Less than a week is all that's left before the start of the first Test between India and England in what is being touted as a blockbuster series. Both teams would be training away tirelessly for the five-Test series that would perhaps be a litmus test of the captaincy skills of both Virat Kohli and Joe Root.
India are the number one-ranked Test side in the world leading into this series — a position that they earned after a dominant run on their home soil. Although they came up short against South Africa earlier this year, Kohli, as well as the rest of the Indian team, would be eager to back up their No 1 status with on-field results, especially at a venue where they've endured a torrid time in their last two visits.
England, on the other hand, have slipped in the Test rankings even though they continue to dominate the one-day charts and are fairly well off in T20Is. This after a 0-4 beating at the hands of Australia in the last Ashes, as well as an away series loss to New Zealand. They were even outplayed by Pakistan in the first of the two-Test series at the start of this summer, although Root and company did well to bounce back and level the series.
Despite their lean recent run, England continue to be a force on home soil, having beaten a much-fancied South African side 3-1 last year, and will certainly fancy their chances against the Indians with a majority of their squad in shape and raring to go.
The two teams have produced a number of scintillating encounters since they first met back in 1932. Here, we take a look at some of India's most memorable victories on English soil over the years:
Not only is this victory historic due to the fact that it was India's first win in England, but also because the victory sealed the three-Test series in India's favour. The year 1971 was a memorable one in Indian cricket history indeed, with India winning Test series' both in England as well as West Indies by similar margins.
England got off to a good start after electing to bat, with wicket-keeper Alan Knott top-scoring for his side with 90 to help the hosts reach 355. The Ajit Wadekar-led visitors, in reply, fell short of the England total by 71 runs thanks to a fifer by Ray Illingworth. The real turnaround, however, occurred in England's second innings when India's spin quartet functioned like a well-oiled unit, taking nine wickets between themselves (Bhagwath Chandrashekhar leading the way with 6/38). England were bowled out for a lowly 101.
India were set a target of 173, and were dealt with an early blow when Sunil Gavaskar was trapped lbw by John Snow. India lost wickets at regular wickets, but didn't lose hope, and were eventually able to forge vital partnerships along the way. Gundappa Vishwanath and Farokh Engineer got India to the brink of victory before the former departed, and it Engineer who guided India home with four wickets to spare.
India's first-ever victory at the 'Home of Cricket'. The Indian team of the mid-1980s was on a roll, having lifted the World Cup under Kapil Dev's captaincy, and then going on to win the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket two years later. The side toured England in the summer of 1986, hoping to carry their winning ways over to the British Isles.
Among India's most memorable moments from the Test happens to be Dilip Vengsarkar's unbeaten 126. Not only did it help India gain a 47-run first innings lead, but it was the third century for the 'Colonel' at Lord's as well as the only one in a winning cause. The 47-run lead then came in handy when Dev lead the way with the ball with a haul of 4/52, aided by a handy spell by Maninder Singh (3/9) that helped skittle England out for 180, leaving India just 134 runs to notch up their first-ever win at the venue. Though they endured a few hiccups along the way, Dev and Ravi Shastri were there till the end to guide India to safety.
This is a match that can be described as one of India's most hard-fought victories of all time. Against a quality English attack and in conditions that were assisting swing bowling, India opted to bat first and lost the wicket of opener Virender Sehwag inside seven overs. Rahul Dravid walked out to bat at his regular position of No 3, facing the challenge of weathering the storm with Sanjay Bangar, who was opening with Sehwag.
While Sachin Tendulkar (193) and Sourav Ganguly (128) slammed centuries as India posted a mammoth 628/8, it was Dravid's 148 that they had to be thankful for, one that helped see off the new-ball threat of the English pace unit. The innings would easily count among 'The Wall's most memorable knocks, and then-coach John Wright is said to have told Dravid in the dressing room that that century would go on to define him.
India gained momentum from that massive score, and their bowlers were at it thereafter. Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh shared 11 wickets between themselves over the next two innings, as the hosts were bowled out twice, resulting in India's biggest win in England — an innings and 46 runs.
Trent Bridge, 2007
The Indians pulled off only their second-ever series win on English soil, courtesy an allround effort at Nottingham in the second Test. The match, however, is remembered for the infamous 'Jellybean' incident, as well as a destructive spell from Zaheer Khan, who was at the receiving end of the prank by the English team.
Zaheer earlier led the way for India as the Englishmen were bowled out for 198. India's innings saw as many as five individuals score half-centuries as the visitors put up a commanding 481-run total, with Zaheer complaining of English fielders placing jellybeans near his feet repeatedly. While Vaughan's boys merely saw it as a harmless prank, the left-arm Indian pacer was incensed by what he saw as an act of insult. It might have fired him up in the second innings, as he produced figures of 5/75 to help dismiss England for 355. India chased down the 73-run target with a couple of hiccups along the way, and Zaheer was later awarded the Man of the Match.
Much like their win at the same venue in 1986, this victory was the result of one match-defining century, as well as a destructive spell. Only this time, Vengsarkar and Kapil were replaced by Ajinkya Rahane and Ishant Sharma. Rahane further bolstered his reputation as India's best bet with the bat on foreign soil, having done well in South Africa and New Zealand before this tour, as he notched up a hard-fought 103 against all odds.
The visitors were then trailing by 24 runs at the start of their second innings, and were in a state of despair at 235/7 when Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar joined forces to forge a life-saving 99-run stand, helping India post a target in excess of 300. Ishant did the rest in the fourth innings with the spell of a lifetime, as his figures of 7/74 stood out in a 95-run win.
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