A brief history - 1976-1996

A history of England v India

Martin Williamson

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Part One: 1932-1974
Part Three: 2001-

1976-77 (India)
After heavy defeat by Australia and West Indies, the popular and charismatic Tony Greig led England to victory in India for the first time since the Second World War. England won 3-1, and the extent of their superiority was convincing - an innings and 25 runs, ten wickets and 200 runs. They were undefeated in the eight other first-class matches on the tour although only one of them was won. England won the first three Tests before India finally rallied. At Delhi, England were 125 for 5 before Dennis Amiss (179) turned the innings and John Lever took 10 for 70 on debut - his tour was to be marred by the Vaseline controversy; at Calcutta, Greig's hundred was decisive as India were twice bowled out for under 200; and at Madras it was worse as they were skittled for 164 and 83. India at last showed fight at Bangalore where Bishan Bedi and Chandrasekhar bowled them to a 140-run win, and at Bombay the series ended with an exciting draw as Karsan Ghavri grabbed 5 for 33 to put the skids under England's run chase. This was the last tour where England abroad were known as MCC.
Tests: India 1 England 3 Drawn 1

1979 (England)
India made a poor start to a four-Test series following the World Cup but gradually found their feet and ended by coming agonisingly close to leveling in the final Test. Big hundreds from Geoff Boycott (155) and David Gower (200) followed by good seam bowling gave England an innings win at Edgbaston. At Lord's, Ian Botham (5 for 35) bowled India out for 96 but rain and hundreds from Gundappa Viswanath and Dilip Vengsarkar earned them a draw. The third Test was also ruined by the weather, but in late-summer sunshine at The Oval a glorious 221 from Sunil Gavaskar took India within nine runs of scoring 438 to win the match in a thrilling draw.
Tests: England 1 India 0 Drawn 3

1980 (India)
England stopped off on their way back from Australia to play a one-off Test in Bombay to mark the Golden Jubilee of the Indian board. The match itself was unusual in that the rest day was after the first day because there was an eclipse due and the board did not want the risk of 90,000 spectators damaging their eyesight trying to view it. The game was dominated by Ian Botham, who took 6 for 58 and 7 for 48 and chipped in with 114. Bob Taylor also entered the record books with 10 catches - seven in India's first innings - as England won by 10 wickets.
Test: India 0 England 1

1981-82 (India)
This series was in doubt until the last minute because some of England's squad had played in South Africa. There was a certain irony that one - Boycott - did not finish the tour, returning home early after passing Garry Sobers's record haul of Test runs ostensibly because of fatigue. It later emerged he was helping to organise a rebel tour of South Africa. The six-Test series started well with India gaining a dramatic win in a low-scoring match at Bombay, Madan Lal and Kapil Dev sharing ten wickets as England were bowled out for 102 chasing 241. But thereafter, it was fairly poor entertainment on lifeless pitches, with India content to defend their lead and England lacking the firepower to do much about it. Only at Calcutta, where an estimated 394,000 watched, was there an even balance between bat and ball. That crowd typified the massive interest in the series, but they were sold short by dull cricket and a dismal over rate.
Tests: India 1 England 0 Drawn 5
ODIs: India 2 England 1

1982 (England)
The two sides met again straight away, allowing England to avenge Test and ODI defeats. In contrast to India, the matches were poorly attended. At Lord's, Bob Willis and Botham bowled England to a seven-wicket win despite Vengsarkar's brilliant 157. Poor weather meant a draw at Old Trafford, while the bat dominated at The Oval where Botham struck a career-best 208. It was Botham's jousts with Kapil Dev that were the memory of the series.
Tests: England 1 India 0 Drawn 2
ODIs: England 2 India 0

