In cricket the ultimate challenge for most teams has been to defeat India at home. Cheered on by thousands of demanding fans and aided by spinning tracks — India have always made it a arduous challenge for anyone to beat them on their home turf.
As India take on England, the humiliation of last year will still be fresh.While the home team enters the series with history and conditions to their advantage, the England team are no pushovers and will be eager to prove themselves as one of the best test teams in world cricket.
With the first test to begin in Ahmedabad tomorrow, here’s looking back at some of the most memorable wins against the Poms in India.
India made history by recording their first Test victory, and they did it in style – winning by an innings margin. It was India’s 25th Test and victory was set up by left-arm spinner Vinoo Mankad, who bowled superbly in both innings, returning twelve wickets in the match for 108. His figures of 8 for 55 in the first innings and match figures are still the best for India against England.
There were four stumpings in the innings, and five in the match, for Khokhan Sen – all off Mankad – both records until Kiran More (thanks to Narendra Hirwani) bettered it in 1987-88 against the West Indies. Mankad added four more wickets in the second innings, and with Pankaj Roy (111) and Polly Umrigar (130) making hundreds, England were beaten by an innings and eight runs before tea on the fourth day.
70,000 fans sat in the open stands watching India registering a thrilling 28-run win. With the outcome unpredictable till the last ball, fans were kept on their toes. England had beaten India in the first Test, so this win meant even more. England bowled and fielded well in seamer-friendly conditions, to restrict India to 210. However, the visitors had no answer to the guile of India’s spinners as Bhagwat Chandrasekhar (5/65), Erapalli Prasanna (3/33) and Bishan Singh Bedi (2/59) sent them packing for just 174.
The hosts failed to capitalise on the lead and were bowled out for 155 in the second innings. Needing 191 runs to win, England had a disastrous start, losing four wickets for just 17 runs. There was brief resistance from the middle-order, as Mike Denness and Tony Greig added 97 runs for the fifth wicket.
Chandrasekhar got rid of dangerous Greig and wickets fell in a heap thereafter. At 138 for 9, it looked all over for England, but Chris Old and Bob Cottam refused to bow down without a fight. These two took the score to 160 at lunch on day five. The break proved a blessing for India as in his first over after it as Chandrasekhar had Cottam lbw, to bring his side an exciting victory. Bedi (5/63) and Chandrasekhar (4/42) were wreckers-in-chief for India.
India ended a run of 31 Tests without a win in a fast-moving and entertaining match. A young leg-spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan was making a comeback into Indian side after an uneventful debut Test 19 months ago. He dismissed opener Graeme Fowler by getting him caught and bowled off a full toss. This started a collapse from which England never recovered, seven wickets fell for 68 on a slow pitch of even bounce. England’s innings ended at 195.
India were in danger of losing their advantage when they lost their fifth wicket on 156. It could have been even worse, but Ravi Shastri survived a straightforward stumping chance at 38 off Edmonds. He and Kirmani then turned the game with an Indian seventh-wicket record stand of 235.
When they were out to successive balls, caught by Lamb at deep mid wicket, both had made maiden hundreds against England without offering a further chance. Kirmani, first out, hit ten fours in 319 minutes, Shastri seventeen fours and a 6 in 390 minutes, a composed innings that confirmed he could hold his Test place on his batting skill alone.
England, needing 270 to make India bat again, lost Robinson to a dubious lbw decision in the final 50 minutes of the third day’s play. India were kept waiting till 45 minutes after lunch on the fourth day for their next success, Fowler and Gatting adding 135 in 199 minutes on a slow, turning pitch. Then Fowler was lbw to Sivaramakrishnan before Gower was given out, caught at silly-point. Next over, when Lamb, groping for a leg break, was brilliantly stumped off Sivaramakrishnan, bowling round the wicket, England had slumped from 138 for one to 152 for four in 27 minutes. Cowdrey was then adjudged caught at silly-point.
Gatting, sensing an assault was needed for England to escape, scored 40 of his final 46 in fours. Then Sivaramakrishnan deceived him in the air, causing him to sky a catch to long-off, making England 222 for six. Gatting had batted for more than five hours for his 136 which included 21 fours. Pocock batted for 78 minutes on the last day and added 62 for the ninth wicket with Downton, but writing was on the wall. The innings ended at 317; giving Sivaramakrishnan the match figures of twelve for 181 – second best figures by an Indian bowler against England. He also became the youngest Indian to bag 10 wickets in a Test match.India needed 48 runs to win and they reached it at the cost of two openers.
