A window into India's tortuous overseas saga

Sankhya Krishnan

June 10, 2001

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It was a long time coming but India finally broke a fifteen year old barren sequence outside the subcontinent by sealing a crushing 8 wicket victory against Zimbabwe at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo. That should offer some balm for a wounded national psyche suffering from the cumulative baggage of a grim history that has yielded 15 wins in 158 overseas Tests, a success rate of only 9.4 per cent. Here is a complete wrap-up of India's 15 away victories:

* vs New Zealand at Dunedin, 1967/68

India's first away victory came in their 105th Test and 44th outside the country. Making a maiden trip to New Zealand on the back of a 4-0 whitewash at the hands of their Trans-Tasman neighbours, India won the first Test at Dunedin. It halted a gloomy run of seven consecutive defeats. Erapalli Prasanna engineered a Kiwi second innings collapse and chasing a target of 200, the Indians held their nerve to win by five wickets. Ajit Wadekar's twin efforts of 80 and 71 left a huge impact on the final result. [Scorecard]

* vs New Zealand at Wellington, 1967/68

After the hosts had evened the score in the second Test, India went ahead again at the Basin Reserve. Ajit Wadekar who had fallen agonisingly for 99 in Melbourne on the Aussie leg of the tour two months earlier, made 143. It was his first and last Test hundred. Pursuing a meagre 59 in the fourth innings, India won by eight wickets with more than a day and a half to spare. [Scorecard]

* vs New Zealand at Auckland, 1967/68

At Auckland's Eden Park India wrapped up their first ever series victory abroad, by the convincing margin of 3-1. More than eight hours were lost to the weather on the first two days. Rusi Surti suffered the misfortune of being dismissed on 99; he would never make a Test century. Prasanna was again the chief wrecker with eight wickets to take his series tally to 24 as the Kiwis collapsed to 101 in the fourth innings. [Scorecard]

* vs West Indies at Port of Spain, 1970/71

Sunil Gavaskar made 65 and 67 not out (including the winning boundary) on his Test debut as India clinched a historic seven wicket triumph inside four days. Vice captain S Venkataraghavan grabbed 5/95 in the second innings although the decisive blows were delivered by left arm spinner Salim Durrani who removed Lloyd and Sobers in the same over. [Scorecard]

* vs England at the Oval, 1971

Five months later Ajit Wadekar's men completed an astonishing double by toppling England in the final Test at the Oval for a 1-0 series win. Trailing by 71 on the first innings, Chandra's bewitching spell of 6/38 saw off the hosts for 101. Despite early hiccups, India was not to be denied, Abid Ali square cutting Luckhurst to the fence for the winning runs even as the crowd surged into the playing arena. [Scorecard]

* vs New Zealand at Auckland, 1975/76

Bishen Bedi pulled a leg muscle on the eve of the contest, leaving his deputy Sunil Gavaskar in charge for the first time. Sunny duly struck a century as did debutant Surinder Amarnath who emulated father Lala in the process. The deadly Prasanna ripped through the New Zealand second innings with pickings of 8/76 to leave India a target of just 68 which they polished off for the loss of two wickets. [Scorecard]

* vs West Indies at Port of Spain, 1975/76

This was the apogee of India's overseas victories as they chased down a victory target of 403 with six wickets to spare. Having outplayed India for three and a half days, Clive Lloyd believed that his three man spin attack of Jumadeen, Padmore and Imtiaz Ali could bowl India out on a wearing track. He was proved horribly wrong. While Amarnath held one end up with the tenacity of a limpet, Gavaskar and Viswanath produced centuries as the chase heated up and finally boiled over in India's favour. [Scorecard]

* vs Australia at Melbourne, 1977/78

Having gone 2-0 down to a depackerised Australian team led by veteran Bobby Simpson, India struck back at the MCG with a 222 run victory. Sunil Gavaskar made his third successive second innings century in the series but the win owed most to BS Chandrasekhar who did not allow the mortification of making a duck in each innings (his fourth Test pair) distract him from taking identical figures of 6/52 twice to finish with 12/104 for the match, still the best away haul by an Indian bowler. [Scorecard]

* vs Australia at Sydney, 1977/78

One week later India knotted up the series at 2-2 with an even more convincing rout at the SCG. For the first time in 23 years, Australia suffered two successive Test defeats at home. It remains the only innings victory by an Indian team in an overseas Test, but only barely so, by an innings and two runs. [Scorecard]

* vs Australia at Melbourne, 1980/81

India came back from a first innings deficit of 182 to level the series 1-1 in a thrilling climax. Defending a target of just 143 in the fourth innings and operating with two bowlers nursing discommoding injuries, the tourists scuppered their hosts for 83. Kapil Dev, who bowled with a pulled thigh muscle, cut through the bottom half of the Aussie batting to close with 5/28. This was after skipper Gavaskar, enraged by an lbw decision against him off Dennis Lillee, came perilously close to forfeiting the match by walking off with his opening partner. [Scorecard]

* vs England at Lord's, 1986

Kapil Dev had never won a Test as captain in 20 previous ventures, dating back to Kingston in 1983. On the final afternoon, Kapil hoisted Phil Edmonds over midwicket for six to bring up a five wicket triumph for India, their first ever at the game's HQ. Dilip Vengsarkar's third successive Lord's century was the meatiest effort with the bat and while the seamers grabbed 15 wickets between them, Maninder Singh's second innings effort of 3/9 from 20.4 overs was a splendid exhibition. Incredibly it was the first time India had won a Test after inserting their opponents following 18 failed attempts. [Scorecard]

* vs England at Leeds, 1986

Mike Gatting was greeted in his debut Test as captain by a 279 run drubbing an hour and a quarter into the fourth morning. Vengsarkar gave another virtuoso performance, collecting 61 and 102 not out on a capricious wicket when none of the other 21 batsmen could cross 36. [Scorecard]

* vs Sri Lanka at Colombo, 1993/94

Vinod Kambli made 125, following up on scores of 224 and 227 in his previous two innings. And Sidhu and Tendulkar struck second innings tons as India set the hosts an unreachable target of 472. There were concerns voiced by the visitors over the decisions of the two umpires but it was Anil Kumble who proved the most decisive figure in the game with eight wickets. [Scorecard]

* vs Bangladesh at Dhaka, 2000/01

The Indian team invited considerable chaff after conceding 400 in the first innings to Test babes Bangladesh, the second time they allowed a debutant nation the benefit of such munificence. India huffed and puffed their way to a first innings lead but Bangladesh had already reached the full extent of their defiance. They collapsed for 91 in the second knock as India ran out nine wicket victors late on the fourth evening. [Scorecard]

* vs Zimbabwe at Bulawayo, 2000/01

Buoyed by the inspirational series victory over Australia at home, India went to Zimbabwe with the unfamiliar tag of favourites. They fully justified that appraisal with a crushing eight wicket victory at Bulawayo that was harder than the margin suggests. It took a tailend assault in the first innings fashioned by Harbhajan Singh and Samir Dighe to hand India a decisive advantage and although the bowlers then made heavy weather of dismissing their opponents a second time, a final target of 184 was always going to be a canter, given the benign nature of the wicket. [Scorecard]

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