That Jumbo Ton! (2007)
Anil Kumble celebrates after scoring a century. (AFP)
India won the Test series in England in 2007, their first in 21 years. They drew the first and the third Test but secured a magnificent victory in the second at Nottingham, courtesy a potent Zaheer Khan.
However, it was not until the third Test at The Oval that an Indian player got to three figures. And it wasn’t one of their top order giants but the team’s most experienced bowler - Anil Kumble! The leg-spinner went on to score his first international century in the first innings, finishing unbeaten on 110 off 193 balls, a knock that included 16 fours and a six.
Interestingly, Kumble’s century denied India a unique record, of becoming the first side in Test history to register a 600-plus score without a century! Despite India’s mammoth 664, the visitors couldn’t force a win but the draw was enough to win the series.
On the flight home, wonder if Kumble reminded his more pedigreed batting colleagues that he was the only one among them to have made a hundred in the entire series.
Tendulkar Couldn’t, Gavaskar Couldn’t, But Agarkar gets on Honour’s Board (2002)
Two of India’s batting greats, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar, played a fair bit at the ground described as the home of cricket - Lord's, but neither got a hundred there. Well, Ajit Agarkar didn’t have much difficulty in making one and earn a spot on the coveted Honours board at the ground.
The former Indian all-rounder is in fact one of only nine Indian players to have scored a century at Lord’s.
Chasing a massive target of 568 in the first Test of the 2002 tour, India were on the brink of defeat when VVS Laxman and Ajit Agarkar combined to take the game to the final day. While latter’s innings ended on 74, Agarkar, whose average prior to the Test was 7.81, went on to bring up his maiden international century, producing some exquisite boundaries in the process.
He stitched together a final wicket stand of 63 runs with Ashish Nehra to frustrate the English bowlers, but his partner was finally dismissed on 19 to hand the hosts a 170-run win. Agarkar though, would have a permanent spot in Indian cricket history as a result of that effort.
When Nehra pulled a Viv! (2002)
Ajit Agarkar’s hundred may have earned the accolades but it was Ashish Nehra who produced the highpoint of the Indian innings on Day 5.
In the 63-run partnership with his fellow fast bowler, Nehra scored 19, a knock that included two boundaries and a maximum. The six he hit off Andrew Flintoff remains etched in memory as among the most audacious shots played at the ground. Nehra, the designated number eleven in most teams he played for, stepped back to the English quick, and hooked the ball over square-leg to clear the stands!
In an interview on Breakfast with Champions, Nehra reminisced about that incident, beaming with pride as he narrated that story proudly proclaiming that the only other person to have cleared the stands at Lord’s was none other than West Indies legend Viv Richards!
Debutant Trueman Leaves India Reeling at 0/4 (1952)
When Fred Trueman made his debut in the first Test of the four-match series in 1952, Vijay Merchant’s India had little idea of the storm they were running into. In the second innings, the cricketing world would gather what this Yorkshire bowler was made of.
On the back of three wickets in the first innings, the 21-year-old blew away the Indian top-order in the second innings with an extraordinary display of pace and precision.
A nasty bouncer, a slower one and an inside-edge, with an assist from Alec Bedser, left India overwhelmed at 0/4. The seamer returned later on to send Indian captain Vijay Merchant’s off-stump flying for his fourth. India did scramble to 165 from that precarious situation to avoid an embarrassingly low score but the hosts chased the 125-run target in 55 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Trueman, carrying on from his seven-wicket debut, finished with 29 wickets at 13.30 in the series, which the hosts won 3-0.
He would go on to become one of England’s greatest fast bowlers, becoming the first bowler in history to achieve 300 Test wickets.
Debutants Send Shockwaves on Test Introduction (1932)
Still under colonial rule, India played their first ever Test in 1932 against England at Lord’s. And almost immediately, produced a captivating passage of play that proved their promotion to Test status had been well deserved.
England elected to bat and were rattled by a 21-year-old Mohammad Nissar, as he went through the defences of openers Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe in his first spell, both of whom had stitched together 555 against Sussex mere days ago. A Frank Woodley run out left the home team at 19/3, leaving the crowd in disbelief.
The hosts, however, recovered from the early hiccup and managed to finish with 259 in the first innings.
Nissar would end up finishing the Test with figures of 6/135, inclusive of a five-wicket haul – the first ever by an Indian bowler. His bowling partner, Amar Singh, along with his four wickets in the Test, became
India’s first half-centurion, scoring 51 in the second innings!
Though England won the match, to no one’s surprise, Nissar and Singh had made sure India had made the world sit up and notice on their arrival into the big league.
First Published: July 29, 2018, 8:34 AM IST