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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)