Bombay bonanza brings back memories of Madras in '85
Thursday 23 March 2006
It may have seemed something of an exaggeration when Duncan Fletcher said that squaring the Test series in India was "close to that Ashes win" in terms of achievement but history backs up the England coach's claim.
Test victories, let alone series wins, do not come along very often in India and it had been 21 years since England last managed to win a five-day game there. That came in the fourth Test of the 1984-85 tour, under David Gower's captaincy.
The series was level at 1-1 when the sides came to Madras on 13 January for a match which will be remembered for two monumental and record-breaking innings by England batsmen.
India, led by Sunil Gavaskar, won the toss and batted but they were restricted to 272 largely by six wickets from the Essex seamer, Neil Foster. England's reply effectively sealed the match, and the series. After putting on 178 for the first wicket with Nottinghamshire's Tim Robinson, England's opener Graeme Fowler shared a mammoth 241-run stand for the second wicket with Mike Gatting. The pair both reached double hundreds, the first time two batsmen had done so in a Test for England, and only the sixth time the feat had been done in Tests.
Gower was able to declare on 652 for seven and five more wickets for Foster were the feature of India's second-innings of 412. That left England to score only 35 to win by nine wickets. A drawn fifth Test in Kanpur left Gower as only the third England captain to win a series in India, and no one since has matched him.
Ball of the day
Andrew Flintoff's bowling is beginning to resemble that of Courtney Walsh, the great West Indian fast bowler. Flintoff angles the ball in, but gets it to hold its line and that is why Rahul Dravid played at a ball he could have left alone. Several of these deliveries beat the outside edge but the ball to Dravid did not.
Shot of the day
There were very few of note on a day dominated by England's bowlers. Sachin Tendulkar clipped James Anderson beautifully for four, but the straight drive of Yuvraj Singh, against the same bowler, was top-class.
Moment of the day
England have shown huge character on this tour, and it was brilliant to see a squad containing so many young faces competing with tough opponents like India on their own patch. England have not won a Test series on the subcontinent this winter, but it felt like it yesterday.
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