Exceptional bowling displays have previously decided outcomes in India vs England Test encounters on more than one occasion. And with the Indian cricket team hosting England in Chennai for the first Test, the twisting and turning nature of the turf is bound to gain a lot of traction.
India’s very first tryst with England was also their first-ever game in the Test format, when a certain Mohammad Nissar had laid the foundations with his five-wicket haul in their maiden overseas Test match. He did repeat the feat later, more than once.
Over the years, the likes of Anil Kumble, Bhagwat Chandrashekhar, Kapil Dev, and Bishan Singh Bedi have all anchored India’s bowling in the 100-plus Tests played between the cricket giants.
We take a look at the most memorable spells bowled by Indian bowlers in an India-England Test.
Vinoo Mankad - 8/55 (1952)
Mulvantrai Himmatlal Mankad, commonly known as Vinoo Mankad, pioneered the all-rounder role for the Indian cricket team, and holds the record for the best bowling performance by an Indian bowler.
In the 1952 Test at Madras, Mankad’s subtle variations and supreme control over his amount of spin saw Jack Robertson and the English batting order fail to sustain the pressure and fall to 266 runs in the first innings. In the following inning, the all-rounder scalped four wickets to wrap up the contest with a victory of an inning and eight runs.
The legendary player went on to pick up 54 wickets in 11 matches against England, at a healthy average of 23.12, and was the catalyst for the country’s early rise in red-ball cricket.
Ravindra Jadeja - 7/48 (2016)
Ravindra Jadeja has grown into a Mr. Dependable for India in recent years, be it with the bat, ball, or in the field. But, if one has to pick one of his memorable performances as a player, it will be his seven-wicket haul in the 2016 Test at Chennai.
Team India was in the driver’s seat following breathtaking displays from Karun Nair (303) and KL Rahul (199), but after England piled up 102/0 by the 39th over, they needed some injection from Jadeja to set the course of the game.
The all-rounder’s 7/48 was the sixth instance where he bagged five or more wickets for India in Test matches, and it was also the third-best bowling figures by an Indian bowler against England in Tests.
Ishant Sharma - 7/74 (2014)
A victory at the iconic Lord’s is no ordinary feat and India have worn it as a badge of pride on multiple occasions. The 95-run win in 2014 was India’s first win in 28 years at the Mecca of cricket, but it was also a testament to Ishant Sharma’s sheer will to showcase his tenacity.
2 - Ishant Sharma's 7-74 are the 2nd best figures by an overseas bowler in a team 2nd innings at Lord's. Destroyer. pic.twitter.com/Y9aEJiaF9W— OptaJim (@OptaJim) July 21, 2014
After he went wicketless in the first innings despite bowling 24 overs, the pacer was under pressure to make a strong comeback against a team that was sailing towards a win. Post the 27th over of England’s chase of 314, Ishant got the wickets of Ian Bell and Alastair Cook in successive deliveries to kickstart his rampage of wickets.
Not only had Ishant Sharma got his name on the honours board at Lord’s, but also became the first Indian bowler to take that many wickets on English soil. The win was India’s only positive result in their 1-3 series loss in their 2014 tour, but will forever be remembered as the ‘Ishant Test’.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / David Gray