India have won just six Test matches in England © Getty Images
After bringing up only their sixth win on English soil, R Vishal jogs down memory lane to relive all of India’s wins in Old Blighty. Here’s how the action unravelled…
The Oval 1971: India win by 4 wickets
In what was a landmark year in Indian cricket, BS Chandrasekhar spun a web around the formidable hosts’ batting order to trigger a dramatic second-innings collapse. England won the toss and elected to bat on Day One and posted 355 through well-constructed knocks by John Jameson, Alan Knott and Richard Hutton. Ray Illingworth was the first to exploit the turning track, running though the Indian middle-order to end up with a five-for. The Chandrasekhar show in the second innings left England clutching at straws, as they were bundled out for 101, leaving India 174 to chase. Nerves were visible in the Indian camp when they lost openers Sunil Gavaskar and Ashok Mankad with just 37 on board. However, the calm, wise heads of skipper Ajit Wadekar and Dilip Sardesai ensured that India broke their winless streak in England.
Lord’s 1986: India win by 5 wickets
Swing ruled the roost in India’s first win at the Mecca of cricket in the first of a three-match series. Graham Gooch’s well-crafted century was usurped by Chetan Sharma’s five wicket haul in the first Innings. Sharma was complemented well by Roger Binny as England were all-out for 294. Dilip Vengsarkar showed his pristine class and technique by scoring a majestic unbeaten century. However, little or no support from the Indian middle and lower order meant that Vengarkar was stranded on 126. Kapil Dev then took matters into his own hands to script yet another glorious chapter in his career at Lord’s. England only made 180 in their second essay and India had to chase down 134. Sticking to the script that played out in 1971, India yet again lost their openers early. Graham Dilley was on target for the hosts. Vengsarkar then wore the English bowlers down with a patient 33 before Kapil’s blitzkrieg cameo took India home by five wickets.
Leeds 1986: India beat England by 279 runs and win series
Vengsarkar further displayed his mastery over the seam and swing of the home of cricket. He scored a fifty after India batted first but could only muster 272 after the batsmen failed to build on their starts. Dilley and Derek Pringle were tidy for the home side. Binny and Madan Lal waded through the English line-up with guile and swagger and the hosts were bundled out for a paltry 102. India’s batting card mirrored the way the innings unfolded at Lord’s. Vengsarkar was in imperious touch while John Lever broke the Indian top order’s back. Kapil, Madan lal and Binny lent Vengsarkar ample support down the order while he notched up another century. Given the task of chasing a near-impossible 407 to win, England’s batting was yet again tepid. This time around, spin came to the party through the wily Maninder Singh, and his four-wicket haul gave India a first-ever series win in England.
Leeds 2002: India hammer England by an innings and 46 runs
India’s batting superstars reigned supreme in this match. Yet again, the iconic Headingley hosted a win. After electing to bat first, Rahul Dravid displayed a spell-binding hundred—opposition skipper Nasser Hussain exclaimed that it was amongst the finest he had witnessed. Sachin Tendulkar then made mincemeat out of the bowling attack along with skipper Sourav Ganguly. The duo amassed a 249-run partnership and slammed centuries. Tendulkar fell seven short of a double hundred and India got to a humongous score of 628 in the first innings. Despite gutsy knock by Alec Stewart, spinners Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble swatted the middle order to make the hosts follow-on. England displayed an improved show with the bat, Hussian leading the charge with an aggressive century. Kumble though, had other ideas and India romped to victory by a whopping margin. Despite trailing 0-1 coming into the game, India’s senior figures simply outclassed the English.
Trent Bridge 2007: India cruise to victory by 7 wickets
The second-coming of Zaheer Khan was in full bloom. Captain Dravid won the toss and elected to bowl, and his troops were simply majestic on Day One. Dravid was smart with his rotation of bowlers and wickets fell at regular intervals. Zaheer stole the show with a four-wicket haul and England were skittled out for 198. India found unlikely heroes in openers Dinesh Karthik and Wasim Jaffer, who built a solid 147-run stand. The English attack was clobbered by Tendulkar, Ganguly and VVS Laxman, who gave India a commanding 283-run lead. Skipper Michael Vaughan waged a lone battle but his team failed to show a similar resolve. Zaheer was in full cry and picked up a five-for in the second essay. Chris Tremlett’s triple-strike had come a little too late as India chased down 73 to give India their first series win on English soil in a little more than two decades. Quite a bit of bad blood ensued during the match after England’s close-in fielders were found guilty of having chucked jellybeans on the pitch while Zaheer was batting — a decision they regretted hugely afterwards!
Lord’s 2014: India outplay England to win by 95 runs
Green was the word that was beaten to death on Day One. Three generations of cows could have binged on the thick layer of grass that covered the Lord’s wicket on Day One. With the bowlers expected to make inroads, Ajinkya Rahane elevated his profile as a Test player by staggering proportions. Rahane’s century was in the same league as Vengsarkar and Dravid’s. India got to a fighting score of 295. England responded in fine fashion through a stroke-filled ton from Gary Ballance. A fighting fifty down the order from Liam Plunkett got England to 319. The star of the show, however was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who finished with figures of six for 82. Grinding the bowlers was Indian top order’s theme in the second innings and Murali Vijay trudged along with a monumental 95. A stunning counter-attacking blitz from Ravindra Jadeja put India in pole position with England needing to chase 319. Ishant Sharma then ran in, skidded, probed and bounced out England for 223 on Day Five to reward India with their first overseas win in three years. Ishant recorded India’s best bowling figures in the land, finishing with figures of 7 for 74.
Complete coverage of India’s tour to England here
(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)