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Six unforgettable Tests for India on English soil

Bhagwat Chandrasekhar (left) and Indian captain Ajit Wadekar (in blazer) come out in the dressing room balcony at The Oval to acknowledge the cheering of the Indian supporters after India won the Test to register its first away-series win in England © Getty Images

By Navneet Mundhra

India played it’s first-ever Test match at Lord’s, England, way back in 1932. And it will be at Lord’s again, on July 21, 2011, the two nations will meet in the first of a four-Test series which will be the 100th Test between the two nations and also the 2000th Test played in the history of the game.

India made a great impression on their Test debut by having England reeling at 19 for the loss of openers Herbert Sutcliffe, Percy Holmes and one-drop Frank Wooley. It was an innings in which only Douglas Jardine and Les Ames offered any meaningful resistance to the Indian new ball attack of Mohammad Nissar – he ended the innings with figures of five for 93 – and Lala Amar Singh as England were all out for 259.

CB Fry opined, Nissar was faster than Harold Larwood – Jardine’s tormentor-in-chief in the Bodyline series six months later. Nissar clean bowled openers Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe who only a few days earlier had established a world record 555 runs for the first wicket. The great Wally Hammond lavished praise on Nissar’s new ball partner by saying, “Amar Singh came off the pitch like the crack of doom.”

Nissar topped the bowling averages for the tour while Amar Singh captured 111 wickets – the highest on the tour. “Amar Singh was the best bowler seen in England since the War,” praised Wisden. Sadly, he was just 29 when he died. 

Below are some of India’s great moments in England: 

1. The Oval, 3rd Test, 1971 – India won by 4 wickets

Bhagwat Chandrasekhar ripped through England second innings by capturing six for 38 runs to bowl out the home team for 101 – the last ten wickets crashing for 77 runs.

Captain Ajit Wadekar, Dilip Sardesai and Gundappa Viswanath ensured that India reached their target of 173 runs with meaningful contributions before Abid Ali square-cut Brian Luckhurst to the boundary to end England’s home role.

The magnitude of the victory can be gauged by the fact that out of 21 Tests played by India in England till then, 15 had been lost and six had drawn. Over the past three tours, eleven out of 12 Tests had been lost. It was India’s first Test and series victory on English soil. In the process India brought an end to England’s record run of 26 Tests without defeat.

The Indian team was given an unforgettable welcome in plush open cars after landing at Mumbai’s Santacruz Airport. Right through the journey from the suburbs to South Mumbai, millions thronged the streets and showered the team with rose petals.

Brief Scores: England 355 (Alan Knott 90, John Jameson 82; Eknath Solkar 3 for 28, Srinivas Venkataraghavan 2 for 62) & 101 (Brian Luckhurst 33; Bhagwat Chandrasekhar 6 for 38) lost to India 284 (Farokh Engineer 59, Dilip Sardesai 54; Ray Illingworth 5 for 70, John Snow 2 for 68) & 174 for 6 (Ajit Wadekar 45, Dilip Sardesai 40; Derek Underwood 3 for 72) by 6 wickets.

2. The Oval, 4th Test, 1979 – Match drawn

England set India a mammoth target of 438 to win the Test. The stage was set for Sunil Gavaskar to carve out what was one of the greatest fourth innings knock in the history of Test cricket. Right through his career, Gavaskar had propped the Indian batting, but his effort at The Oval was mindboggling. Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan set the tone for the chase by adding 213 runs for the first-wicket partnership before Bob Willis had Chauhan caught by Ian Botham.

Dilip Vengsarkar came in at one-drop and sustained the momentum and India were nicely placed to win the Test at 328 for one when the 20 mandatory overs began. Vengsarkar was out at 366 and out came Kapil Dev – promoted in the order. But Kapil was out for a duck. Botham snared Gavaskar and ran through Indian middle-order castling three crucial wickets. India needed 15 runs in the last over but just managed six runs and finished at 429 for eight. The Indian run-chase was scuttled by some contentious umpiring decisions.

Gavaskar’s epic 221 fell two short of equalling the highest fourth innings score in Test cricket – “Black Bradman” George Headley’s 223 against England at Sabina Park way back in 1930.

Brief Scores: England 305 (Graham Gooch 79,Peter Wiley 52; Srinivas Venkataraghavan 3 for 53, Kapil Dev 3 for 83) & 334 (Geoff Boycott 125, David Bairstow 59; Karsan Ghavri 3 for 72) drew with India 202 (Gundappa Viswanath 62, Yajurvindra Singh 43*; Ian Botham 4 for 63, Mike Hendrik 3 for 38) & 429 for 8 (Sunil Gavaskar 221, Chetan Chauhan 80; Ian Botham 3 for 97)

3. Lord’s, 1st Test, 1986 – India won by 5 wickets

This remains India’s solitary Test win at the Mecca of cricket. The Test is famously remembered till date for Dilip Vengsarkar’s achievement in becoming the first overseas batsman to score three hundreds at Lord’s. His classy unbeaten 126, which gave India al lead of 47 runs, followed Chetan Sharma’s five-for in the England first innings.

