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Reflections: India series wins in England – 1971

It’s time once again for yet another England v India test series in England. The latest 5 test series is due to start from August 4, 2021, and will be avidly watch and followed by the fans of both countries. 

We take this opportunity to reflect back on India’s test series wins in England.  Till date, India has triumphed in 3 test series on England soil held in 1971, 1986 and 2007.  Thus it is 14 years now that India has failed to win a test series on England soil and they have visited England 3 times since 2007, losing each time by big margins. 

We now look back at the historic 1971 test series in England,  when India, under Ajit Wadekar beat England 1-0.
England was coming out of a great Ashes series win in the previous winter under Raymond Illingworth’s astute captaincy. Just before India series, they beat a formidable Pakistan 1-0 and therefore were strong favourites to beat India, who by the way were fresh from a great first ever 1-0 series win in the West Indies just 2 months back. Reflections: India series wins in England – 1971.

With a strong England side in the opposition, India were the underdogs. However cricket at times  surprises fans and followers.

1st test Lords 

The 1st test was play at Lords. England batted first and scored 304 in the first innings. After an initial slump of 71/5  to the Indian spinners, the lower middle order of Alan Knott (67), John Snow(73) and skipper Illingworth (33) took England to 304.

India replied back with 313 helped by a sublime 85 from skipper Ajit Wadekar, with staunch support from Viswanath (68) & lefthanded  Solkar (63).

The Indian spinners led by Venkataraghavan (4/52) was brilliant in the 2nd innings as England were bowl out cheaply for 191 with Edrich scoring 63.

With 183 to win, India was progressing well on the last day and were 101/3 at one stage with Gavaskar (53) looking solid. However a final session slump saw them losing 5 wickets for 44 before they held onto a draw, ending at 145/8, still 37 behind,  against some fine spin bowling by Norman Gifford (4/43).

Reflections: India series wins in England - 1971
Ajit Wadekar image credits deccan herald

2nd Test Manchester:

The 2nd test was dominated by England. They put on 386 in the first innings with Illingworth (107) leading the way supported by  Peter Lever (88), Brian Luckhurst (78) and Knott (41).

India struggled hard against hostile fast bowling by Peter Lever ( 5/70). And was all out for 212 with Gavaskar scoring a high quality 57 in difficult swinging conditions and Solkar scoring 50. 

England rattled 245/3 in the 2nd innings helped by 101 from Luckhurst. Thus India was set up a big target of 420 and was left struggling at 65/3 in fourth innings at the end of the 4th day.

Luckily for India,  rains wash out the 5th day to deprive England of a possible win and the teams were still lock 0-0 before the final test. 

Reflections: India series wins in England - 1971
image credits sports360, featurd image credits espncricinfo

3rd Test  Oval:

England batted first and scored an impressive 355 in the 1st innings. With solid contributions from Jameson (82), Edrich (41), Knott (90) & Richard Hutton (81).

In reply, after the 2nd day was wash out, India batted solidly with good contributions from Wadekar (48), Sardesai (54), Engineer (44) & Solkar (59). Illingworth (5/70) was very accurate with his spinners restricting the tourists to 284. Thus England got a 71 run vital 1st innings lead. 

The 4th day became the series decider. In a good first-innings lead, England batting collapsed in a heap to the guiles of the spin trio Chandrasekhar, Venkat and Bedi. Chandra was unplayable and with the help of sharp close in catching. He created huge pressure in the famed England batting lineup. Therefore, his googlies, leg breaks and flippers had the English batting in total disarray. As well as, they were blown away for 101 leaving India to score 173 for a historic series win. Chandra had figures of 6/38 which is a part of Indian cricket folklore. 

Indian batsmen batted very carefully in the 2nd innings after an early scare of 37/2. Wadekar (45), Sardesai (40),  Viswanath (33) and Engineer (28no) batted as if their life depended on it. Finally, India reached the target on day 5 after a grim battle with Underwood (3/72) bowling well. As, India won by 4 wickets and after the winning run was hit the fans swarm the Oval. As the proud Indian captain watched the sea of humanity from the balcony.

Reflections: India series wins in England - 1971
BS Chandrasekhar image credits tv9news

That was the first historic series triumph by India on England soil. Which is inscribe in golden letters in Indian cricket history.

The Indian spinners bowled superbly whenever it mattered most and the close-in fielders Solkar and Abid Ali were world-class. The batters chip in with important contributions though no centuries were score from India. 

It was a low scoring series. For India Wadekar (204) was the highest run-getter follow by Engineer (172), Solkar (168), Sardesai (147), Gavaskar (144) & Viswanath (128). Chandra and Venkat (13 each) were the jointly highest wicket-takers follow by Bedi (11).


For England, Luckhurst (244) was the highest run-getter follow by Knott (233).  John Price and Illingworth (8 wickets each were the top wicket-takers for England jointly in the series.

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