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Chandra's Magic in 1971 to Ishant’s Heroics in 2014 – Top Five Performances by Indian Bowlers in England

As the first Test between England and India looms, here’s our pick of five standout performances by Indian bowlers on English soil.

Akhil Nair |July 25, 2018, 2:09 PM IST
Chandra's Magic in 1971 to Ishant’s Heroics in 2014 – Top Five Performances by Indian Bowlers in England

While conditions in England are known to favour seam bowlers, interestingly, but unsurprisingly, three positions in the list of India’s top five wicket-takers in England are held by Anil Kumble (36), Bishan Singh Bedi (35) and Bhagwath Chandrasekhar (31), flanked by Kapil Dev at the top (43) and Zaheer Khan (31). As the first Test looms, here’s our pick of five standout performances by Indian bowlers on English soil.

Ishant Sharma – 7/74 at Lord’s (2014)


Ishant Sharma has played a pivotal role in two of India’s most famous Test wins – Perth in 2008 and Lord’s in 2014. He had only wicket to show his efforts in the second innings at Perth. However, at Lord’s, he had seven.

England had to chase 319 with over four sessions to play in the second Test. Following early wickets from Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami, Sharma got past Ian Bell’s defence and then found the outside edge of Alastair Cook’s blade for India’s fourth wicket.

Joe Root and Moeen Ali added 101 for the fifth wicket, but the last ball of the morning session on Day 5 undid all their efforts. Sharma, who was expensive in his first spell, bowled a sharp bouncer to Ali. The southpaw failed to cope with the sharp rise and ended up gloving to short-leg.

Buoyed by the wicket just before Lunch, Sharma continued keeping the length short, with square-leg and fine-leg positioned deep. Matt Prior, Ben Stokes and the well-set Root fell for the trap and Stuart Broad gloved behind to MS Dhoni for his seventh, putting Sharma on top of the best figures in an innings by an Indian bowler in England, and ensuring India won at Lord’s for the first time since 1986.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar – 6/38 at Lord’s (2014)


Ishant Sharma’s heroics on Day 5 wouldn’t have been possible without Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s all-round performance. His half-century in the second innings helped India set a competitive target and his six-wicket haul in the first innings ensured England could only muster a lead of 24 runs.

After India were bowled out early on Day 2, Kumar removed Alastair Cook and Sam Robson cheaply on either side of the drinks break and Ian Bell fell victim to a sharp rising delivery for his third. Gary Ballance’s fighting century steadied England’s innings, but his knock came to a tame end next morning, nibbling at Kumar’s delivery down the leg-side. A change of ends for his second spell yielded the wickets of Ben Stokes, cleaned up by an in-swinger, and Stuart Broad, edging to Shikhar Dhawan.

Kumar became the 13th Indian bowler to mark himself on the Lord’s Honours Board, emulating his fellow Meerut-born swing bowler, Praveen Kumar, who picked 5/106 in 2011. And the rest was done by Ishant Sharma.

Zaheer Khan – 4/59 and 5/75 at Nottingham (2007)

(Image Credit: AFP) (Image Credit: AFP)

At his prime, Zaheer Khan was arguably India’s finest fast bowler, and Nottingham witnessed that in 2007. Add jelly beans to the mix and he becomes unplayable.

Having escaped Lord’s with a draw, India dismissed England out for just 198 after electing to field first in the second Test, with the left-arm pacer doing the bulk of the damage. As Sreesanth choked the runs at the other end, Andrew Strauss and Michael Vaughan edged the left-arm seamer to first slip in his opening spell. Ian Bell was LBW during his evening burst, and along with Kumble, cleaned up the tail next morning.

After India had amassed 481 in reply, England remained unscathed on Day 3, but a fired up Zaheer Khan, feeling ‘insulted’ by the English players placing jelly beans while he was batting, removed Alastair Cook and Strauss either side of Lunch next day. Captain Michael Vaughan kept the hosts afloat with a century, but his watch ended with a freak dismissal, as the ball deflected off his thigh guard onto the stumps. Ian Bell was plumb two balls later and India smelled blood. Paul Collingwood was caught after a valiant half-century and Kumble wiped the tail in the evening.

India chased down the target by seven wickets to take an unassailable lead, eventually winning the series 1-0, and Khan finished as India’s leading wicket-taker with 18.

Anil Kumble - 3/93 and 4/66 at Leeds (2002)

(IMAGE: Getty) (IMAGE: Getty)

Anil Kumble has sent down an incredible 4027.3 overs for India in his international career. 62.5 of them came during one of India’s greatest Test victories, at Headingley in 2002.

After the batsmen piled 628/8 of the back of Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly’s centuries, the bowlers dismissed England twice in two and half days, with the senior bowler being the focal point.

Having dismissed Mark Butcher early, Kumble returned later on Day 3 to break Alex Stewart and Ashley Giles’ resilient stand and ended the England innings next morning.

The hosts followed-on, and so did Kumble. He finished with four wickets in the second innings, which included breaking the resistance of centurion Nasser Hussain on Day 5. His mammoth effort guided India to a win by an innings and 46 runs, and he regards it as the ‘defining moment’ of his career and Indian cricket.

Bhagwath Chandrasekhar – 6/38 at The Oval (1971)

(IMAGE: Getty) (IMAGE: Getty)

Among the performances mentioned above, none are romanticised as much as Bhagwath Chandrasekhar’s six-wicket haul (eight in the match) in the final Test of the 1971 series, a spell that gave Indian cricket one of its most cherished moments.

India conceded a 71-run lead after getting bowled out for 284 in reply to England’s 355 in the first innings. With just under two days remaining, the hosts would have been keen to capitalise and look for a series win, but the leg-spinner had other ideas.

India captain Ajit Wadekar, on seeing the wicket getting slower, introduced the spinners early on Day 4. And they, especially Chandrasekhar, delivered. After his fingertips ran out John Jameson early, he commenced an extraordinary session of bowling. John Edrich’s defence was breached on just his fifth ball and Keith Fletcher followed him the next delivery. His spin-partner, S. Venkataraghavan dismissed Basil D’Oliveria and Allan Knott in quick time before Chandrasekhar cleaned up the tail to dismiss England for a partly 101, finishing with the second-best figures by an Indian bowler in England at the time.

India, overcoming a nervous start, chased down 173 with four wickets to spare, registering their maiden Test as well as series victory on English soil.

Chandrasekhar, in his biography, revealed that he was on the verge of being dropped for the final Test but the team manager, Hemu Adhikari, and the captain stuck with the leg-spinner. What a call that proved to be!

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