We continue to put some light on the memorable victories that the Indian team achieved in England. After 1971 and 1983, we look at the Indian tour of England in 1986, which was during the Golden era of Indian Cricket.
The Golden era in Indian Cricket had shadowed other countries in the cricket world. The stunning world cup win in England was followed by a comprehensive victory in the World Championship of Cricket held in Australia. Indian cricket was ruling the world as they had got a very balanced side.
But some way or the other, they were not the same in the 5-day format. Coming into the tour of England, India last won a series way back in 1981-82 when Kapil Dev’s heroics helped India won the 1st test against England. The other five in the series were drawn, ending one of the dullest series ever played on Indian soil as the home team were very much defensive after the 1-0 lead.
That win was followed by defeat, on home soil, at the hands of the mighty West Indies (1983) and resilient Englishmen (1984).
If today Dhoni’s final frontier is to conquer England and Australia, Kapil Dev’s, was winning in the longest format of the game as he had 20 tests without a win as a captain. But soon, that record was going to get better when they toured England in 1986.
On the other hand, English team was in shambles as they were battling wounds suffered during the famous “blackwash series” (0-5 loss) at the hands of the great West Indies team.
As I write, I realized that I have found much similarity if the captains of the two teams (present and bygone era) are compared . Above, I talked about MS Dhoni and Kapil Dev. Coincidentally, similarities are also found if the English captains are compared. David Gower was in the most wanted list as his team was hunted down in the Caribbean, much the same way as Cook’s team in Australia (also 0-5), recently.
So it was the battle of the two captains who were searching for pride. And it all started when the teams locked horns at the Mecca of cricket-Lord’s Cricket Ground.
1st Test, Lord’s
Indian fans remember Chetan Sharma as the bowler who conceded the last ball six at Sharjah. Hardly anybody remembers him for his deathly spell which ripped apart the English batting order, just 2 months after that debacle. The way he was bowling on day one showed that he was out to prove his mettle. He removed Gower, Gatting and Lamb in no time and England were suddenly 4 wickets down with just 98 runs on the board.
Graham Gooch’s century helped England reach a respectable total of 294 which was later overshadowed by a brilliant master class innings by Dilip Vengsarkar who went on to score his 3rd century in as many matches at the historic ground. Imposing as he was, the bowlers found it tough to get him dismissed. Single-handedly he took India past England’s score and thus the visitors had an upper hand when England came out to bat for the 2nd time.
If Chetan Sharma made inroads in the English batting order in the 1st innings, it was the captain’s time to take the initiative. Kapil Dev removed the top three in the space of nineteen deliveries and signalled the collapse of English batting. The cloud cover helped him to get some movement on the ball which eventually led to the dismissals. With the help of young Maninder Singh, the resilient English tail was removed and thus India were set a target of 134 runs which they achieved comfortably to register their first ever win at Lord’s.
2nd Test, Leeds
Mike Gatting wore the captaincy shoes from this test as David Gower was sacked from leadership. But it didn’t end their woes as England were bundled out for a paltry 102, courtesy of some outstanding bowling by veteran Madan Lal and Roger Binny. It was amazing that every time, a new hero was born during this memorable tour.
Earlier on, India had scored a competitive 272 largely due to a patient knock by Vengsarkar. Everybody at the top contributed equally for India.
On a pitch of variable bounce, in the 2nd innings, Vengsarkar showed the art of batting as he again made a remarkable century, the 2nd of the series. England were on the driver seat had not Vengsarkar made a masterful knock as none of the other batsmen crossed 35. That says it all about his batting talent.
England were set a mammoth target of 408 to which they were bundled out partly again for just 128, handing victory to India within just 4 days.
3rd Test, Birmingham
India won the series 2-0 as the 3rd test ended in a draw, largely due to a stoppage of 48 minutes for bad light accompanied by rain.
Both teams equally faired and perhaps that’s why the rain Gods had their say. After a decent batting from both the teams in the 1st innings, England were dismissed for 235 with Chetan Sharma earning his career best bowling figures of 6/58.
England had the match on their hands when India were 5 down for just 105 runs but a resilient partnership between Ravi Shastri and Kiran More denied England a win and thus the series ended with the hosts failing to register even a single victory.
Dilip Vengsarkar shared the man of the series award with Mike Gatting as the former amassed 360 runs. Thus the Indian team, comprising youth and experience, had conquered England in the most emphatic fashion.