59 in their first innings – claimed 5/75 to set India on the way for a seven-wicket win that put them 1-0 up in the series with one to play.

Afterwards, when asked what had transpired on the field, Zaheer said:  ”When I got out to the crease there were some jelly beans there. I just swept one off the wicket, and when I played the next ball there were some more, so obviously someone was chucking them from behind. I was upset about it. I went to speak to them and asked what was going on. I didn’t know exactly where they were coming from, and maybe I picked the wrong one, but they definitely came from a fielder and I just felt it was insulting.”

His wickets included Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Vaughan, Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell, and in his own word that spell was his “best overall”. Without provocation, the left-arm quick said that the jelly-bean jape had incensed him, while a smiling Rahul Dravid, India’s captain, remarked: “I’m more than happy if Zaheer gets upset. I’ve never seen him so fired up”.

Talk about a plan backfiring.

India’s win, chronologically, played out thus. Dravid chose to field and lead by Zaheer and Anil Kumble (3/32) the tourists bowled England out for 198. In response, India made 481 with Dinesh Karthik (77), Wasim Jaffer (62), Sachin Tendulkar (91), Sourav Ganguly (79) and VVS Laxman (54) scoring half-centuries. Vaughan’s spirited 124 led England to 355, which left India a target of 73. A bruising spell from Chris Tremlett offered a glimmer of hope for England, but in the end Zaheer’s efforts resonated stronger than any other effort.

His match haul of nine wickets for 134 runs was the sixth-best returns for an Indian pace bowler overseas.

Brief scores: 

India 481 (Tendulkar 91, Ganguly 79, Karthik 77, Jaffer 62, Laxman 54) and 73/3 beat England 198 (Cook 43, Zaheer 4/59) and 355 (Vaughan 124, Collingwood 63, Strauss 55, Zaheer 5/75) by seven wickets.

Man of the Match: Zaheer Khan