India toured England in the summer of 1986.
Despite winning the 1983 World Cup in England and the World Championship of Cricket in Australia in 1985, their recent record in Test cricket had left much to be desired. They hadn’t won a Test series since beating England at home in the winter of 1981.
England had had mixed fortunes and won seven of their previous 14 Test series. They were the holders of the Ashes but were handed a 0-5 drubbing in the Caribbean in their last series.
Dilip Vengsarkar had not done justice to his talent. Although, he showed glimpses of it in India’s series victory over Pakistan in 1979 and then played a supporting role in helping India draw level Down Under in 1981, he was still India’s fifth-highest impact batsman (min. 20 Tests) with a failure rate of 54% from 82 Tests since his debut in 1976.
His recent form had been nightmarish and he had failed (
But things soon changed.
Vengsarkar’s 126 and 33 were instrumental in India’s five-wicket win in the series-opener at Lord’s.
A buoyed India rode the shift in momentum into the second Test at Leeds.
India, electing to bat first on an unpredictable pitch, were 75 for 2, when Vengsarkar joined Shastri at the crease. He top-scored with 61 in India’s first innings total of 272. Binny and Madan Lal cleaned England up for 102.
But India were in early trouble in the second innings as Vengsarkar again joined Shastri at 9 for 2. He held fort at one end while wickets continued to tumble at the other (29 for 3, 35 for 4). India ended Day 2 at 70 for 5 with Vengsarkar unbeaten on 33.
On Day 3, Vengsarkar and More added 32 for the fifth-wicket before Kapil Dev scored a quickfire 31.
Vengsarkar then added 36 with Madan Lal and 60 with Binny for the eighth and ninth wicket respectively. He remained unbeaten on a magnificent 102. India were bowled out for 237. England, set 408, were skittled for 128.
India won the Test by 279 runs and, with it, took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series.
Vengsarkar recorded a
It is the highest impact batting performance of his career.
India managed to hold on to a draw in the third Test in Birmingham.
It was a historic series-win for India- only their second ever in England.
Vengsarkar got a
Interestingly, the next two years saw a mercurial rise in Vengsarkar’s career -by far his best period in Test cricket.
He was the highest impact batsman in the world in this time frame (June 1986 to June 1988).
Not surprising then, that he scored 1631 runs from 16 Test matches in this period at a phenomenal average of 102 with eight hundreds.
Vengsarkar played 34 Tests from the 1986 England series till he retired in 1992.
It is quite remarkable that he was the highest impact Indian batsman and their most consistent one in this period.
Art- Gokul Chakravarthy
NOTE: Impact Index has undergone an upgradation in November 2015, and though 95% of its findings remain the same, there have been some minor shifts. This piece was updated post that, and is up-to-date as of August 2016.