India will clash with England in the four-match Test series starting in Chennai from the 5th of February. There have been some memorable performances by great Indian batsmen against England at home over the years. From Lala Amarnath’s hundred in 1933 to Tiger Pataudi’s 103 in Chennai in 1962, from Tendulkar’s unbeaten 103 in 2008 to Karun Nair’s triple century in 2016.
We analyze the three greatest performances by Indian batsmen against England at home. We take into account the runs scored, context and situation of the match and series and quality of opposition and then select the three highest impact batting performances.
1. Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi – 103 in Chennai in 1962
India were 1-0 up in the five-match series with one to play – the fifth and final Test in Chennai. England were desperate to draw level while India were searching for their maiden series win against their erstwhile colonial masters. Nari Contractor, the Indian captain won the toss and elected to bat first. Motganhalli Jaisimha was dismissed early but Contractor resurrected the innings with Vijay Manjrekar.
Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi joined his skipper with the score at 74 for 2. The pair put together 104 runs in quick time with Tiger Pataudi taking the attack to the England bowlers. Contractor was dismissed for 86 but Pataudi continued to be aggressive. He was finally dismissed with India on 273 for a magnificent 103 in just 162 minutes hammering 16 fours and 2 sixes in his knock.
Pataudi had made his debut in the third match of the series in Delhi and had registered his first Test hundred in just the third match of his career. Barely six months ago he had lost sight in his right eye in an accident in England.
For him to not only represent India but also score a hundred in his debut series spoke volumes of the ability, skill and temperament of Pataudi.
India went on to win the Chennai Test by 128 runs and with it sealed the series 2-0. Tiger Pataudi had lived up to his reputation and produced a series-defining performance in his very first series for India. It was a historic win for India – their first series triumph against England.
2. Mohammad Azharuddin – 182 in Kolkata in 1993
England were touring India in 1993. It was an important tour for both the countries. India were thrashed 4-0 in Australia and had also gone down to South Africa in their last Test series. The captain, Mohammed Azharuddin was under pressure to deliver. He had aggregated just 164 runs in his last 9 Test innings at an average of 18.22.
India elected to bat first at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. After a solid 49-run opening-wicket stand between Manoj Prabhakar and Navjot Sidhu, the home team lost wickets in quick succession and were in a spot of bother at 93 for 3 when skipper Mohammad Azharuddin joined Sachin Tendulkar at the crease. The pair put together a century stand which changed the course of the match. While Tendulkar was solid and playing a copybook classic Test match innings, Azharuddin was in the mood and took the attack to the England bowlers comprising Devon Malcolm, Chris Lewis amongst others.
Azharuddin continued to plunder post Tendulkar’s exit for 50. He was at his elegant and wristy best playing some delightful stokes during his marathon stay at the crease. While the other Indian batsmen struggled to score runs the captain was in a different zone. Not only was he piling on the runs but also doing so at a fair clip. He registered his hundred in 114 deliveries and went on to score a magnificent 182 off just 197 balls – his knock included 12 fours and a six which implied that he had got a majority of his runs placing the ball in the gaps running the ones and twos – which was a testimony to his fitness and running between the wickets. Azharuddin was an excellent judge of the singles and twos and also extremely quick between the wickets.
Azharuddin scored at a remarkable strike rate of 92.39 – it was the 8th fastest 150-plus score in Test cricket history then! He scored almost 50% of India’s total of 371. The spin trio of Anil Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju and Rajesh Chauhan (on debut) combined to take three wickets each to rout England for 163. Following on, they fared better but were still dismissed for 286 setting the home team just 79 for a win. The spinners again took 8 wickets as a collective. India won by 8 wickets.
The stylish Azhar had silenced his critics with a classy hundred and helped India take the lead in the series. When the chips were down and other stars failed with the bat he rose to the occasion and produced one of the best hundreds of his career.
India got the early momentum in the series and went on to register a clean 3-0 sweep. It marked the beginning of India’s domination at home in the decade – they did not lose a single Test series in India in the entire decade. Azharuddin had changed the course of Indian Test cricket history with his sublime hundred.
3. Virender Sehwag – 83 in Chennai in 2008
It was the series opener in Chennai in 2008. England had the upper hand in the Test and set India a highly unlikely target of 387 to chase down in the fourth innings declaring at Tea on Day 4. England were looking for some early inroads through their fast bowling trio of Steve Harmison, James Anderson and Andrew Flintoff.
Little did they know what was going to hit them!
Nobody expected India to win. Nobody expected India to even go for the win. Nobody but Virender Sehwag!
Sehwag took two boundaries of the second over of the chase off Anderson and made his intentions clear. He was going for the ultimate glory. He got two boundaries of the next over too – off Harmison. India were off to a flyer. Sehwag upper-cut Harmison for a flat six over backward point to end the fifth over and then welcomed Monty Pansesar depositing him into the deep mid-wicket stands for a maximum in the very next over. India had raced to 54 in the first 6 overs. They were batting at a run rate of 9. This was not T20 cricket! This was a Test match and that too the last innings with an entire day for India to bat tomorrow to save the match.
England did not know what had hit them. They were stunned. As much as the capacity crowd in the stadium in Chennai. Sehwag was producing something special. India were going for the win.
Sehwag registered his 50 off just 32 deliveries. He continued to plunder fours and sixes as India raced to their hundred in just 18 overs with the Nawab of Najafgarh contributing 73 off 57 deliveries. Sehwag was finally dismissed off the last ball of the 23rd over by Graeme Swann for a scintillating 83 off just 68 deliveries smashing 11 fours and 4 sixes and striking at a rate of 122.06.
He had put together a 117 run opening-wicket partnership with Gambhir and given India the platform for a record-breaking chase. India ended Day 4 at 131 for 1 in 29 overs and went into the dressing room as the more confident side leading into the final day. They came back and chased down the target on Day 5 with Sachin Tendulkar recording an unbeaten 103 and Yuvraj Singh undefeated on 85. India gunned down 387 in 98.3 overs with six wickets in the bag.
It was only the second time in India’s Test history that they had successfully chased down a 300-plus target in the fourth innings. The foundation of this historic chase was laid by Virender Sehwag whose destructive 83 turned the match on its head and put the England bowlers on the backfoot paving the way for a great Indian victory.