Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid: star performers in England © Getty Images

Asian teams, coming from the heat and largely placid tracks of home, are generally expected to struggle during the early part of the English summer as they come to terms with the cold conditions and the seaming ball.

The first innings of the Lord's Test conformed to that script as the Sri Lankan batsmen crashed to 192 all out. However, facing a deficit of 359, Mahela Jayawardene scored his second century at Lord's in as many Tests as Sri Lanka pulled off the cricketing equivalent of Houdini's giant milk can escape and retorted with 537 for 9 before bad light ended the game. This week we look at how Asian players have fared in England.

That imposing firm of Rahul Dravid (87.66) , Sourav Ganguly (74) and Sachin Tendulkar (71.59) lead the list of highest averages in England. Seven of the top eight batsmen, Zaheer Abbas being the exception, have played predominantly after 1990, a time when England almost never had a settled bowling attack. Even so, none of the top six averages belong to openers, an indication that playing the new ball in England is not the easiest thing in the world no matter who's bowling.

Biggest difference in batting average for Asians in England - Tests (qualification: 6 innings, 2 series)
Player Span Mat Runs Ave 100 Eng Runs Ave 100 Diff
SC Ganguly (India) 1996-2002 88 5221 40.78 12 6 666 74.00 3 33.210
R Dravid (India) 1996-2002 100 8553 57.79 22 6 789 87.66 3 29.876
Saleem Malik (Pak) 1987-1996 103 5768 43.69 15 13 931 66.50 3 22.799
Ijaz Ahmed (Pak) 1987-1996 60 3315 37.67 12 7 494 54.88 1 17.218
SR Tendulkar (India) 1990-2002 132 10469 55.39 35 10 1074 71.59 4 16.209
KS More (India) 1986-1990 49 1285 25.69 0 6 247 41.16 0 15.466
Aamer Sohail (Pak) 1992-1996 47 2823 35.28 5 7 490 49.00 1 13.710
Mohsin Khan (Pak) 1978-1982 48 2709 37.10 7 6 501 50.10 1 12.990
Zaheer Abbas (Pak) 1971-1982 78 5062 44.79 12 9 841 56.06 2 11.266
MS Atapattu (SL) 1998-2002 88 5330 38.90 16 4 301 50.16 1 11.256

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  • Sunil Gavaskar , who scored 1404 runs at 70.20 as opener in the West Indies, managed only 1152 in 28 innings at 41.14 in England, a far cry from his career average of 51.12. Hanif Mohammad too averaged 41.87 as opener but struggled in England. His 15 innings at the top yielded just 302 runs but he managed an unbeaten 187 from the No. 4 slot to boost his average to 26.63.

    Among batsmen with the highest differences between overall averages and their figures in England, Hashan Tillakaratne is the only batsman from the 1990s to figure in the list. One reason for this could be because players are getting accustomed to English conditions while playing county cricket.

    Biggest difference in batting average for Asians in England - Tests (qualification: 6 innings, 2 series)
    Player Span Mat Runs Ave 100 Eng Runs Ave 100 Diff
    Haroon Rashid (Pak) 1978-1982 23 1217 34.77 3 4 34 5.66 0 -29.103
    PR Umrigar (India) 1952-1959 59 3631 42.22 12 8 273 18.19 1 -24.019
    KC Sangakkara (SL) 2002-2006 58 4311 47.37 9 4 191 27.28 0 -20.084
    CG Borde (India) 1959-1967 55 3061 35.59 5 7 200 16.66 0 -18.923
    P Roy (India) 1952-1959 43 2442 32.56 5 9 233 13.70 0 -18.854
    Hanif Mohammad (Pak) 1954-1967 55 3915 43.98 12 12 586 26.63 1 -17.353
    HP Tillakaratne (SL) 1991-2002 83 4545 42.87 11 5 164 27.33 0 -15.546
    Majid Khan (Pak) 1967-1982 63 3931 38.92 8 9 375 23.43 0 -15.482
    AV Mankad (India) 1971-1974 22 991 25.41 0 4 99 12.37 0 -13.035
    Wasim Raja (Pak) 1974-1982 57 2821 36.16 4 6 232 23.19 0 -12.970