1984-85 (India)
The tour, where England became the first country to come from behind to win a series in India, was overshadowed by the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the murder of the British High Commissioner weeks later. For a time following Gandhi's death the tour was in doubt, and England spent nine days in Colombo while the tension eased. But the itinerary was amended to avoid the least safe areas and the tour went ahead. India won the first Test at Bombay by eight wickets despite Mike Gatting's long-awaited maiden Test hundred, with Laxman Sivaramakrishnan taking 12 wickets. But at Delhi, Phil Edmonds and Pat Pocock spun England to an unexpected eight-wicket win on the final afternoon. After a weather-marred draw at Calcutta, England won by nine wickets at Madras thanks to 11 for 163 from Neil Foster and double hundreds from gatting and Graeme Fowler. India were not a happy unit and Gavaskar's own form was poor. And for the first time, the crowds did not flock to the grounds, with only the ODIs and the Calcutta Test sold out.
Tests: India 1 England 2 Drawn 2
ODIs: India 1 England 4

1986 (England)
India toured early in the summer - at the request of their board who wanted them fresh for the following season - and so suffered from bad weather for much of the tour. But it didn't affect them on the field as they won the one-day Texaco Trophy and beat England convincingly in the Tests. India started the three-Test series with their first win at Lord's, Vengsarkar scoring a hundred there for the third successive time. Any thoughts that had been a one-off were dispelled by India's crushing 279-run win at Leeds where England only managed 102 and 128. The third Test at Edgbaston was the only close one, and even then India ended in the stronger position.
Tests: England 0 India 2 Drawn 1
ODIs: England 1 India 1

1988-89 (India)
The five-Test tour never happened after India refused to grant visas to two of the England side - Graham Gooch, the captain, and Rob Bailey - and the selectors would not replace them. Peter May, the chairman of selectors, said that England did "not pick teams for political reasons" but India were angry that Gooch had never apologised for going on a rebel tour in 1981-82.

1990 (England)
India came into the first Test at Lord's in sparkling form with a string of wins, including a 2-0 sweep in the ODI series. But they came up against Gooch, and his 333 and 123 guided England to a 247-run win. That was enough to secure the series 1-0. A batting paradise at Manchester produced a great game, India finishing on 343 for 6 chasing 408, Sachin Tendulkar making 119 and Mohammad Azharuddin his second successive hundred. At The Oval, India made England follow on, but David Gower, playing for his place on that winter's Ashes tour, made a brilliant 157 to save the match. The series was entertaining from the off, and was played in sublime weather than necessitated a hosepipe ban. There was nothing to separate the teams, except the toss at Lord's.
Tests: England 1 India 0 Drawn 2
ODIs: England 0 India 2

1992-93 (India)
Rarely have their been more dismal tours than this one led by Graham Gooch. The selection was slammed, all four Tests (including one in Sri Lanka) were lost, and nothing went right. A lengthy meeting at Lord's about what went wrong concluded little except that the players looked a shambles. "At least now we know we didn't lose because we played terribly," one of the squad sniped. But they did and were totally outclassed by India from the off. At Calcutta, England's brains trust picked four seamers on a pitch expected to turn and left out their two specialist spinners in favour of Ian Salisbury, who was not in the original squad. They were thrashed by eight wickets. At Madras, England were spun to an innings defeat, and it was much the same story at Bombay. Anil Kumble took 21 wickets in the three Tests, while England's nine bowlers managed 28 between them. At the start of the series Keith Fletcher, England's manager, said of Kumble: "I didn't see him turn a single ball from leg to off. I don't believe we will have much problem with him." It summed up an utter shambles.
Tests: India 3 England 0
ODIs: India 3 England 3

1996 (England)
India were comprehensively outclassed in the one-day internationals, beaten in the Test series and failed to win a single first-class match on the 13th tour of England. The side was far from happy, and Mohammad Azharuddin was under a constant cloud as a leader over personal and leadership issues - it was no surprise he scored just 42 runs in five Test innings. The bitter cold in the early weeks was an added downer. India lost the first Test at Birmingham by eight wickets after their batting, with the exception of Tendulkar (122) failed to fire. But they bounced back at Lord's where they had the better of a draw, and a high-scoring draw at Nottingham was notable for hundreds from Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly on one side and Nasser Hussain and Mike Atherton on the other.
Tests: England 1 India 0 Drawn 2
ODIs: England 2 India 0

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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