India’s best Test cricket moments at Leeds
Leeds, Headingley which is traditionally a venue where ball swings, has been a very happy hunting ground for India as the tourists are yet to lose a test match here in the last 54 years. The last time India lost a test at Leeds was in 1967 and since then it has won 2 and drawn one test. England has won the initial 3 tests vs India at Leeds.
The drawn test was a rain-marred one in 1979. England batted first and after a poor start of 89/5 was rescued by Ian Botham who scored an imperious 137 with 10 fours and 5 sixes as he took England to 270. In reply India, too were off to a poor start at 12/3 before Gavaskar (78), Yashpal (40) and Vengsarkar (65*) settled the nerves and played out a draw. India scoring 223/6.
Now let’s revive the two outstanding wins –
2nd Test Ind v Eng 1986
In 1986 India registered their first-ever win at Leeds on an extremely challenging surface. Batting first, India scored 272 with small contributions from all the top order players including Vengsarkar (61). Later Kiran More (36) batted well. For England Dilley and Pringle took 3 wickets each.
In reply, England was blown away for 102 due to brilliant seam and swing bowling by Roger Binny (5/40) and Madan Lal (3/18). For England Athey top scored with 32. Binny will his skilled swing bowling looked almost unplayable.
In the 2nd innings, India was rocked early at 35/4 against fine seam bowling. However, Dilip Vengsarkar, fresh from his Lords 100, took centre stage and played a glorious innings full of drives, cuts and flicks. He got good support from Kapil Dev (31), Madanlal (22) and Binny (24) as he ensured with his unbeaten 102, that India get into a strong position in the low scoring match.
Set 408 to win, England were never in the hunt having done marginally better in the 2nd innings. Brilliant bowling from Maninder Singh (4/26), Roger Binny(2/18) and Kapil Dev(2/24) ensured emphatic win for the tourists by 279 runs with hosts allout 128 in the 2nd innings. India took a 2-0 unassailable lead in the series and won the 2nd ever test series in England. Vengsarkar for his brilliant batting in most challenging conditions in both innings was declared the man of the match .
3rd Test Ind v Eng 2002
India’s next Leeds test win was their brilliant innings victory in 2002.
On a cloudy morning, Sourav Ganguly won the toss and batted. Ian Botham, who was broadcasting the toss asked him ” are you sure ?” Indeed it looked like a bowling day with overcast conditions. Talking about team selections, India showed the audacity to play both their spinners in this test.
The ball was swing and seaming. India lost Sehwag (8) early but Sanjay Bangar and Rahul Dravid put on a gallant stand of 170 to nullify a first-day overcast conditions advantage for England. It was a gallant innings from Sanjay Bangar (68) playing everything on merit and his 68 was worth more than a 100 on those conditions against a bowling lineup of Hoggard, Caddick, Alex Tudor and Flintoff. Dravid was all technique, temperament and skills. Playing close to his body, he gave a demonstration of how to play in these challenging conditions .played many glorious shots in his knock. His elegant drives were a treat to the eyes. India ended at 236/2 on day 1 and Dravid (110*) completed a century for the ages.
On day 2 it was a batting masterclass from all 3 of the greats. After Dravid (148) finally got out, Sachin and Sourav looked million dollars and piled on the runs and further agony. Strokes flowed all over Leeds as both put the England attack to the sword thriving on the start of Dravid and Bangar. Sourav (128) was elegance personified and Sachin was ruthless. India batted on till early 3rd day. Sachin (193) could not complete his double but this was an innings he will be very proud of, playing in difficult batting conditions. India piled on 628/8.
A glimpse of the brilliant Sachin-Sourav partnership at Leeds
England with 429 the follow on saving target was up against a rejuvenated Indian bowling attack. Zaheer and Agarkar bowled some superb spells and the spinners Kumble and Harbhajan dominated. None of the England batters thrived on their starts. Only Vaughan (61) and Stewart (78*) passed fifties as the Indian bowlers kept getting regular breakthroughs. England was all out 273 and followed on. For India Kumble and Harbhajan took 3 wickets each while Zaheer and Agarkar took 2 wickets each.
In the 2nd innings, England was under immense scoreboard pressure. Same story as in the first innings with top-order not capitalising on the starts. Key (34) and Butcher (42) played resolutely. Later Stewart (47) looked determined but by now Kumble was exploiting the wear and tear of the pitch on the 4th and 5th day and kept picking up wickets.
Hussain’s gallant unbeaten 110 could not save England on the 5th day as the Indian bowlers worked their way through the innings and England finally getting 309 all out and losing by an innings and 46 runs. Kumble (4/66) was the most successful bowler in the 2nd innings.
Dravid for his majestic 148 took the man on the match and India tied the series 1-1 which finally ended at the same score.