Hammonds Sauce Works Band, playing in front of the Football Stand, was the indisputable success for England during a match which India won by a resounding margin in under three and a half days. This victory, their first in England outside London, gave them a decisive 2-0 lead in the three-match series. Summing up England's performance, their chairman of selectors said: "We were outplayed in every department."
It could be argued that there were extenuating circumstances. For the first time since 1978, England took the field without either Botham, who was suspended, or Gower, who, after practising on the Wednesday, withdrew to nurse a shoulder injury. Furthermore, Gooch, England's third player with pretensions to world class, had an unlucky but poor match. Whatever the reason, England, a summer tapestry in 1985, were ragged around the edges and coming apart at the seams one year later. It was an unhappy start to Gatting's term as captain.
First use of a quickly deteriorating pitch was to prove vital, and India won the toss. Lever, recalled at the age of 37 as the swing and seam expert to take advantage of Headingley's known idiosyncrasies, made a surprisingly nervous start, conceding 18 runs in his first two overs, and then 31 in seven. Pringle's steadying influence was heeded somewhat sooner than his captain might have anticipated. By the time Srikkanth paid his usual tax on impetuosity, India were 64 off twenty overs. To dismiss Gavaskar, who entered the match with a Test average of 51, was a bonus. Shastri and Vengsarkar added 53 in nineteen overs, and the latter went on to demonstrate his dominance of this series. Fifth out at 203, for 61, he batted for seven minutes over three hours while each partner in turn struggled at the other end.
India, resuming at 235 for eight, batted for eleven overs and two balls on the second morning, the late-order batsmen frustrating England's bowlers while adding 37 more runs. England's batsmen were similarly inconvenienced, failing immediately into trouble. With Chetan Sharma injured, India had sent for Madan Lal, the professional for Ashton in the Central Lancashire League, and the veteran of 38 Tests quickly demonstrated his mastery and experience of English conditions, providing support for Kapil Dev and inspiration for Binny. Slack was bowled second ball, Gooch was caught at gully off a ball from Kapil that kicked and Smith groped ineffectively at one that came back considerably. Either side of lunch (41 for four), Gatting and Lamb were the first victims in a spell by Binny that brought him four wickets for 17 in 37 balls. When Athey, surprisingly low at number six, turned Binny for 2 runs the crowd cheered an England score of 74 for eight, relieved that the follow-on figure had been passed.
India's first-innings lead of 170 looked unbeatable until England's bowlers learned to enlist the unpredictable surface. India's first three wickets fell for 29 runs and they were 70 for five at the close as the seam attack revelled, Lever having figures of three for 9 in 28 balls. Already, however, Vengsarkar had demonstrated, on the ground that nurtured Sutcliffe, Hutton and Boycott, the art of batting on a bad pitch. He returned on the Saturday to progress from 33 to 102 not out and prompt his tailenders into a caning of a dispirited attack, As at Lord's he reached his hundred in the company of Maninder Singh, the number eleven batsman. Gatting almost certainly must have wished that he could have exchanged one of his six batsmen for Edmonds, who had been omitted from England's squad along with Ellison.
Needing to score 408 to win, more than any side had achieved, England sought only survival. But with half the playing time remaining when the innings began, even that hope grew forlorn as six wickets fell for 90 runs in the 41.1 overs before the close on Saturday evening. The Indian spinners found that the pitch was adding turn to its erratic bounce, and on Monday morning, only another 75 minutes were required for England's humiliation to be completed, all out in 63.3 overs for a total of 128. In an innings of characteristic defiance, Gatting remained 31 not out.
The respective wicket-keepers, French, in his first Test and More in his second, made an excellent impression; as indeed did India's other wicket-keeper, Pandit, who was playing as a batsman in place of the injured Amarnath. The same, regretfully, can not be said of those spectators who tried to recreate the human wave effect by synchronised waving of the arms when Azharuddin was batting on Friday afternoon. Their mindless imitation of the football crowds at the World Cup in Mexico did not help the batsman's concentration and left Headingley's reputation as a ground for cricket lovers as much in tatters as the reputation of the England team.
The attendance on the first day was disappointingly small and for the match amounted to 33,850 with takings of £229,004. Vengsarkar was named Man of the Match.