Last Man Standing (2011)
Player of the series from a side that was whitewashed? Seems unlikely, but that is what Rahul Dravid achieved, sharing the award with Stuart Broad after the four-match series in 2011. As India suffered a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the hosts, the veteran stood tall with solid performances – one of those being his defiance in the first innings.
Dravid had to open in place of Gautam Gambhir, who suffered a concussion while fielding. As wickets kept tumbling at the other end, the former Indian captain stood firm, scoring an unbeaten 146 to carry his bat through the innings. His effort allowed India to post 300 for the first time in the series. However, that wasn’t enough for the away side to avoid the follow-on, eventually losing the Test by an innings-and-eight-runs.
Anil Kumble – Test Centurion (2007)
For the first time in 21 years, India managed to win a Test series in England, doing so in the 2007 series by a 1-0 margin. Only one Indian scored a century in that series, and it wasn’t one from their star-studded batting line-up. It was Anil Kumble! The leg-spinner went on to score the first international century of his career, finishing unbeaten on 110 in the third Test at The Oval.
Despite India’s mammoth 664, the visitors couldn’t force a win on the final day but the draw cemented India’s series win. 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.
Dravid’s Third Consecutive Test Century (2002)
India headed to The Oval Test in the 2002 series with their tails up, having secured a series-levelling victory at Headingley. However, England bounced back at The Oval amassing 515 in the first innings, with Michael Vaughan leading the way with 195. In reply, Rahul Dravid continued from where he left off at Headingley going on to register another three-figure score – his third in three consecutive Test innings. He played the role of the anchor while the others played cameos around him. Eventually, Dravid was run-out for 217, lasting more than 10 hours at the crease. India conceded a slender seven-run lead in the first innings, but a washed out final day resulted in the Test ending as a draw and the series was shared.
Gavaskar Nearly Leads India to the Impossible (1979)
Facing a mammoth 438 with a little over a day to go, most sides would have been eyeing for a draw. However, Sunil Gavaskar had other ideas. Alongside Chetan Chauhan, he stitched together a partnership of 213 runs for the first wicket – the highest by an Indian opening pair at the venue. Despite losing his partner, Gavaskar carried on in the same vein with Dilip Vengsarkar at the other end. He reached his double century with India’s score at 336 for two, firmly on course to making history.
But Vengsarkar’s dismissal, followed by Kapil Dev’s early wicket after being promoted up the order, opened the floodgates. Gavaskar departed soon after and India held on to a draw with only two wickets in hand, falling short of the target by just nine runs.
Chandra’s Series-Winning Spell (1971)
Among the numerous performances by Indian players at The Oval, none weigh more in comparison to Bhagwath Chandrasekhar’s six-wicket haul in the final Test of the 1971 series - a spell that delivered one of Indian cricket’s greatest triumphs.
Facing a 71-run lead after getting bowled out for 284 in reply to England’s 355, the leg-spinner turned the game with an exhibition of quality spin bowling. India captain Ajit Wadekar entrusted his spinners to come good on a slow wicket on Day 4, and they did.
Chandrasekhar picked up the top-order wickets of John Edrich and Keith Fletcher, and then went on to clean up the tail to dismiss England for a partly 101, finishing with 6 for 38 - the second-best figures by an Indian bowler in England at the time.
India, overcoming a nervous start, chased down the required 173 with four wickets to spare, registering their maiden Test as well as series victory on English soil.
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First Published: September 5, 2018, 6:23 PM IST