The stage is perfectly set for an enthralling contest between India and England. After the thrashing the Indians got in England last year — where they lost not only their number one Test ranking, but also suffered the humiliation of a 4-0 drubbing, they will be eager to return the favours. Playing India in India has never been easy for any team but England has done exceptionally well in India - winning nearly as many tests and drawing the majority.
Here are a few statistics that should perk your interest in the Test series.
While series results are crucial, cricket depends a lot on individual performances. While the current English team boasts of some fine batsmen, here are those from the past who have been England’s star performers on Indian soil.
Only seven of Botham’s 102 Tests were against India in India. He aggregated 554 runs at an average of 61.56 and claimed 30 wickets at 25.53 in those seven. The Mumbai Test in 1979-80 – arranged to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the BCCI – was turned on its head by the extraordinary all-round performance by Botham, who performed the unprecedented feat of scoring a century and capturing thirteen wickets in one Test.
The Indians, jaded after playing sixteen Tests in the past seven months, were bowled out in less than a day for 242, Botham taking six for 58 and Taylor taking seven catches. India would have fared even worse but for a gallant resistance from the lower order of their batting.
England were soon 58 for five and looked most unlikely to match India's score. But Botham, batting for 206 minutes and hitting 17 fours, scored 114 in an innings which was responsible and yet not lacking in enterprise. His stand of 171 with Taylor was England's best-ever sixth-wicket partnership against India.
But it could have been cut short at only 85 when umpire Hanumantha Rao upheld an appeal against Taylor for caught behind off Kapil Dev. Taylor hesitated and protested at the decision. Viswanath, the Indian captain, who was fielding at first slip, was as certain as the batsman that there had been no contact and persuaded the umpire to rescind his verdict.
In India’s second innings, Botham once again ran through the Indian batting, picking up 7 for 48. England eventually reached the winning target of 96 runs without losing a wicket. Botham became the first and only player to score a century and take ten or more wickets in the same Test.
Even though he could not repeat this all-round performance in his next six Tests on Indian soil, he became (and still remains) the only player to score 500 runs and take 25 wickets against India in India.
With 862 runs in 13 Tests (avg 50.71), Gatting remains the highest run-scorer for England on Indian soil. Gatting had a pretty ordinary debut series in India in 1981-82 where he could score only 68 runs in 6 outings, but he went on to play a significant role in England’s 2-1 series win in 1984-85. Gatting scored 15 and 136 in the first Test at Mumbai that England eventually lost as Laxman Sivaramakrishnan bundled out the English side with a 12 wicket match haul.
England won the second Test at Delhi by 8 wickets to level the series and Gatting was there at the crease when the winning runs were scored. India had an upper hand in the third Test at Kolkata but that match ended in a draw. However, it was Gatting who was the architect of England’s win in the Chennai Test that followed. His second wicket partnership of 241 runs with Graeme Fowler — who made 201 — set the tone for England. Gatting went on to score 207 runs off 309 balls to take England to their highest total on Indian soil.
Gatting total was also the highest score by an Englishman in India, and it set up an eventual nine-wicket victory. It gave England a 2-1 lead, which they held onto to become the first side to win a series in India from behind.
Gatting again visitedIndiain 1992-93, but he was past his prime by then. Although he was the second highest scorer after Graeme Hick with 219 runs in 6 innings, the spin duo of Rajesh Chauhan and Venkatapathy Raju got the better of him and Gatting could not stop India from registering a 3-0 win.
The pace bowler played seven of his 21 matches in India. On his Test debut, Lever returned with magical figures of 7 for 46 and 3 for 24 at Delhi in 1976-77 – then the best figures by an England bowler on debut. Lever kept on causing havoc with his left-arm bowling, swinging the ball on the pitches of Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, where movement is a rarity. In five Test series, Lever ended with 26 wickets at an average of 14.61.
However, Lever’s copybook was blotted when Indian skipper Bishan Singh Bedi accused Lever of using unfair means to get the unusual swing. The English paceman's habit of rubbing the ball over his eyebrows every now and then was also noticed. Lever said gauze fixed above his eyebrows were to prevent sweat from getting into his eyes, but Bedi was adamant. The incident resulted in an outcry and prompted the BCCI to initially announce that the ball and the gauze would be submitted to a lab in Madras for analysis. The results never saw the light of day and the matter was hushed up by the Board in order not to damage relations with England.
Underwood — described by many batsmen of his era as the most unplayable bowler - played 16 Tests in India between December 1972 and February 1982 and took 54 wickets at an average of 26.52. His tally included 12 dismissals of Sunil Gavaskar. On three occasions he caught Gavaskar off his own bowling.
In 1976-77 series Underwood took 29 wickets at an average of 17.55 helping England to a 3-1 series win. Underwood’s tally of 54 wickets on Indian soil is the highest for any overseas bowler in India.
In his debut series in 2005-06, Strauss showed great character in helping England level the series 1-1 by scoring 128 in the first innings of the Mumbai Test. This was England’s first win in a Test in India in more than 21 years.
In his next Test – at Chennai in 2008-09, Strauss once again put England in a great position to force a win by scoring centuries in both innings of the Test (123 and 108) before India came from behind to register one of the most astonishing wins. Strauss thus became the first and only England batsman to score centuries in both innings of a Test on Indian soil. His match aggregate of 231 runs is also the highest for an Englishman in India. Add to that his three hundreds, which are the most for an Englishman in India, along with Ken Barrington.