@Aadya_Wisden 4 minute read
Aadya Sharma recalls (and ranks) the best men’s Test centuries by India batsmen in England.
As India gear up for their 19th Test tour of England, we look back at some of the finest knocks by visiting Indian batsmen in the country, right from when the rivalry began in the early 1930s. Across the decades, India’s touring parties have found it tough, securing only three Test series wins in the country.
Time and again, though, India’s batsmen have put up memorable individual performances: while some were acts of resistance that couldn’t stop the loss, others forced a draw, and a few even set the tone for historic wins.
#10 Ajit Agarkar
109, 1st Test, Lord’s (2002)
Stuck with the misnomer ‘Bombay Duck’ after an embarrassing run of zeroes against Australia, Ajit Agarkar put forth tremendous verve to post his name on the Lord’s honours board for his batting deeds. His 109 from No.8 couldn’t prevent a defeat, but set the tone for India’s subsequent fightback in the series. The gutsy knock, filled with lovely drives to the fence (16 boundaries overall), is still remembered as one of the best surprise counter-attacks by an Indian player.
#9 Virat Kohli
149, 1st Test, Birmingham (2018)
This was, more than anything else, a personal statement of redemption, four years after Kohli’s horrendous showing on the 2014 tour. Armed with a tighter technique, Kohli was unperturbed by the lively Edgbaston crowd and offered up a knock of controlled resistance. He dictated the innings when none of his fellow batsmen crossed 26, and on a forgettable tour for India, stood out as one of the bright spots.
#8 MAK Pataudi
148, 1st Test, Headingley (1967)
The skipper was India’s solo batting saviour (and India’s top run-getter) on that tour, putting up a fight in both innings of the 1967 Headingley Test. After a valiant 67 in the first innings, he fought back with a brilliant 148 from No.6 while following on, his 348-ball resistance delaying victory for the hosts.
#7 Vinoo Mankad
184, 2nd Test, Lord’s (1952)
The 1952 tour began with a horror showing with the bat for India, who were infamously reduced to 0-4 in the first Test. In the following Test, Vinoo Mankad admirably stood up to the English challenge, first scoring 72, and then following it with a knock of 184 (then highest score by an India player in Tests) in the second. The four-and-a-half-hour effort ensured that India didn’t succumb to an innings defeat.
#6 Rahul Dravid
217, 4th Test, The Oval (2002)
One of only two double-centuries by an India player in England in men’s Tests, Dravid’s 217 was a classy effort, headlining India’s response to the hosts’ mammoth 515. India’s No.3 was on song against England’s four-pronged seam attack (and Ashley Giles), keeping them at bay for over ten hours. Only a run out could end his stay.
#5 Rahul Dravid
146*, 4th Test, The Oval (2011)
The 2011 tour belonged to Dravid, whose personal success was overshadowed by a humiliating outing for the visitors. Opening the batting, he carried his bat with a beautifully crafted 146, showing tremendous endurance at the age of 38 to keep his pads on as India followed-on. The visitors came nowhere close to staving off defeat, but the legend of Dravid only grew bigger.
#4 Dilip Vengsarkar
157, 1st Test, Lord’s (1982)
Vengsarkar conquered Lord’s on three separate tours, but it is his defiant 157 that truly stands out as one of India’s finest pieces of resistance in Test cricket. When he walked out to bat in the second innings, India, following on, were trailing by 299 runs. Over his next five-and-a-half hours at the crease, Vengsarkar kept England at bay, and in the company of belligerent Kapil Dev at No.8 (89 off 55), helped India avoid an innings defeat.
#3 Ajinkya Rahane
103, 2nd Test, Lord’s (2014)
Rahane played a key hand in one of only two Test wins by India in England over the last decade, scoring a fluent century – his second Test ton – to put India in position for a memorable victory. Batting first, none of India’s batsmen could provide much assistance to Rahane (the next best score was 36), who fought off the Anderson-Broad pairing with his wristy, authoritative strokes. The century laid the platform for India’s first win at Lord’s in 28 years.
#2 Sachin Tendulkar
119, 2nd Test, Manchester (1990)
Tendulkar’s first international century was a superlative rescue effort from the 17-year-old prodigy, helping force a draw. The first Test belonged to Graham Gooch and his 333-run marathon and India were trying to keep the series alive when Tendulkar, at No.6, compiled a masterful 119, helping his side draw the second Test. It signalled the birth of a phenomenon.
#1 Sunil Gavaskar
221, 4th Test, The Oval (1979)
One of the all-time greatest overseas knocks by an Indian, Gavaskar’s 221 was a Stokesian effort of the 1970s, almost ending in a miraculous win for India. Chasing 438, India ended on 429-8 thanks to Gavaskar’s eight-hour effort, batting valiantly when none of the batsmen outside the top three crossed 20. India came close, but had to settle for a draw.
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