Kapil Dev ran through the top order in the England second innings and restricted them to modest 180 runs. India needed 134 runs which they reached after surviving a few hiccups.

Brief Scores: England 294 (Graham Gooch 114, Derek Pringle 63; Chetan Sharma 5 for 64, Roger Binny 3 for 55) & 180 (Mike Gatting 40, Allan Lamb 39; Kapil Dev 4 for 54, Maninder Singh 3 for 9) lost to India 341 (Dilip Vengsarkar 126*, Mohinder Amarnath 69; Graham Dilley 4 for 146, Derek Pringle 3 for 58) & 136 for 5 (Dilip Vengsarkar 33, Graham Dilley 2 for 28) by 5 wickets.

4. Headingley, Leeds, 2nd Test, 1986 – India won by 279 runs

This was a befitting encore to India’s glory in the previous Test at Lord’s. After putting on 272 runs on the board in its first innings, India blew England away for 102, courtesy Roger Binny and Madan Lal’s devastating spells of bowling. Dilip Vengsarkar yet again feasted on the English attack with an unbeaten 102 runs. Set a target of 408, England were bowled out for 128 runs early on the fourth day as India took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.

Brief Scores: India 272 (Dilip Vengsarkar 61, Sunil Gavaskar 35; Derek Pringle 3 for 47, Graham Dilley 3 for 54) & 237 (Dilip Vengsarkar 102*, Kapil Dev 31; John Lever 4 for 64, Derek Pringle 4 for 74) bt England 102 (Bill Athley 32; Roger Binny 5 for 40, Madan Lal 3 for 18) & 128 ( Mike Gatting 31*; Maninder Singh 4 for 26) by 279 runs.

5. Headingley, Leeds, 3rd Test, 2002 – India won by an innings and 46 runs

India went into the Test 0-1 down in the series.

Sourav Ganguly won the toss and decided to bat first, a brave decision given the reputation of Headingley as a seamer-friendly wicket. His ploy of playing Sanjay Bangar as an opener proved out to be a master stroke. Bangar not only saw off the new ball but he also formed a significant second-wicket partnership of 170 runs with Rahul Dravid.

Dravid conjured up magnificent 148 which, Nasser Hussain said was one of the finest he had seen. Sachin Tendulkar scored his 30th Test hundred (193) and Ganguly 128. India amassed mammoth 628 before declaring the innings. It was their highest score against England.

Despite Nasser Hussain’s hundred, England could not prevent India from registering an emphatic victory.

Brief Scores: India 628 for 8 dec (Sachin Tendulkar 193, Rahul Dravid 148; Andy Caddick 3 for 150) bt England 273 (Alec Stewart 78, Michael Vaughan 61; Harbhajan Singh 3 for 40, Anil Kumble 3 for 93) & 309 (Nasser Hussain 110; Anil Kumble 4 for 66) by an innings and 46 runs.

6. Trent Bridge, 2nd Test, 2007 – India won by 7 wickets

India had not won a Test series in England in the last 21 years.

After Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble combined to dismiss England for 198, India posted a healthy 481 runs – an innings in which almost all the Indian batsman contributing substantially. Sachin Tendulkar top scored with 91 runs before becoming a victim of a dubious lbw decision by Simon Taufel.

The English players tried to hassle Zaheer when he came to bat by throwing ‘jelly beans’ on the pitch. This annoyed him greatly and a fired-up Zaheer demolished English side in the 2nd innings with five-for 75 to finish the Test with nine for 134 and bag the Man of the Match award.

India did not have any trouble knocking off the 73 for victory and take a 1-0 lead in the series.

This was India’s 200th away Test which fetched them their 29th overseas win.

Brief Scores: England 198 (Alastair Cook 43, Ian Bell 31; Zaheer Khan 4 for 59, Anil Kumble 3 for 32) & 355 (Michael Vaughan 124, Paul Collingwood 63, Andrew Strauss 55; Zaheer Khan 5 for 75, Anil Kumble 3 for 104) lost to India 481 (Sachin Tendulkar 91, Dinesh Karthik 77, Sourav Ganguly 79, Wasim Jaffer 62, VVS Laxman 54; Monty Panesar 4 for 101) &  73 for 3 ( Dinesh Karthik 22; Chris Tremlett 3 for 12) by 7 wickets.

(Navneet Mundhra is a dreamer who has no delusion of grandeur about himself. He is an eternal learner brimming with passion and compassion, a maverick who swears by perfection and integrity and an avid reader, devout philharmonic, die hard movie buff and a passionate writer)

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