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Kapil, Ganguly-Dravid and that man Ajit: Revisiting India's best Test performances at Lord's 

India's record at this iconic ground has not been impressive at all. But there have been occasions when the Lord's crowd has applauded some epic individual efforts from Indian greats.

Published: 12th August 2021 07:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2021 07:37 AM   |  A+A-

India's Virat Kohli walks to the nets during a practice session ahead of the second cricket test between England and India at Lord's cricket ground in London. (Photo | AP)

Online Desk

With the first Test at Trent Bridge washed out, India and England will resume the second chapter of their iconic rivalry at Lord's this Thursday.

It is often said that for visiting teams in England, a Test at Lord's becomes crucial if they want to gain momentum over the hosts.

While India have played 18 Tests so far since 1932 at this iconic ground, their record there has not been impressive at all. With two wins, four draws and eleven defeats, the venue has always tested the Indian batters. 

But there have been occasions when the Lord's crowd, known for their generous appreciation of good cricket, has applauded some epic individual efforts from Indian greats. Let's revisit some of these happy memories.

Mohammad Nissar's 5/32 in India's debut Test

Team India or 'All-India', as they were known then, led by the Maharaja of Porbandar, embarked on their second-ever England tour in 1932. It was their first-ever tour across the seas after getting the ICC's full member status. They played 37 games during the tour, including 26 List A fixtures. Their maiden Test at Lord's turned out to be a quite magnificent affair.

The team, which had players like CK Nayudu and the Ali brothers (Wazir and Nazir), also had pacers like Mohammed Nissar and Amar Singh, with Jahangir Khan completing the triumvirate. Batting first, England got a rude shock as Nissar uprooted the stumps of openers Herbert Sutcliffe and Percy Holmes in his second over. It was an achievement in itself, not just because Nissar had become the first man to take a wicket for India in Tests, but also because the same England openers were involved in a record opening partnership of 555 runs for Yorkshire leading up to the game. 

(Photo | YouTube)

In his 26-over spell in first innings, Nissar returned figures of 5-93. His fiery spell jolted the English camp as they were reduced to 19-3, before the likes of Wally Hammond, skipper Douglas Jardine and wicketkeeper Les Ames took them to a respectable 259.

In the second innings, Nissar was unable to recreate the magic and his spell read 1-42 in 18 overs. Although India lost the match by 158 runs, it underlined the arrival of Nissar who went on to finish the tour with 71 wickets at an average of 18.09.

By the time he ended his career at the Oval Test in the 1936 tour, he and Amar Singh had earned the respect of the cricketing world for being one of the best new-ball attacks in the 1930s, with Nissar remaining the fastest Indian pacer before World War II.

After independence, Nissar went on to form the Pakistan Cricket Board in 1947 and spent the remaining 16 years of his life in Lahore.

Vinoo Mankad's all-round act

While the Lord's has two Honours Boards for batters and bowlers, only nine names in the history of Test cricket have made it to both of them thanks to their all-round efforts at the 'Mecca of Cricket'. 

India legend Vinoo Mankad is one of the nine.

India's 1952 England tour was not so special for the visitors. They played four Tests, lost three and drew one. 

The second Test between the two sides in Lord's, between June 19-24, saw India winning the toss and batting first but failing to grab the advantage. Except Mankad (72) and skipper Vijay Hazare (69), no other batter could survive for long against the home side's bowling line-up consisting of legends like Alec Bedser, Fred Trueman and Jim Laker. 

In reply, England captain Leonard Hutton's 150, followed by supporting acts from Reg Simpson (53), Peter May (74), Tom Graveney (73) and wicketkeeper Godfrey Evans (104) took the home side's first innings total to 537.

(Photo | YouTube)

Mankad, who opened in both of India's innings, bowled for 73 overs and grabbed a five-for in exchange of 196 runs.

In the second innings too, Mankad fought a lone battle with a magnificent innings of 184 runs, supported again by his skipper Hazare who made 49. Unfortunately, stalwarts like Pankaj Roy, Polly Umrigar and Vijay Manjrekar had an outing to forget.

Despite India putting up a respectable 378 in their second essay, England knocked off the 77-run target, losing just two wickets.

Chetan Sharma leads India to its maiden victory at Lord's

In 1986, India embarked on another tough Test tour in England. However, this time their morale was high on the back of their fairytale World Cup win three years back at the same country. 

