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Four instances when India outclassed England in Tests

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Since 1932, a Test fixture involving the Indian cricket team and England has grown into one of the most fierce and competitive affairs that cannot simply go unnoticed. As modern powerhouses in the gentleman’s game, the teams have never shied away from offering a brilliant show of cricket talent and sheer brilliance that elevates the sport’s experience.

The cricket giants have played 31 Test series, with India commanding a win/loss ratio of 1.461 in 60 matches played on home soil. On the flip side, their record away from home is far from impressive as they have lost 34 of their 62 Tests in England and have a win/loss ratio of 0.205.

The India-England rivalry is the oldest compared to the Men in Blue’s rivalries with Australia and Pakistan. We look at those four matches where India outclassed the latter in the sport’s longest format, in terms of margins.

Chennai, 2016 - Highest Test total and Biggest victory

The 2016 Test at Chennai is significant for two primary reasons: India registering their highest total in Test cricket and the latter being that their victory by an innings and 75 runs is the biggest against England (home and away).

England, who opted to bat first upon winning the toss, rode on Moeen Ali’s 146 to register a first innings score of 477. In reply, KL Rahul’s 199 and Karun Nair’s 303 helped India post their highest score in the longest format of the game (759/7d).

Nair’s performance saw him become the second Test player - since Wally Hammond in 1932-33 - to pass 200 and 300 in the same session. In his 381-ball knock, the Jodhpur-born cricketer smashed 32 fours and four sixes, something which only Virender Sehwag (twice) had scored more for India in a Test inning.

Ravindra Jadeja made a mark of his own as he put the finishing touches to a commanding victory with seven wickets for the first time in a Test inning and a ten-wicket haul for the first time in a match.

Headingly, 2002 - India end their 16-year winless streak

The 2000s served as the foundation for a modern-day Indian cricket team to be one of the dominant forces to reckon with in Test cricket. Their victory at Headingly opened a new horizon for the Men in Blue, who registered four wins in every ten overseas Tests in the next eight years.

The pitch conditions were favorable for the English bowlers, but India, who won the toss and batted first, held the contest’s pole position from the very beginning, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, and Sourav Ganguly powered Team India to 628/8d, each registering a 100-plus score in the first innings.

Barring Michael Vaughan and Alec Stewart, England’s batting order failed to comply with the Indian spinners in Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. India’s strategy to field two spinners on a pacer-friendly pitch ticked all boxes as they subdued any opportunities by the hosts to go beyond a score of 310.

Kumble and Harbhajan combined to scalp 12 wickets in two innings as they propelled India to their first Test win in England since 1986, by an innings and 46 runs.

Mohali, 2001 - Ganguly and Co. inflict 10-wicket loss

India were in the news for their ethereal comeback against Australia in the Test at Kolkata, and Sourav Ganguly’s team kept the momentum going when they took on Naseer Hussain’s England.

The visitors, who batted first, failed to put a dominant score on the board as they were bundled out from a promising position of 172 for 2 to 238 all out in 76.3 overs. In reply, India took 231-run lead as Ganguly’s men posted 469 in the first innings thanks to wicketkeeper Deep Dasgupta’s first and only century and strong cameos from Rahul Dravid (86 runs off 206 balls) and Sachin Tendulkar (88 runs off 144 balls).

Meanwhile, Graham Thorpe top-scored for England in the second innings with 62 runs, but the visitors’ efforts to exploit the Indian bowlers backfired as India dismissed them for 235. Anil Kumble took six wickets for 81 runs and effectively gave the hosts a target of just five runs to win the Test. 

Headingly, 1986 - Vengsarkar’s boys revive India’s Test fortunes

The Indian cricket team, reeling from their heartbreaking loss to Pakistan in the Austral-Asia Cup final, traveled to the English shore with just four wins out of 52 Tests since the start of the decade, and having failed to win a single Test in their last 20 matches. However, the Men in Blue saw a change in fortunes with victories at Lord’s and Leeds.

Now led by Mike Gatting, England found themselves on the back foot as the visitors took undue advantage of the quickly deteriorating pitch. Riding on Dilip Vengsarkar’s 61, the Men in Blue put up a score of 272 in 104.2 overs and later gave the English batsmen an inconvenient time at the crease. The hosts were bundled out for 102 in less than 46 overs, thanks to a five-wicket haul from Roger Binny.

With a first-innings lead of 170, India found itself in a commanding position, but they had to weather off a slight comeback from the English bowlers, who reduced the visitors to 70 for five. Vengsarkar’s century was the vital chip in his unit to withstand the combined eight-wicket assault by John Lever and Derek Pringle and set a target of 408 runs for England to win the contest.

Maninder Singh’s four wickets and two-wicket hauls by Kapil Dev and Binny saw India secure a 279-run victory and mark the first instance of Team India winning two Tests on a tour of England.

Feature Image courtesy: AFP / Indranil Mukherjee

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