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After the historic 1971 series win, India had 3 successive test series losses in England in 1974, 1979 and 1982. In 1986, the Kapil Dev led India reached England shores. This was a strong team with many legends and they had earlier narrowly missed out on winning a test series in Australia in the previous winter. England by contrast was decimated by the West Indies 5-0 in a five-test series in the Caribbean only a month ago. Therefore India had better momentum going into the series. These are the Reflections: India series win in England 1986-

1st Test  Lords : 

The first test was played at Lords. England batted first and struggled to reach 294 allout helped by a laboured 114 by Graham Gooch & a resolute 63 by Derek Pringle.  Chetan Sharma (5/64)  bowled with fire and Binny (3/55) swung it around to cause most of the damage.

India in reply had a steady start but a superb 3rd wicket partnership. By an aggressive Mohinder Amarnath and an elegant Dilip Vengsarkar set them on their way. Amarnath made a sparkling 69 and after his dismissal, it was a Dilip Vengsarkar show. He controlled the lower half of the innings brilliantly to carve out a dazzling 126 not out, his 3rd 100 at Lords–  the only overseas player to have achieved the same. His strokeplay , the flowing off drives , on drives , flicks and the occasional pull mesmerised the Lords crowd.  Due to Vengsarkar, India reached 341. A vital lead of 47.

In the England 2nd innings, Kapil Dev swung the ball around to rattle the England. Top order as they were reeling at 35/3. Gatting (39) & Lamb’s(40) efforts took them to 180 as the Indian bowlers choked them for runs particularly left-arm spinner  Maninder Singh (3/9 in 20.4 overs). Kapil Dev (4/52) was the chief destroyer.

India chased 134 winning target in the 4th innings. It was a very nervy chase with England getting wickets at regular intervals. Vengsarkar (33) played long enough and later Kapil Dev hit a quickfire 23 not out off 10 balls to take India over the line along with Shastri (20 not out). 

Thus India created history by winning their first ever test at Lords by 5 wickets.

Reflections: India series win in England 1986
Dilip Vengsarkar image credits crictracker

2nd Test  Leeds 

India went into the 2nd test with a weakened lineup due to the injury of Mohinder Amarnath and Chetan Sharma. Two of the successes at Lords.

It was very difficult batting conditions at Leeds with the ball swinging and seaming around. India batted first and did well to reach 272 courtesy of another fine 61 from Vengsarkar and a spate of 20s and 30s. It was very tough to play a long innings with the balls swinging around right throughout the day.

In reply England were blown away for just 102 by outstanding swing bowling from Roger Binny (5/40) and Madan Lal (3/18) who replaced injured Chetan Sharma for this match .  

With a huge 170 run lead conceded, England was effectively out of the series. 

In the 2nd innings, the England bowlers  John Lever (4/64) & Derek Pringle (4/73) tried their best and even reduced India to 102/6. However, Dilip Vengsarkar again rose like a colossus and played one of the finest innings of his career in very difficult batting conditions. His dazzling 102 not out with some support from the lower order took  India to relative safety as the tourist reached 237 thus setting England an impossible 4th innings target of 408. Reflections: India series win in England 1986.

England duly succumbed to 128 all out in the 2nd innings. Lost by 279 runs with Maninder Singh (4/26), Binny (2/18) and Kapil Dev (2/24) being the chief wreakers.   

Thus India won a series for the 2nd time in England,  15 years after the 1971 triumph, by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead with 1 test to play .

Reflections: India series win in England 1986
image credits, featured image credits the hindu

3rd Test:  Birmingham

With the series already won, India wanted to end on a high. The 3rd test was a gripping contest.

England batted 1st and with the help of Mike Gatting’s outstanding 183 not out managed to put 390 on the board. 

India in reply had good contributions from most of their batters to reach the same score – 390.  Amarnath top scored with 79, followed by Azharuddin (64), More (48) & Binny (40).  Foster (3/93) was the highest wicket-taker for England.

England in 2nd innings was rattled by Chetan Sharma (6/58), who was brilliant in the series. None of the England batters managed a big score as they succumbed to 235 all out early on day 5.

With 236 to win, Indian batters struggled on a pitch gripping and taking spin. Edmonds(4/31) looked ominous. Gavaskar made a solid 54 but cheap dismissals of Amarnath (16), Vengsarkar (0) and Shastri (0) forced India to shut down shop and play for a draw. Azharuddin(29no) & Kiran More (31no) held on till the end to ensure a 2-0 series win and no consolation win for England.  India reached 174/5 in 2nd innings when the match was drawn. 

It was series which India dominated in emphatic fashion.  For the tourists, Dilip Vengsarker ( 360 runs at 90 average) was the outstanding batsman of the series with 2 100s in tough conditions. And duly got the Man of the Series award. Amarnath (172 in 2 tests), Gavaskar (175), Azharuddin (157) and Kiran More (156) were the other main run-getters.

In bowling, Chetan Sharna was excellent with 16 wickets in just 2 tests. Binny (12), Maninder (12) & Kapil Dev (10) were other wicket-takers. Skipper Kapil Dev astutely led the team. 


For England, Mike Gatting (293) was the main run-getter followed by Gooch (175). Pringle (13) and Dilley (10) were the 2 leading wicket-takers for England in the series.

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