1970’s proved that India had mastered the art of how to win matches on foreign soil. But the next decade did not pan out as India would have hoped as they played 52 matches and won just four. There was a desperate need to change the fortunes of the team in the longer format and the summer of 1986 proved to be just that.
India was touring England for the 12th time but had failed to register a series win. But under the leadership of Kapil Dev, the time had come to rewrite history. But the protagonist of this story is not the fiery Indian skipper or the famed batsmen but a young 20-year-old first change medium pacer- Chetan Sharma.
Chetan Sharma – 5/64 at Lord’s, 1986
The first Test of the tour was held at Lord’s where India won the toss and elected to field first. Opening bowlers Kapil Dev and Roger Binny did not make much of a mark but on a good Lord’s wicket, Sharma made an immediate impact as he dismissed three top-order batsmen- David Gower, Mike Gatting, Alan Lamb to reduce England to 98/4.
But England opener Graham Gooch was in impeccable touch and scored a fine century on first day’s play. Courtesy of his knock England posted a respectable score of 294. But Sharma had his number when Gooch was bowled for 114. From 244/5 England succumbed to 294 all out. Chetan Sharma, who bowled his heart out and took five English wickets for 64 runs, was the man of the moment. Sharma’s terrific spell had given India the momentum in the first match of the series.
In reply, led by Dilip Vengsarkar’s unbeaten 126, India scored 341, taking a slender lead of 47. In the second innings, England was bowled out for 180 as India chased down a target of 136 with ease. History was made but there was more to come. India went on to beat England in the next Test and subsequently won their first Test series in England.