When Virat Kohli and Co begin their another attempt to win a Test series in England, they will have a tough baggage on their shoulders. In 2011 and 2014, the visitors went through a serious beating at hands of England. A lot has changed since then. That was MS Dhoni's India and this Virat Kohli's team. The two are poles apart in their approaches to captaincy.
If we look back at India's best victories in England, we will know that every time a bowler or bowlers shone, India won or came close to victory.
Here is a list of some of the best spells bowled by the Indian bowlers in Tests in England over the years:
Ishant Sharma's seven-wicket haul at Lord's
With a good amount of experience behind his back, Ishant was the key bowler for India on the England tour in 2014. However, his form was questioned by the critics in the first Test at Trent Bridge where he gave four runs per over, ending up as the bowler with the highest econony rate for India in that match. He did take three wickets in the first innings but after having bowled 38 overs.
When the second Test at Lord's begun, the onus was on Ishant again. India had drawn the first Test on the back of good batting performance but like 2011, it appeared as if Indian bowling will fall apart this time around as well. Ishant was the first change bowler for India as he lacked the ability to swing the ball. Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar shared the new ball and did a decent job. Bhuvneshwar went on to pick six wickets in first innings in what was his maiden Test, giving India a huge boost in the match. Ishant, on the other hand, had gone wicket-less after bowling 24 overs. He was completely down on confidence.
There was one chance still left for Ishant. England came out to bat, needing 318 to win. Ishant came out to bowl with an intent to prove a thing or two. The hunger meant he was going to eat out more than half of the English batting line-up himself. He began the hunt with the wicket of Ian Bell, the ball nipped in to Bell and did not bounce as much as he expected. The off and middle stumps were ripped.
In his next over, Ishant came around the wicket to Alastair Cook and took the ball away from him after pitching it. Cook nicked it to Dhoni. This was a start of a splendid spell of bowling. By then Dhoni had confidence in Ishant and despite him going through a lull period after those two strike. He gave Ishant the ball after Tea and the speedster came back and started bowling bouncers, another trap where English got stuck in. Later on in the press conference, Dhoni talked of how badly he wanted Ishant to bowl those bouncers and how the bowler was not party to the idea. Eventually, India bowled out England for 223 and Ishant had alone taken seven of those wickets.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar's six-wicket haul at Lord's, 2014
It had just been a year and a half since Bhuvneshwar Kumar's ODI debut. Selectors were intelligent enough to know what he was capable of doing in windy conditions of England with his in-swings and out-swings.
Bhuvneshwar began the tour on a strong note, taking a fifer in the first Test at Trent Bridge but a bigger outing awaited him. In the next Test at Lord's, he was to reveal his best. This was the Bhuvneshwar, who did not clock 140ks but even in 130s, his swing was enough to curtail the England batsmen to 319 in the first innings. He got six wickets, including the top order wickets- Alastair Cook, Sam Robson, Gary Ballance and Ian Bell. But the wicket that made all jaws drop at Lord's was the one of Ben Stokes. Coming from over the wicket, Bhuvneshwar pitched the ball up, asking Stokes to lean forward. It was pitched on the middle-leg stump line and then shaped just a little away to trump Stokes. The ball hit the top of off-stump and Stokes did not even look back to see what just happened.
Zaheer Khan's nine wickets at Trent Bridge, 2007
Zaheer running to bowl in England is a sight many of his fans still miss. The 2007 tour of England reaped sweet fruits for India as they won a series there after a gap of 21 years. Not to forget that rain had bailed India out of jail in the first Test when England looked set to take a 1-0 lead.
The visitors reached Nottingham with a mindset of winning at any cost. And it was Zaheer who led from the front in that Test. He took four wickets to dismantle England, bowling them out for a mere 198 in the first innings.
India batted superbly when their turn came and posted a massive lead on the hosts. It gave the bowlers freedom to bowl with Zaheer roaring again, this time with a point to prove. He had been sledged heavily by England while batting. If he is to be believed, jelly beans were thrown at him. Zaheer had to throw something back at the visitors, he chose his skills with the ball to be his spearheads. He first removed Cook and just when the partnership between Andrew Strauss and Michael Vaughan was beginning to look threatening, he sent the left-handed opening batsman back to the dressing room. It was followed up by a timely wicket of Vaughan who had scored a century and was running away with the game. Zaheer struck in that spell every time an English bastman looked settled. With the support of Anil Kumble and RP Singh, Zaheer helped India bowl England out for 355. India chased down the 73 runs to take the 1-0 lead in the series. The third Test was drawn which meant India won a Test series in England after 1986.
Kapil Dev's five-wicket haul at Lord's, 1982
The Indian bowling attack on the 1982 tour was one of the weakest ones to visit England. Apart from Kapil Dev and Madan Lal, there was no big name in the squad. In the first Test at Lord's, India's lack of experience in bowling department hurt them. One player that stood out was once again Kapil Dev.
England opted to bat first after winning the toss. They had expected runs on the pitch but what they did not expect was how Kapil was going to wreck through their top order. Kapil removed Geoff Cook for just five, followed it up with wickets of Chris Tavare and Allan Lamb. Before England could see what just happened, they were 37 for 3. However, apart from Kapil, rest of the bowlers were not up to the mark. Whenever the ball was in the hands of Kapil, a wicket was not far away. A tired Kapil bowled 43 overs in that innings, picking up five wickets. Madan Lal ripped through the tail to pick three wickets but it came too late in the innings. By then England had scored 433.
England's batting disappointed in the first innings as the visitors were bowled out for 128. England asked them to follow on. Dilip Vengsarkar played one of the best and bravest innings to salvage some respect but it could not evade an embarrassing loss. However, Kapil's stint the ball still remains a hallmark event of the series.
BS Chandrasekhar's six-wicket haul at Kennington Oval, 1971
A Test match to remember forever for India. This was the first time since the visitors had got independence from the British that they went on win a Test match and series in England. The history was made possible courtesy of a bowling spell by BS Chandrasekhar in second innings of the third Test.
With the deficit of 73 runs, the only chance remaining for India in the match was to bowl England out cheaply in the second innings. But was it possible? Who would raise his hand and say, 'England can be bowled out cheaply'. Chandrasekhar turned out to be that man. He was a quiet cricketer from Karnataka who bowled leg-spin. After the end of the match, England knew him better than this description. After the new-ball bowlers in Eknath Solkar and Abid Ali failed to provide the first breakthrough, captain Ajit Wadekar turned to his magician spinner.
Chandrasekhar was brought into the attack in the eighth over and straightaway he got rid of John Jameson. From there on, there was no stopping for Chandra, as he was lovingly called in the dressing room. Batsmen came and went, came and went. Chandrasekhar's extra pace of sluggish Oval pitch made it impossible for batsmen to read him.
He ended up with a six-wicket haul for India in the second innings, and also with India's first win in England in a Test match in 39 years.
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