Sachin Tendulkar walks back after being dismissed on the final day of the opening Test between England and India at Lord's. England won the Test match by 196 runs © Getty Images
Sachin Tendulkar walks back after being dismissed on the final day of the opening Test between England and India at Lord’s. England won the Test match by 196 runs © Getty Images

 

By Dileep V

 

India lived up to its unedifying image of being poor starters by losing the first Test against England at Lord’s.

 

There have been instances of the team bouncing back, either winning or drawing the series, but such instances have been far and few – especially outside India.

 

It’s not that India can’t make a comeback in the series; they have done that in the past. That they have done it only 12 times in 68 series played till date makes the task more difficult. Add a filter of away series and we find the comeback has happened only four times. But what cannot be ignored is the fact two of the comebacks has been achieved in the past year or so.

 

Let us look at the instances where India has bounced back after losing the first Test, not necessarily the opening Test of the series.

 

The Test win which ultimately resulted in the series draw, was also India’s first Test victory. The match played at MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai witnessed the exploits of Vinoo Mankad, who took 12 wickets to give India innings victory.

 

Other noteworthy performance include India’s victory against Pakistan at Kotla where Anil Kumble’s perfect all 10 wickets in the second Innings won India the Test, after Pakistan had won a close contest in Chennai.

 

Series comebacks – drawn or won – at home after losing first

 

Year Opposition Series scoreline Series Result Captain
1951/52 England          1-1 Drawn V Hazare
1964 Australia          1-1 Drawn M A K Pataudi
1972/73 England          2-1 Won A Wadekar
1987/88 West Indies          1-1 Drawn D Vengsarkar/R Shastri
1999 Pakistan          1-1 Drawn M Azharuddin
2001 Australia          2-1 Won S Ganguly
2008 South Africa          1-1 Drawn A Kumble/MS Dhoni
2010 South Africa          1-1 Drawn MS Dhoni

 

 

 

 

 

 

That Indians are poor travellers is confirmed by the fact that they have won few series outside India. Most of them have come in the recent past which has coincided with the team’s rise to the No 1 slot in the World.

 

The 1981 series against Australia was marred by the Sunil Gavaskar threat to concede the Melbourne Test. But it’s remembered positively for India defending a smallish total of 143, with Kapil Dev battling pain to take five wickets.

 

Series comebacks away after losing first

 

Year Opposition Series scoreline Series Result Captain
1981 Australia           1-1 Drawn S Gavaskar
2002 England           1-1 Drawn S Ganguly
2010 Sri Lanka           1-1 Drawn MS Dhoni
2010/11 South Africa           1-1 Drawn MS Dhoni

 

There have also been instances of India drawing first blood only to fizzle out in the end.

 

The Australia tour of 2003-04 saw India winning the second Test at Adelaide only to lose the next one to draw the series 1-1.

 

On the 2002 tour of the West Indies, India took a 1-0 lead but went on to lose the series 1-2.

 

In the series against Sri Lanka in 2010 and South Africa in 2011, India made a comeback to level the series.

 

Will the No 1 team in the world justify its tag as champions and bounce back in the ongoing series?

 

(Dileep.V is a Scouser fan, Sports freak, Movie buff, Laggard Quizzer and dreams of setting foot on Anfield one day)