India is all set to host England in a four-match Test series, starting with the Chennai Test on 5th February. For Virat Kohli’s men, this will be their first home assignment after the long break due to COVID-19. The No 1 ranked Test side will be pumped up after successfully defending the Border Gavaskar Trophy, which ended with their historic Gabba triumph.
England, who suffered a 0-4 mauling at the hands of India in their last tour (2016/17), will once again start as underdogs.
While the Englishmen haven’t had much success on Indian soil, they have played some remarkable, career-defining knocks that will be cherished by their fans forever. Ahead of the Test series, we take a look at 10 such knocks by England batsman over the years:
1. Joe Root’s 124 (2016/17)
England were outplayed in their last India tour and suffered a 0-4 drubbing in the five-match series. The only Test which was fiercely fought was the first, which ended in a draw.
After opting to bat, England posted a mammoth first innings total of 537, courtesy centuries from Ben Stokes (128), Joe Root (124), Moeen Ali (117).
Moeen and Stokes are naturally attacking batsmen. However, in this Test, it was Root who scored at a much quicker pace than the two left-handers. And yet, the right-hander didn’t take risks as most of his shots were well controlled and played along the ground. Root, with a strike rate of 68.89, struck 11 fours and a maximum in his knock, the highlight being his cover drives against the spinners.
For India, centuries from Murali Vijay (126) and Cheteshwar Pujara (124) guided them to 488.
The visitors, led by Alastair Cook’s 130, declared their second innings at 260/3, which meant a target of 310 runs for the hosts. Eventually, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja, unbeaten on 49 and 32 respectively, held their ground as the hosts salvaged a draw.
2. Kevin Pietersen's 186 (2012/13)
England did not start the 2012/13 series in India the way they would have liked. However, after suffering a nine-wicket drubbing in the opening Test at Ahmedabad, they bounced back in emphatic fashion, claiming a 10-wicket win in the Mumbai Test.
India, on winning the toss in the second Test, opted to bat and set a first innings total of 327, thanks to Cheteshwar Pujara (135) and Ravichandran Ashwin (68). Spinners Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann were too hot to handle for the hosts and picked up five and four wickets respectively.
In reply, England lost two wickets in quick succession, but skipper and opening batsman Alastair Cook provided some resistance with his century (122).
But it was No 4 batsman Kevin Pietersen, who hogged the limelight with his 186-run knock, which came at a strike rate of 79.83, much quicker than Cook’s strike rate of 45.19. The flamboyant right-hander played shots all around the park, striking 20 boundaries and four sixes. With a valuable 86-run lead, the hosts wasted little time and dismissed India for 142. Monty and Swann were at it once again, claming six and four wickets respectively. A target of 58 wasn’t going to bother the visitors, and as expected, they sealed a memorable 10-wicket win.
3. Alastair Cook's 190 (2012/13)
Both sides headed into the third Test with the series level at 1-1. The hosts still had no answer to Monty, who claimed a four-for, as they were bundled out for 316 in the first innings.
Cook had already shown the temperament to bat through extended periods and struck a fine century in the second Test. He took it up a notch higher in this Test, almost claiming a double hundred, where no batsmen managed to reach the triple figures. The left-hander consumed as many as 377 deliveries for his 190, which included 23 fours and two maximums.
Led by Cook’s 190 alongside three fifties from Compton, Jonathan Trott and Pietersen, England took a massive 207-run lead. India were on the backfoot in the second innings and could only manage an excess of 41 runs, resulting in a seven-wicket win for England.
4. Paul Collingwood's 134 (2005/06)
In the opening Test in 2006, England lost almost half their batting line-up, at 136/4, but No 5 batsman Paul Collingwood battled it out and struck a brilliant unbeaten century (134*), which included 13 fours and four sixes. Cook (60) and Flintoff (43) played handy knocks but Collingwood, who consumed 252 deliveries, was the glue around whom the batting line up revolved. After being dismissed for 393 in their first innings, England, led by Matthew Hoggard (6/57), dismissed India for 323.
Even in the second essay, Cook (104*) and Collingwood (36*) took responsibility in their hands as the visitors set a competitive target of 368. Meanwhile, for India, Jaffer (100) and Dravid (71) played handy knocks. Post their departure, the hosts avoided any risks and were happy to settle for a draw. The series too, was drawn as India and England claimed one win apiece in the final two Tests.
5. Andrew Strauss' 128 (2005/06)
In 2006, India took a 1-0 lead in the three-match series with a nine-wicket win in the second Test. The hosts, led by skipper Rahul Dravid, were favourites to final Test. However, England, despite missing six fronline players, sealed a memorable series-levelling win by 212 runs.
After being asked to bat, England posted 400 runs on the board, with Andrew Strauss top-scoring with a fine century (128).
On a Mumbai pitch where most batsmen, barring Owais Shah (88) and Andrew Flintoff (50), struggled for runs, Strauss showed his class. The left-hander struck 17 fours and a maximum, the highlight being his backfoot play against spinners Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble.
In reply, James Anderson starred with a four-for as the visitors were bundled out for 279. Notably, he effected the run out of top-scorer MS Dhoni and picked up the prized scalp of Dravid (52).
