A history of mouth-watering clashes and the anticipation of an exciting combat between champion players make the upcoming series between England and India a much-awaited affair. In the day and age when Test cricket is constantly on the decline, with a vast gap between the top four and the bottom four teams, any series between the champion teams are eagerly awaited for the quality of cricket that is promised.
Over the years, both England and India have produced a number of match-winners who have gone on to make their respective nations proud. On occasions, these cricketers have proved a thorn for their rivals, and there are many instances when an individual has stood out for his remarkable skill against a particular team.
Sachin Tendulkar heralded his beginning in international cricket with his first Test hundred in Manchester and two future stalwarts Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid too impressed with a strong showing on debut at Lord’s way back in 1996. From England, James Anderson and Stuart Broad have been the biggest nemesis for India in the recent past and with both bowlers ready to unleash their onslaught on the Virat Kohli-led team this time around as well, the 5-match series is expected to be a mouth-watering contest.
Amongst other key battles, the competition between Joe Root and Kohli is sure to pick up the pace. Both the players are equipped with a near-perfect technique and have made a mark for their mental strength against tough rivals. They have also been touted as the two of the four players who will stand out in the coming years and they will be eager to go one-up.
Before the first Test at Birmingham gets underway from next month, here’s reliving the best matches that have taken place between the two sides.
India vs England, Mumbai, 1981
England toured India in 1981-82 for six Tests and three ODIs but in all sincerity, the home team were hardly given a chance to stand tall. Along with the West Indies, England had made a mark for their competitive spirit and hence it came as a huge surprise when India sprung forward a shock upset.
It started off poorly for debutant Kris Srikanth who was dismissed for a duck in the first innings and the Indian innings could not gather steam once the openers departed early. The home side managed only 179 that was hardly considered par for a team that comprised of Graham Gooch, Geoffrey Boycott, David Gower and Ian Botham. The visiting side were well-placed to overhaul the paltry Indian total after Boycott and Chris Tavare smashed half-centuries. However, a buoyant 5/39 by Dilip Doshi ensured that the middle order could never get going and England were dismissed for 166, giving India a 13-run lead.
It was game on and India had to up their batting in the second innings, but unfortunately, no player could get past 50. Kapil Dev’s 46 helped India reach 227 and it needed a spirited showing with the ball to curb the English onslaught.
Chasing 231 for win, the top-order was rattled by Dev’s pace bowling. He was adequately supported by Madan Lal who too ended with a 5-wicket haul. Eventually, England could manage only 102 runs and the low-scoring thriller helped boost the confidence of a team that was taking slow but steady strides in international cricket.
England vs India, Nottingham, 2007
After an early ouster in the World Cup in West Indies, the India team were possibly going through their lowest phase. It needed a streak of dominating performances to win back the fans and the first step towards that was the Test series in England. However, not many gave them much of a chance as India had been unable to return with the trophy for 21 years and a downcast Indian squad were expected to succumb in the absence of a coach.
However, Zaheer Khan rose to the party with 4 wickets in the first innings in the second Test at Nottingham to dismiss England for only 198. The target was strongly answered by the Indian camp, who notched up 481 runs courtesy fifties from Dinesh Karthik, Wasim Jaffer, Tendulkar, Ganguly and VVS Laxman. Faced with a huge task, captain Michael Vaughan led from the front with a blistering 124 and though the Englishmen tried hard in third innings, they could get to only 355. The target of 73 was hardly going to be enough and India recorded a memorable series win under the tutelage of Dravid.
India vs England, Chennai, 2008
The match will always find a mention whenever the history of the two teams gets drawn up. With the unfortunate 26/11 attacks in Mumbai during the ODI series in 2008, England returned home mid-way through the tour. However, a few weeks later the BCCI asked for a helping hand to combat terrorism from the ECB and proposed that the Test series go on as scheduled. Accepting the gesture, the English players arrived in India to fight it out in the Test series.
The first Test after the cruel incident in Chennai hence was not just another game. It had transcended into a symbol of peace and unity, with England rising up to offer a friendly hand. In such a situation, the outcome of the match did not matter but it was secretly hoped that India could get a win to spread even a glimmer of joy in the petrified citizens.
However, the script seemed to go awry as India amassed only 241 in response to England’s 316 in the first innings. Twin hundreds from Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood pushed England’s second innings score past 300 as well and India was set a stiff and an improbable 387 for a win.
Improbable before a certain Virender Sehwag got going, that is. The dangerous player set the momentum with a brisk 83 in just 68 balls that laid the foundation for the middle-order to go for the target. Tendulkar, who was deeply disturbed with the occurrences in his hometown, strung together crucial partnerships first with Gautam Gambhir and then with Yuvraj Singh to score one of his most emotional hundreds.
By the time India won the game, teary-eyed faces stood up to applaud the spirit and the soul of a hurt hero, who was too maudlin to even utter a few words.
India vs England, Mumbai, 2012
The series that was expected to be an easy encounter for the home team turned into the contrary as the batsmen were constantly bamboozled by the spin web of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar. Though India, courtesy a fine 135 by Cheteshwar Pujara managed 327 in the first innings, the spin bowlers ran amok, picking up 9 wickets between them. In reply, Pietersen showed the way by adopting the ‘sweep-against-spin’ policy to score a crucial 186 to take England past India’s total by 86 runs.
However, it was in the second innings where India’s spin woes became more prominent as the batsmen just had no answer whatsoever against a rampant bowling unit. Panesar and Swann picked up 6 and 4 wickets, respectively to shoot out India for just 142 and the target of 57 was hardly an issue.
Since the series, India who had prided themselves in their technique against spin have struggled against the slower bowlers and Moeen Ali would hope that he can replicate his 2014 showing in the upcoming games as well.
England vs India, Lord’s, 2014
The Indian team had made a reputation of floundering in Tests that were held away from India. A 0-8 drubbing in 2011 against England and Australia had seriously dented their aura and the 2014 series offered them a chance at redemption.
It came in the second Test at Lord’s that was played on a green seaming track where the Indians were hardly given a chance. Ajinkya Rahane showed why he is regarded so highly overseas as he stuck around to help India get to 295. No other Indian batsmen crossed more than 50 in the first innings.
In reply, England got to 319 but not before Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 6/82 had given the hosts a glimpse of what was to follow. With only a slender lead of 24 given, India fancied their chances and returned to grit it out with the bat, finishing on 342 runs. Though England were given a next-to-impossible target, time was running out and it was here that Ishant Sharma raised his game to bounce out the opponents in no time.
He stuck to a perfect line and length and with sheer pace troubled the Englishmen who could only manage 223. The win, achieved in tough conditions, followed India’s triumph over Australia at Perth in 2008 and displayed their mettle when the challenges seem overwhelming.
Note: The top five matches have been chosen by the writer herself and does not reflect the opinion of whole cricket team of cricketsoccer.