One of the early talking points was England losing the two-match ODI series because of a poorer run rate, despite the series being drawn at 1-1. But soon the 20-year-old Chetan Sharma's hostile spell in the first Test at Lord's pushed everything else to the sidelines and headlined India's historic 2-0 win over the hosts, their second series win on UK soil in 16 years.  

In the Test at Lord's, played between June 5-10, India won the toss and opted to bowl.

Besides Graham Gooch's 114 and Derek Pringle's 63, there was not much to talk about in the hosts' batting efforts as Sharma's spell of 5-64 in 32 overs restricted England to 294. The home side's famed middle-order of David Gower, Mike Gatting and Allan Lamb could manage only 24 runs between them as they became victims of Sharma's disciplined line and length.

(Photo | YouTube)

India guided by Mohinder Amarnath's 69 and Dilip Vengsarkar's 126, posted 341 runs in their reply and got a 47-run lead. 

In second innings, it was the turn of Kapil Dev, whose efforts of 4-52 in 22 overs saw England being bowled out for 180, giving India a below-par target of 134, which they then chased down losing five wickets.

Kapil might have been adjudged the man of the match, but it was Chetan Sharma's five-for which had set the tone for India's maiden Test win at Lord's. 

Kapil Dev's four sixes in an over

While Team India's 1990 tour of England was known for the debut of legendary leg-spinner Anil Kumble, for Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar scoring his first-ever Test century at the age of 17 and last but not the least Graham Gooch's 333 at Lord's, there was also Kapil Dev's four sixes in an over at the same ground.

Guided by Gooch's triple ton and hundreds from Allan Lamb and Robin Smith, England posted a massive first innings total of 653/4 after India decided to bowl first.

In reply, skipper Mohammad Azharuddin and Ravi Shastri struck hundreds, while Dilip Vengsarkar scored a classy knock of 52, but could not convert it into a ton.

Despite all this, when Kapil Dev came to the crease, India were still over 300 runs behind at 348-6. He kept losing partners at the other end and eventually the Haryana Hurricane had only number eleven Narendra Hirwani for company. The visitors still needed 24 runs to avoid the follow-on. What followed next was nothing short of a miracle.

After blocking the first two balls from spinner Eddie Hemmings, the veteran all-rounder decided to go for the best form of defence i.e. attack. After dancing down the surface and hitting the third ball over the long-on boundary for a six, Kapil sent the next ball, bowled at full length, among the spectators with a flat hit. 

(Photo | YouTube)

Hemmings' next two deliveries met the same fate as 24 runs were scored from that over, with India moving from 430-9 to 454, thereby saving the follow-on. Hirwani's duck probably deprived Kapil of a well-deserved century as he remained unbeaten at 77. Hemmings ended with figures of  2-109 in 20 overs with an economy rate of 5.45, miserable figures going by the standards of Test cricket.

Skipper Gooch made another superb 123 in second innings and guided England to 272/4. Chasing a target of 472, India got bowled out for 224 and lost the match by 247 runs.

The next two Tests became run fests. With Gooch's men winning the series 1-0, India returned with the memories of Tendulkar's maiden ton, 2-0 ODI series win and Kapil's heroics at the 'Mecca of Cricket'.

Sourav Ganguly's debut hundred

The 1996 tour didn't bring too many good memories for Indian fans as the team led by Mohammed Azharuddin lost the three-match Test series 0-1. They played an equal number of ODIs, only to go down by a 0-2 margin. The English summer also grabbed the headlines due to the spat between opener Navjot Singh Sidhu and Azhar, resulting in the Punjab veteran leaving the ODI series midway, followed by a change in captaincy.

Coming back to the Tests, India came to Lord's after losing the first game in Edgbaston by eight wickets. With Sanjay Manjrekar's poor form hurting the visitors repeatedly, the team management decided to go for Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid in the middle order, while promoting Nayan Mongia up the order as Vikram Rathour's opening partner.

Being sent into batting first, England, propelled by wicketkeeper Jack Russell's 124 and Graham Thorpe's 89, finished their first innings at 344. For India, Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad shared eight wickets between them. Notably, Prasad grabbed a five-for in this game, after making his Test debut in the previous encounter.

(Photo | YouTube)

In response, India didn't have a good start, losing both Rathour and Mongia cheaply. Debutant Ganguly, who already claimed two wickets with the ball, came out at number three. The dismissals of Sachin Tendulkar, skipper Azhar and Ajay Jadeja left India reeling at 202-5, with England's new-ball attack of Chris Lewis, Dominic Cork and Alan Mullally leaving quite an impression.

