From the vault: India in England

Close your eyes. Imagine India in the whites in England. Does the Ravindra Jadeja sword-style-bat celebration come to your mind? Can you recollect Chak de India being played at Trent Bridge in 2007?

The much-anticipated Test battle between the two giants is only a few days away. Virat Kohli’s team India will face Joe Root’s formidable English side in their own backyard for a marathon five-match Test series starting August 1.

But before the battle begins, we take a look at India’s three significant victories from the vault in the English backyard.

Dravid, Tendulkar, Ganguly lead a comeback at Leeds
England vs India, 3rd Test at Leeds (2002)

India had lost the first Test at Lord’s by a massive 170 run margin. The second Test at Nottingham was a gruelling draw. When India came to Leeds, England had removed Virender Sehwag pretty early but had a difficult time against an in-form Rahul Dravid, who along with Sanjay Bangar made England toil. Dravid made a classy 148 and set it up for Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly to maul-haul the English bowlers on the second day.

India’s skipper Sourav Ganguly struck an aggressive 128 but it was Sachin Tendulkar’s 193-run masterclass which flattened England. India declared at 628/8 before Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh accounted for 6 English wickets. The hosts were asked to follow on after being bundled out for 273 but fought back through captain Nasser Hussain who made 110. It was Anil Kumble’s 4 wicket haul in the second innings which caused a collapse. England could never recover and eventually folded for 309 with India taking the game by an innings and 46 runs.

This win helped India draw the 4-match Test series.

Triumph at Trent Bridge
England vs India, 2nd Test at Trent Bridge (2007)

In 2007, India had a new captain in Anil Kumble. The first Test was drawn and both teams came to Nottingham. Kumble won the toss and strangely, opted to field first. Zaheer Khan, who had spent time in the county season in the previous year, displayed what he was capable of and ran through the home team’s top order. Kumble cleaned up the tail and England were bowled out for a below par 198. India’s opening pair was going through experiments at that point. But both Wasim Jaffer and Dinesh Karthik added 147 for the first wicket to lay a strong platform. Sachin Tendulkar top scored with 91 and found support from Sourav Ganguly (79) and VVS Laxman (54) as India posted 481 runs on the board.

Despite trailing by 283 runs, England did not give up and fought back through their skipper Michael Vaughan who was batting well past his hundred. England were cruising at 287/3 when Kumble threw the ball back to Zaheer. The left-arm pacer removed Michael Vaughan and along with RP Singh and the Indian skipper, restricted England to 355. He snared a 5-wicket haul, boosting his match tally to 9 wickets and allowed India to chase a petty 73 run target for a historic victory at Trent Bridge.

India got past the target with 7 wickets to spare and on the back of this win, won the Test series 1-0 in England.

Lording Lord’s
England vs India, 2nd Test at Lord’s (2014)

Perhaps the freshest victory in our minds. MS Dhoni’s team India had completed a Test match victory at the Mecca of cricket after 28 long years. Batting first, India were reduced to 145/7 when Ajinkya Rahane bailed the visitors out with a resilient 103. India managed 295 but England bettered their first innings score with a vital 24 run lead thanks to a Gary Ballance ton.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (36) played a big role in the first innings with the bat first when he played second fiddle to Rahane but stunned the English men in their own backyard with some quality swing bowling claiming 6 wickets.

India had a point to prove in the second innings. Murali Vijay came out with a gutsy 95 but lack of support from the other end meant that India were reduced to 235/7 before Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneswhar Kumar turned things around in one of the best counter-attacking partnerships of the decade. The duo added 99 runs for the 8th wicket thanks to boundary laden 57-ball 68 from Jadeja.

Suddenly, the target for England had climbed up to 319 with India right back in the game. The hosts had been reduced to 72/4 when Joe Root and Moeen Ali joined forces to frustrate India. They added 101 runs for the fifth wicket before Ishant Sharma decided to bounce out Moeen Ali. He used the same tactics for the rest of the batsmen with cover on the leg side fence but every man up in the 30-yard circle on the offside.

Who would’ve imagined an India pacer trouble English batsmen with bounce and pace on their own turf? The move paid off and Ishant Sharma returned with figures of 7/74 to help India stage a brilliant victory by 95 runs.

The upcoming series also promises to be a cracker with both teams equally competitive on paper. A lot will be expected from Virat Kohli’s men when they take the field on August 1 at Edgbaston.