India put on a better bowling performance in the second innings, dismissing England for 191. And requiring 313 for a win, the hosts were skittled out for 100 in the face of superb bowling by Shaun Udal (4/14) and Flintoff (3/14).
While Strauss was the lone centurion in the Test, Flintoff bagged the Player of the Match and Player of Series for his all-round effort.
6. Ian Botham's 114 (1979/80)
India were dismissed for 242 in the first innings after opting to bat. No batsman failed to reach the 50-run mark as Ian Botham, the pick of the English bowlers, finished with figures of 6/58.
The Test, indeed, belonged to Botham, who got in the act once again, slamming a superb century at a time when none of the batsmen from his side managed to score a fifty. Notably, Botham’s 114 also came at a quick pace. He had a strike rate of 79.17, a rare sight as far as batting in the 1980’s concerned. Botham’s knock, studded with 17 fours, helped the victors gain a 54-run lead.
The Botham show wasn’t over yet as he produced even better bowling figures (7/48) in the second essay as India were bundled out for a paltry 149. Barring Dilip Vengasarkar, the right-arm seamer accounted for the entire top and middle order. England eventually chased India’s meagre target of 96 with 10 wickets in hand.
7. Dennis Amiss 179 (1976/77)
England thrashed India by an innings and 25 runs in the first Test of their 1976/77 tour. The five-match series followed a similar pattern in the remaining Tests as England clinched the series 3-1.
Led by Dennis Amiss’ 179 along with handy contributions from Alan Knott (75) and John Lever (53), England posted 381 on the board. At a time when life wasn’t easy for most batsman at the crease, Amiss looked a class apart. Consuming as many as 397 balls, the centurion struck 22 fours and a maximum.
In reply, India were bundled out for a paltry 122, thanks to John Lever, who bowled a clinical spell of 7/46. The follow-on was enforced, and although India batted slightly better in the second essay where they scored 234, it wasn’t enough. England batters didn’t have to walk out to the crease in second innings, resulting in a humiliating defeat for the hosts.
8. Ken Barrington's 172 (1961/62)
England lost the five-match series in 1961/62 with a 2-0 scoreline. And the margin of the series loss could have been far worse had Ken Barrington not come to their rescue on multiple occasions.
With three centuries and a fifty, the right-hander amassed 594 runs in the series, the most by an any English batsman in India till date. His best, however, came in the second Test at Kanpur, where India, led by Polly Umrigar’s 147, declared at 467/8 in the first innings. The visitors were in a precarious position after being bundled out for 244, thanks to Subhash Gupte, who claimed a five-wicket haul.
Following on, with a 223-run lead ahead of them, England finished the Test at 497/5. Led by Barrington (172 off 406 balls), who struck 26 fours, and handy centuries from Geoff Pullar (119 off 313 balls) and Ted Dexter (126* off 256 balls), the visitors salvaged a famous draw.
9. Mike Gatting's 207 (1984/85)
England’s tour of India in 1984/85 was evenly poised, with a win apiece in the first two Tests and a draw in the third. But the visitors took a lead in the fourth Test at Chennai with a nine-wicket win.
Half centuries from Mohinder Amarnath (78) and Kapil Dev (58) could only take India as far as 272. Neil Foster, the pick of the English bowlers, claimed a six-for.
In reply, opener Graeme Fowler tired the Indian bowlers, scoring a brilliant double ton (201 off 409 balls). Still, Fowler didn’t finish as the top-scorer as No 3 batsman Mike Gatting struck a much quicker double ton (207 off 309 balls). Eventually, the visitors posted a mammoth (652/7 declared), gaining a sizeable lead of 380.
India put on a much better show in the second innings but 412 is all they could manage, courtesy Mohammed Azharuddin’s 105 and Amarnath’s 95. Foster once again came to England’s rescue, claiming a five-for and setting up an easy chase of 33.
Leading England’s batting line-up, Gatting finished with a mind-boggling average of 95.83 in their 2-1 series win.
10. Colin Cowdrey's 151 (1963/64)
England’s Test tour of India in 1964 was a unique affair as all five matches ended in a draw. From the visitors’ perspective, it was a memorable tour for Colin Cowdrey, who did not feature in the first two Tests but struck two centuries in the remaining tour.
After opting to bat, India managed 344 in the first innings, largely thanks to Hanumant Singh’s 105. In reply, England’s Brian Bolus (58) and Peter Parfitt (67) looked good but the best was yet to come for England.
Coming into the fourth Test on the back of a ton, Cowdrey made the most of his fine form and stuck a brilliant 151, a knock studded with 23 fours and a maximum.
England’s first innings total of 451 meant a 107-run lead but Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi’s 203* and Chandu Borde’s 67* halted visitors’ victory march post a century by Budhi Kunderan, resulting in a draw.
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England lost the second Test by 317 runs as India levelled the series 1-1.
Even as former England captains like Michael Vaughan and Andrew Strauss slammed the pitch after the third Test ended inside two days, skipper Joe Root was more circumspect and measured in his view of the pitch
While India went with three spinners, England opted for just one in Jack Leach for the day-night pink ball Test.