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  • Most Indian spinners have performed below par in England. EAS Prasanna, Anil Kumble, Bishan Bedi , Srinivas Venkataraghavan, among others, average significantly more in England compared to their overall average. Their Pakistan counterparts, on the other hand, have fared better, with Mushtaq Ahmed's haul of 32 wickets from eight Tests being the best performance.

    Pakistan have 12 of the top 14 bowling averages for Asians in England but pride of place goes to Muttiah Muralitharan who picked up 16 for 220, the best figures for an Asian, in his first Test in England in 1998. Since then he has 11 wickets from three Tests and could play a pivotal role in the remaining two Tests of the ongoing series.

    This series is Chaminda Vaas's second in England which makes him eligible according to our criteria of appearing in at least two series. He had a terrible first outing in 2002, taking four wickets for 434 runs, and an insipid performance in the recent Lord's Test gives him an average of 93 in England compared to his overall 29.03.

    Biggest difference in bowling average for Asians in England - Tests (qualification: 300 balls, 2 series)
    Player Span Mat Wkts Ave 5 Eng Wkts Ave 5 Diff
    ED Solkar (India) 1971-1974 27 18 59.44 0 6 7 37.42 0 -22.011
    Asif Masood (Pak) 1971-1974 16 38 41.26 1 6 20 28.94 1 -12.309
    Sarfraz Nawaz (Pak) 1974-1982 55 177 32.75 4 6 17 22.82 1 -9.936
    Saleem Altaf (Pak) 1967-1971 21 46 37.17 0 4 10 29.00 0 -8.170
    Mudassar Nazar (Pak) 1978-1987 76 66 38.36 1 11 15 32.93 1 -5.426
    Ata-ur-Rehman (Pak) 1992-1996 13 31 34.54 0 3 8 30.25 0 -4.299
    Mushtaq Ahmed (Pak) 1992-1996 52 185 32.97 10 8 32 28.81 2 -4.157
    VS Hazare (India) 1946-1952 30 20 61.00 0 7 5 57.60 0 -3.399
    Asif Iqbal (Pak) 1967-1974 58 53 28.33 2 9 16 26.25 0 -2.089
    M Nissar (India) 1932-1936 6 25 28.28 3 4 18 26.55 2 -1.724

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  • Biggest difference in bowling average for Asians in England - Tests (qualification: 300 balls, 2 series)
    Player Span Mat Wkts Ave 5 Eng Wkts Ave 5 Diff
    WPUJC Vaas (SL) 2002-2006 91 303 29.03 11 4 6 93.00 0 63.969
    JR Ratnayeke (SL) 1984-1988 22 56 35.21 4 2 2 86.50 0 51.289
    SG Shinde (India) 1946-1952 7 12 59.75 1 3 2 94.00 0 34.250
    Saeed Ahmed (Pak) 1962-1971 41 22 36.45 0 9 3 69.66 0 33.216
    RJ Shastri (India) 1982-1990 80 151 40.96 2 9 11 70.63 0 29.676
    EAS Prasanna (India) 1967-1974 49 189 30.38 10 5 12 58.08 0 27.703
    CPH Ramanayake (SL) 1988-1991 18 44 42.72 1 2 4 61.75 0 19.020
    Nasim-ul-Ghani (Pak) 1962-1967 29 52 37.67 2 7 7 56.42 0 18.758
    A Kumble (India) 1990-2002 106 510 28.76 32 7 22 45.81 0 17.048
    Intikhab Alam (Pak) 1962-1974 47 125 35.95 5 12 23 49.73 1 13.789

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  • If there's a particular List that you would like to see, e-mail us with your comments and suggestions.

    George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo