A batsman’s ability can only be judged when he scores runs on a difficult track and Dilip Vengsarkar proved this during India’s tour of England in 1986. The right-handed batsman had already got a ton on the tour in the first match but it was the second innings of the next Test in Headingley that showed his ability.
The match had mostly been dominated by the bowlers; India and England had just managed 272 and 102 in their respective first innings with Vengsarkar scoring the highest (61). But the English bowlers were put on the backfoot when Vengsarkar came out to bat at number four in the second innings.
England started the proceedings in the second innings on a positive note. John Lever and Graham Dilley removed openers Sunil Gavaskar and Kris Srikanth to reduce India to 9/2. They later got rid of Ravi Shastri and Mohammad Azharuddin quickly and left India tottering at 35/4. But Vengsarkar stood steady at the other end and showed why he was one of the finest players that Indian cricket had ever produced.
Wickets kept falling at regular intervals but Vengsarkar kept going and kept the scoreboard moving. He went on to score 102 off 216 deliveries in an innings that included 10 boundaries. He remained unbeaten and almost single-handedly provided India a huge lead in the second innings.
England were set a target of 407 runs but they were bundled out for 128. A defeat by 279 runs; India now led the three-match series 2-0. Vengsarkar’s unbeaten ton, which was also his second century on the bounce, played a major role in giving India just their second series win in England.
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