Kiran More recalls the historic Lord's Test in 1986 when India registered their first win at the venue
India had not won a single Test match at Lord's in the last 10 matches they had played there before the 1986 tour. A 20-day camp in Bengaluru and team flew to England to play two ODIs and three Tests, first of which would be at Lord's. The iconic ground was important for the team in more than one ways. If it held a special place in Indian team's memories, it also held a mirror to their disappointing away record. It was here that Kapil's Devils had written history three years ago, beating West Indies in the World Cup final, that completely changed the fate of Indian cricket. However, a Test win at Lord's still evaded them. India had tried ten times without success.
But things were to change.
The Indian Test contingent on '86 tour, mixed with experience and youth, led by an inspiring Kapil Dev landed in England to write another glorious chapter in India's cricket history — a Test win at Lord's and only the second series win in England.
Waiting eagerly to immerse himself in the glory was a 24-year-old wicket-keeper/batsman Kiran More. The win was not guaranteed, it had to be earned. The conditions, pitch (not to forget the slope), suited England. More was a nervous man and expectedly so. The long room, the MCC members, the aura and the history of Lord's was enough to put pressure on More. This was a special occasion for him. A Test debut at Lord's is a dream for many. And More was living that dream.
"It was a great feeling for me. The atmosphere is different at Lord's and to make a debut there was special. The aura of long room. MCC members sitting. We also won the Test match so it became more special," More recalled his debut speaking to Firstpost.
Those were not the days of chatter and meetings and pep talks. Kapil was a man of few words himself, who did not waste time attending meetings. Cricket was not as commercialised as it is today and there were no presentation ceremonies either. It was all very simple — get there on the ground and perform.
#OnThisDay in 1986, India won their first Test at the @HomeOfCricket, set up by Dilip Vengsarkar's third Lord's hundred in three matches and finished in style with a @therealkapildev six! pic.twitter.com/wEHBwmOLnA
— ICC (@ICC) June 10, 2018
"Kapil Dev was simple. He used to tell you have to bowl well and bat well (to win)," said More, when asked if the team got any inspiring words from the captain before or during the game. There were a few words. Kapil would discuss the basic plans with batsmen and bowlers and get on with the game. When it came to inspiration, he did that through his performances. This match was no different. Five wickets in the match and key runs at the end while chasing, he had definitely done his bit as leader. However, he wasn't alone in doing damage to England.
More believes it was the hundred from Dilip Vengsarkar which put India on road to the victory. India were lucky to win the toss in the overcast conditions and bowled England out for 294. What the visitors needed was a healthy lead, for someone needed to step up and who else but Vengsarkar raised his hand, with a superbly crafted 126 off 213 balls, completing a hat-trick of tons at Lord's, also becoming the first man to hit three back-to-back tons at the venue.
"That hundred from Vengsarkar was very important, without that, we would not have been able to put runs on the board. Maninder Singh bowled superbly. Everybody chipped in. When a team puts a collective effort, then you get a great start," said More.
"I think when we batted in first innings and got the lead, we sensed a good chance. And then in the second innings, when we picked up wickets quickly, we thought we have a very good chance of winning the Test."
Not to forget, there was Chetan Sharma, who created issues for the home batsmen with his deceptive action, picking up five wickets in the first innings. He ended up with 16 wickets in the series. The fact that India dominated all days of the match tells the story of this collective brilliance.
With a lead of 39 runs at the end of Day 3, India were placed at a comfortable position in the Test match. Then came rest day before the fourth day.
"When you have a lead, it really means a lot. A healthy lead like that at Lord's makes a lot of difference. We had an upper hand. Because there was a day break, wickets become slow. And because of the overcast conditions, we took advantage. Kapil Dev bowled superbly. Chetan had a slingy action. He was very deceptive as well. That really helped. He was sharp and quick. The delivery to Gatting, I remember was unbelievable," said More.
Kapil picked up four wickets and dismantled England as the hosts were bowled out for 180 in second innings. India required 134 on the last day of the Test to register their first victory at Lord's.
The wickets eased out a bit as it happens at Lord's but India still had to go out and score those runs.
"We had to chase 134 on the last day. It was a good feeling when we went out to chase because Lord's wicket always settles down in later stages. To score 134 is also not easy, but we played superb cricket to get it. Nerves were there. They are always there when you are chasing, even if you are chasing 50. To bat last is always difficult, you tend to have butterflies. We did lose five wickets in the process. It looks easy but each run had to be scored. We had the butterflies and tension to score runs."
Despite early hiccups, India managed to go past the winning mark and clinch a record win, courtesy a fired up Kapil smashing 23 off just 10 balls, finishing the match with a six. That was the first Test win at Lord's and remember, there just have been two till date. More reasons for More to put it as his 'number 1 Test match' he has ever played in. And he gives credit to the team effort. This was no ordinary team. This was David Gower's England, Mike Gatting's England, Graham Gooch's England, Allan Lamb's England. This was England in England.
"Many seniors like Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri, Mohinder Amarnath and others had experience of playing at Lord's. They really guided the young lot and shared the experience of playing there. They gave good insights into slope as well," said More, who himself had a great debut, picking up three catches and effecting two stumping in the Tests, besides scoring a few runs in the first innings.
📅 #OnThisDay in 1986, @BCCI won their first Test match at Lord's!
💯 Dilip Vengsarkar scored 126* in the first innings, which made him the first person to score Test centuries in three successive matches at Lord's.#LoveLords pic.twitter.com/f63Y2XTYPC
— Lord's Cricket Ground (@HomeOfCricket) June 10, 2019
What followed was a party till late night, with some friends joining the players in celebration.
"Many of our senior cricketers had friends in England. India had won in 1983 and the players had made many friends at that time. They also joined us and party went on and on."
India went on to win the second Test at Leeds by a massive margin of 279 runs, sealing the Test series. Under Kapil, India had won its only second Test series in England. And it all started at Lord's, with the venue once again witnessing a glorious day in Indian cricket. More still calls it one of the best wins.
"One of the best wins. It was my debut Test match. One of the top notch wins. We dominated against England at Lord's on all the days. Any away win is special. Winning at Lord's was a great feeling. For me, it is the number 1 Test match."
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