India is currently on the tour of England and the much anticipated test series is about to commence from August 1. The series is beautifully poised as India won the T20 series, 2-1, while England pulled back the ODI series after loosing the first match to clinching the remaining two games. It is going to be a momentous series for England as they are about to play their historic 1000th Test match at Edgbaston.
The history doesn’t favour the Indian side and the last two tours in 2011 and 2014 only underlines the fact. In 2011, the Indian team was at the pinnacle of success after winning the World Cup and being ranked the number one test team under captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. India lost the series 4-0 and England dethroned India from the top spot, reducing to third. The Wall – Rahul Dravid was the lone warrior on the tour amassing 461 runs including 3 centuries.
In 2014, India began on a great note after winning the 2nd Test at Lords courtesy of Ajinkya Rahane’s 103 and Ishant Sharma’s 7 wicket haul in the last innings. However, India lost the remaining three matches of the five match series. James Anderson claimed 25 wickets in the series and made the Indian Run Machine Virat Kohli his bunny. Kohli wasn’t able to score even one fifty in the ten innings that he played. This remains a nightmare of a tour for him.
India have tasted success only thrice in England. First it was in 1971 under captain Ajit Wadekar, then Kapil Dev’s team won in 1986 and it was under Rahul Dravid in 2007 that won in England after 21 years. Here are the three successes in brief.
1971 : (1-0)
The first and the second test matches at Lords and Old Trafford were drawn and in the third test match at the Oval India pulled off a historic win by 4 wickets after being 71 behind in the first innings. They bowled out England for 101, Bhagwat Chandrashekhar claiming 6-38. Captain Ajit Wadekar scored the most 204 for India. Sunil Gavaskar, Bishan Singh Bedi, Dilip Sardesai and Gundappa Vishwanath were some of the other star performers of the series.
1986 : (2-0)
India won the first two test matches at Lords and Leeds thanks to the outstanding efforts from Dilip Vengsarkar’s 360 runs and Chetan Sharma’s 16 wickets in the series. Vengsarkar scored 126 in the first test which was backed by Sharma’s 5/64 in the first innings and Kapil Dev’s 4/52 in the second. India won the match by 5 wickets. In the second test at Leeds, Vengsarkar again scored a century and India won by 279 runs. Roger Binny took 5 wickets while Maninder Singh claimed 4 wickets.
2007 : (1-0)
The first test at Lords was drawn as MS Dhoni and Shreesanth denied England the one wicket required to win the match, bad light and rain also played it’s part. In the 2nd test at Trent Bridge, England were all out for 198 in the first innings, in reply India scored a massive 481. England managed 355 in the third innings courtesy Michael Vaughan’s 124. India needed 70 odd runs to win and won comfortably by 7 wickets. Zaheer Khan took 9 wickets in the match. The third test at the Oval was a draw and India won a series in England after 21 long years.
The current Indian team led by the fiery Virat Kohli has got all the boxes ticked atleast on paper. Murli Vijay looks in good touch, KL Rahul could replace Shikhar Dhawan in case of a faliure, Pujara has already been accustomed to English conditions and Rahane is the man for overseas tours. The fast bowling department looks fine with Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma, doubts linger over Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. Any one or at most two of the three spinners Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav could get a chance. Dinesh Karthik is sure to play as a wicket keeper. But for India to succeed on this tour the captain – Virat Kohli has to perform.
The English team has a mix of experienced and new players in the squad. Their highest run scorer – Alastair Cook (12,145 runs) along with highest wicket taker – James Anderson (540 wickets) along with Stuart Broad (417 wickets) and captain Joe Root, Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler make a formidable squad.
The contest is even. Kohli has to find a way to tackle Anderson and Broad and the Indian bowlers must get Cook and Root cheaply to win the series after 11 years in England. This is undoubtedly Virat’s biggest and toughest series as a captain and if he succeeds as a batsman he will surely be successful as a captain.