Before the start of the series, the mood in the Indian camp was a bit sombre as India had returned from an unsuccessful tour of South Africa. They had, in fact, won only one of their last 25 Tests before taking on Graham Gooch-led England team. Mohammad Azharuddin’s captaincy and Indian team’s ability to win were both being questioned. Everything changed within a month. India had three spinners in their bowling attack – Anil Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan. England, quite inexplicably, chose to go with four-man pace attack. To balance things they chose Salisbury, who had only recently been elevated in status from net bowler to full member of the squad, at the expense of the two spinners, Tufnell and Emburey.
Azharuddin won the toss and had no hesitation in opting to bat first. India were in some kind of bother when the skipper came out to bat, having lost three wickets with only 93 runs on the board. By the time he was dismissed, England were out of the contest. Azharuddin produced an innings of masterful stroke-play matched with watchful defence, scoring 182 runs off just 197 balls.
England needed 172 to avoid the follow-on, but fell nine-runs short. Kapil Dev and Manoj Prabhakar bowled first 12 overs. It was spinners’ show thereafter. The England batsmen were flummoxed by the turning ball delivered flat and at pace by Kumble and Raju and into the rough outside off stump by Chauhan. They collapsed to 88 for five at the end of the second day and eventually to 163 all out. All three spinners took three wickets each.
Gooch and Stewart gave England a solid start in the second innings, but Gooch was dismissed in weird circumstances. He momentarily lifted his back foot from the batting crease and More did not waste any time in stumping him. Thereafter Gatting, returning to Test cricket after his ban for touring South Africa, held out doggedly. He made good use of the sweep shot, but the very shot brought his downfall as well. With only 16 short of making India bat again, Gatting attempted to sweep a wider delivery from Chauhan and dragged the ball on to his stumps.
There were some useful contributions from the remaining batsmen, but no one could go beyond 26. India were left to score 79 runs to win. They ended day four with 36 for no loss. Around 25,000 spectators assembled on the final morning to watch India score the last 43 runs required for victory. India eventually won by eight wickets. The victory was celebrated Calcutta-style — thunder-flashes, firecrackers and all. India won the next two Tests quite comprehensively as well, riding on their spinners’ success.
Two weeks after the terrorist attack on Mumbai, India featured in a classic humdinger, culminating into the highest successful fourth innings chase in the sub-continent. The match started under high security. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook gave England a solid start. They were 164 for one at tea on the first day before Zaheer Khan began their demise. Bowling with lot of zeal and enthusiasm, Zaheer sent down 48 overs, conceded only 81 runs and took five wickets. It was mainly because of him that England’s innings ended at 316 when 400-plus looked inevitable.
However, the Indian innings was also jolted. Graeme Swann,who became the second bowler — after fellow countryman Richard Johnson to take two wickets in his first over of Test cricket, dismissed Gautam Gambhir and Rahul Dravid. VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar were caught and bowled in successive overs and soon India were 102 for five. MS Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh saved India the blushes, but a lead of 75 looked decisive on a wearing track.
Strauss came to England’s rescue for the second time in the match as the visitors were reeling at 43 for three. He put on 214 runs with Collingwood for the fourth wicket — setting a new record of highest fourth-wicket partnership for England in the sub-continent; and became the first England batsman to score hundreds in both innings of a Test on Indian soil; England could have done with some more aggression, but they slowed down on the fourth day. Only 57 runs came in 22.5 overs in the second session. When Kevin Pietersen declared the innings, India were left with a mammoth target of 387 runs in a possible 126 overs.
Sehwag had crossed 50 on only three occasions out of 20 times he had batted in the fourth innings of a Test by then, but he was in a different mood. He launched such a severe assault on England bowlers that Pietersen was forced to set a defensive field after just half an hour. But Sehwag continued batting as only he can do. By the time he got out after scoring 83 from 68 balls with 11 fours and four sixes, he had put India in a dominating position.
India needed 256 on the final day and they had plenty of time to overhaul the target. England got rid of Dravid and Gambhir before lunch on the fifth day and after lunch, when Laxman fell, India were 224 for four. One more wicket and England would have fancied their chances of wrapping up the innings. But this was not to be. In his illustrious career, Tendulkar had never scored a hundred in the fourth innings for a winning cause. This time, the stage was set for him to fill in that gap.
Soon, he was milking the England bowling at will. Giving him company at the other end was Yuvraj Singh. These two took the game away from England without any fuss – first by rotating the strike for readily available singles and then by launching into the England bowling attack. Both Sachin’s hundred and India’s win came with the same shot. It was truly a remarkable innings from the maestro, who rated it among one of his best.