However, their dreams of knocking out India of the game were shattered by Ganguly's brilliant 131 and Dravid's (who came out to bat at number six) 95 as India ended their first innings at 429, gaining an 85-run lead.

Ganguly showed no nerves on his Test debut as he square cut and drove the English bowlers at will and made the fans believe that he fully belonged in the game's longest format. The lion's share of his 20 boundaries came on the offside, something that later went on to earn him the title of 'God of Offside'. While Dravid carried on after Ganguly's departure, he was caught behind by Russell off a brilliant outswinger by Chris Lewis, thereby falling agonisingly short of his debut century. If he would have got those runs, it would have been quite a busy day for those in charge of maintaining the Lord's batting Honours Board.

The match ended in a draw as England ended their second innings at 278/9.

Ganguly got a scalp in this outing too, dismissing Russell for 38. He went on to play another knock of 136 in the following Test at Nottingham, with Dravid too chipping in with 84. This run feast too ended in a draw with both the teams crossing the 500-run mark in first innings.

While Dravid, Ganguly, along with Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, went on to form Test cricket's dreaded 'Fab Four' and dominated the game in next 12 years, it took a Devon Conway from New Zealand to break Dada's 25-year-old record at the Mecca of Cricket, as he went on to achieve a debut double ton.  

Ajit Agarkar kills the 'Bombay Duck' at Lord's

The Mumbai pacer, who burst onto international cricket with the wicket of Adam Gilchrist in his debut ODI against the Aussies at Kochi in 1998, became quite a sensation soon, due to his ability of bowling both conventional and reverse swing, along with yorkers at speeds more than 90 mph (140-150 kph), despite being way shorter than his new-ball partners Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad.

Agarkar held the record of being the fastest to claim 50 ODI wickets till 2009, surpassing the great Dennis Lillee in his 23rd match. He was also the quickest to the double of 200 wickets and 1000 runs in the shorter version. He edged past South Africa's Shaun Pollock to have this record in his 133rd match.

Agarkar used to be a pinch hitter at number three in ODIs during early 2000s, with knocks like 50 in 21 deliveries against Zimbabwe in the year 2000 or 95 against West Indies in 2002 at Jamshedpur. 

However, in Test cricket, it was a completely different picture. During India's 1999-2000 tour of Australia, he scored seven consecutive ducks (four of them first ball) and got the nickname 'Bombay Duck'.

The 2002 Lord's Test was all about how the pacer killed the duck.

India started the UK tour that year with a bang, chasing down 326 runs against England at Lord's and winning the Natwest Trophy tri-series, with Sri Lanka being the third team.

(Photo | YouTube)

Both the teams met again at the same venue, 12 days after that historic ODI, to kickstart the four-Test match series.

Played between July 25-29, England won the toss and batted first. Guided by skipper Nasser Hussain's 155 and supported by fifties from John Crawley, Andrew Flintoff and Craig White, they posted 487 in first innings. Another highlight of that innings was pacer Simon Jones's 43-ball 44 helping the home side to add 97 runs for last two wickets.

In reply, besides Virender Sehwag's 84, no other Indian batsman could even cross the fifty-run mark and  the visitors managed only 221. In the second innings, centuries from Michael Vaughan and Crawley gave India a steep target of 568.

Things looked bleak for India in the fourth innings too, with Agarkar coming out to bat with the score at 170/6 towards the end of day four. 

While England hoped to wrap up things quickly going by Agarkar's not-so-good batting stats, the latter had other plans. He first forged a 126-run partnership with VVS Laxman. From 296-7, India went on to add 101 runs, most of which was scored by Agarkar alone. His final score read 109* in 190 deliveries, with 16 boundaries. The 170-run loss didn't make the visitors' balcony too gloomy either as they appreciated the knock with big smiles on their faces.

The fightback also inspired Ganguly and Co, as they went on draw the Test series 1-1, with Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar occupying three out of the top four run scorers' slots. 

Rahul Dravid finally gets his dream Lord's hundred

While the 2011 England tour was a horror story for Team India, who lost all the four Tests, the sole T20 and three out of five ODIs, and sustained countless injuries throughout the two-month long assignment, it was one last hurrah for 'The Wall' Rahul Dravid, in the twilight of his glorious career.

While Dravid was key in India's 1-1 fightback in the same conditions six years earlier, he also joined the league of gentlemen like Ajit Wadekar and Kapil Dev in 2007, when he led the visitors to their third series win on UK soil.

