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India in England, Jun/Sep 1979 - Tour Summary

India in England, 1979 - Brief Tour Summary

On their ninth tour of England, the first  official  one  was  in
1932,   the  Indian  cricketers  did  not  do  themslves justice.
First, they lost all three matches in the Prudential (World) Cup,
their biggest humiliation coming when they went down to Sri Lanka
by 47 runs at Old Trafford. Then  came  their  first-class  match
tour   in  which   their  only  victory was at Swansea where they
overwhelmed Glamorgan, who for the first time  in  their  history
failed to  win a match in the County Championship.

As many as twelve of the Indians' sixteen first-class engagements
were  drawn,  including  three of the four Cornhill Test matches.
England recorded their highest total of 633 for five  when   they
beat  India  by  an  innings  and  83  runs  in the First Test at
Edgbaston, but in the three remaining Tests India held their own,
thanks  mainly  to  the  splendid batting of Gavaskar, Viswanath,
Vengsarkar and, to a lesser degree, of Chauhan.

In recent years, India were indebted to the skill of  their  spin
bowlers,  Chandrasekhar,  Prasanna  and Bedi. This time they left
off-spinner  Prasanna  at  home,  and  Chandrasekhar  and    Bedi
accomplished  little  in  the  Tests. A strained Achilles' tendon
troubled Chandrasekhar and he appeared only in the first Test. On
Venkataraghavan  fell the responsibility of captain, but he had a
disappointing tour. His off-spin caused such  few  problems  that
his six Test wickets cost 57.50 runs apiece.

Consequently, a tremendous amount of work fell on the two opening
bowlers;  Kapil  Dev,  a 20-year old all-rounder and the youngest
member of the part, and Ghavri, a left-hander with both  bat  and
ball.  Kapil  Dev  stood out by himself as the main attacker, but
his sixteen Test wickets cost 30.93  runs each,  while   Ghavri's
eight   wickets   came at 56 runs apiece.  Both suffered for lack
of adequate support.

With their attack so ineffective, a vast responsibility rested on
the batsmen, and in two of the Tests the competent and varied set
of bowlers at England's command found themselves truly  mastered.
In  the second match at Lord's, where India batted again 323 runs
behind, a stand of 210 by  Vengsarkar  and Viswanath  saved   the
match.  Their  individual hundreds were only the second and third
made by Indian batsmen against England at Lord's, the other being
Vinoo Mankad's 184 in 1932.

India again held their own in the rain-spoiled Test at Headingly.
Not  only  did they capture the first five England wickets for 89
before Botham blasted his 137 to  take  the total  to  270,   but
Gavaskar  lad  the  response with 78 and then Yashpal Sharma (40)
and Vengsarkar (65 not out) helped the total to  223  for  six  -
quite an honourable performance.

Better still was India's performance in the fourth and final Test
at  The  Oval.  Kapil  Dev,  Ghavri, Bedi and Venkataraghavan all
performed admirable in bowling, but Boycott hit  his   inevitable
hundred   for  England  in  the  second innings and when Brearley
declared, India faced what seemed a hopeless task. They were  set
to  make 438 to win; 32 more than any side had ever made to win a
Test match.

Yet, in the end, India finished inly 9 runs short of victory with
two  wickets  in  hand.  Their  main  hero  was  the 5ft 5in tall
Gavaskar, who defied England for more than eight hours while   he
made  221.  At  one  time  the Indian score stood at 366 for one.
First Chauhan stayed while the opening  stand produced  213,   10
runs  more  than the previous best by Merchant and Mushtaq Ali at
Old Trafford in 1936. Then Vengsarkar saw the total to  366,  but
to   most  people's surprise  Viswanath did not come in until the
fifth wicket fell at 410. His delayed entry possibly  cost  India
the   victory which almost everyone - except the England team and
officials - hoped they would achieve  after  such  a  magnificent
performance.  Gavaskar's  brilliant career is fully dealt with in
the Five Cricketers of the Year (1980).

Viswanath, a brother-in-law of Gavaskar, gave many fine displays,
and  Vengsarkar,  at  the  age  of 23, looked set for a brilliant
career. Tall and possessing  a  good  style  with a  variety   of
strokes,  he  proved  a big success on his first tour of England,
where conditions and weather are so differernt from  his   native

India brought two wicket-keepers without Test  experience,  Reddy
and  Khanna.  Neither  was  impressive and the selectors may have
regretted leaving behind Kirmani, to whom they returned when they
arrived back home to face Australia. - N.P.

Thanks to Wisden, 1980 (117th Edition) for this and other reports
in this directory.

 Contributed by cp (help@cricinfo.com)

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