However, the only thing missing in Dravid's fairytale England diary was a century at the Mecca of Cricket. In 1996, when he made his debut with Sourav Ganguly, the latter went on to score a brilliant 131, while the Karnataka legend missed the landmark by five runs.

India started the series opener at Lord's on the wrong foot, losing their pace spearhead Zaheer Khan (who dismissed both in-form Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss on the very first day) to a hamstring injury, after bowling some 13.3 overs. The home side, which had made headlines a few months ago by beating Aussies 2-1 in the Ashes Down Under, didn't let the opportunity go as their main tormentor limped out of the series.

Rahul Dravid. (File | AP)

Kevin Pietersen made 202 runs and seventies from Jonathon Trott and wicketkeeper Matt Prior made things worse for the visitors as England ended their first innings at 474-8. Despite Pravin Kumar's five-for on his Lord's debut, the Indian bowling looked completely out of sorts in Zaheer's absence with skipper MS Dhoni himself having a brief spell of eight overs of medium pace. 

India's reply started on a good note, as they reached 158-2 in the 43rd over of their innings. 

With both Dravid and Tendulkar chipping away at England's massive total on a third-day Lord's pitch, which looked good for batting, Indian fans were hoping that their team will give a close fight to their opponents and show the world why they were world champions (India won their second 50-over World Cup a few months earlier at home).

However, disaster hit the Indian camp as Tendulkar, who was looking positive at 34 , got dismissed by Stuart Broad. India could manage only 128 runs from there on. 

While Dravid saw the likes of Laxman, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni perishing at the hands of Broad, James Anderson and Chris Tremlett, he kept on fighting and stayed not out at 103 when the final wicket fell at 286. His 220-ball knock with 15 exquisite boundaries and his passionate celebration after registering his name on the Honours Board forced the entire cricketing world to applaud the effort.

Although India lost the match by 196 runs, the series went on to be called 'Dravid vs England', as he scored 461 runs in eight innings at an average of 76.83. He added two more hundreds to that tally, with both of them coming in the first innings' of Trent Bridge and Oval Tests, where he had to open due to the absence of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.

Bhuvneshwar and Ishant lead India to its second Lord's victory 

Three years after the 0-4 humiliation, India was again back in the UK, with the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman being replaced by youngsters Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. Prior to the tour, India played four Tests in South Africa and New Zealand, going down in two of them.

After the run fest at Trent Bridge, both the teams landed at Lord's, with the series drawn at 0-0. 

Being sent to bat first on a lush green pitch, India slumped to 145-7 on day one. However, Rahane, who had brilliant tours in South Africa and New Zealand earlier in 2014, counterattacked Anderson and Co and with the help of tailenders took the visitors to 295. Not to forget, he himself got his name etched on the Honours Board through his innings of 103.

(Photo | YouTube)

In reply, England, which was in transition after the 0-5 horror loss in Australia and 0-1 loss against Sri Lanka at home, failed to secure a big first-innings lead as Bhuvneshwar's spell of 6-82 meant they could manage only 319 runs. Gary Ballance was the top scorer with a knock of 110.

In the second innings, India, led by handy contributions from Murali Vijay (95), Cheteshwar Pujara (43), Ravindra Jadeja (68) and Bhuvi (52), gave the home side a challenging fourth innings target of 319.

It was the turn of Ishant Sharma to turn the wrecker-in-chief this time around. His early burst removed the top order of Alastair Cook, Ballance and Ian Bell to leave England at 72-4. However, the 101-run partnership between Joe Root and Moeen Ali brought England back into the game.

With the brutal memories of Aussie pacer Mitchell Johnson's fiery spells tearing apart Cook's men in the Ashes Down Under, skipper Dhoni brought back Ishant and instructed him to go short-pitched at the Poms. The tactic worked as Ali couldn't keep down Sharma's unplayable bouncer and ended up handing a catch to Pujara standing at short leg.

(Photo | YouTube)

Sharma stuck to Dhoni's suggestion and dismissed Root, Prior and Ben Stokes, all in the same fashion, forcing them to attack short-pitched deliveries. From 173-4, England ended up at 223, 95 runs short of their target. For his spell of 7-74, Ishant was adjudged the man of the match.

Although the home side went on to win the remaining three Tests, the 2014 tour was best remembered for India's second victory at the iconic ground after 28 years.



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