England have an excellent record in Tests against India at the ‘Home of Cricket’. In 17 Tests at the ground, India have won just two matches and have suffered defeats 11 times. Looking at the overall, India don’t seem to stand stand much of a chance despite winning the last time in 2014.
However if you look at the England’s record at the ground in the last few years, a trend emerges – that of a clear struggle against subcontinent teams.
In last 10 Tests at the ground, England have won four Tests, lost as many and drawn two. The wins have come against Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies.
But more interestingly, two of the defeats have come against Pakistan and one against India. Also, both draws have come against Sri Lanka.
The trend started with India defeating the hosts in 2014 thanks to a six-wicket haul from seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and a seven-wicket burst from quick Ishant Sharma.
Then in 2016, Pakistan triumphed by 75 runs thanks to a 10-wicket match haul by leg-spinner Yasir Shah.
The men in green were at it again this year, as an inexperienced team led by Sarfraz Ahmed stunned Joe Root’s England by nine wickets with seamer Mohammad Abbas picking up eight wickets in the match.
Sri Lanka done admirably as well. They drew their matches in 2014 and 2016.
Seamers and spinners from the subcontinent have enjoyed conditions at Lord’s. And given that the pitch for the match starting Thursday should aid spinners due to the heatwave in London, expect India to be extremely competitive.
Since their first appearance way back in 1932, the Indians have only won two of their 17 matches there with their most recent coming on the last tour in 2014.
We look back at all the matches India have played at Lord’s:
JUNE 1932: LOST BY 158 RUNS
The only Test of the series but it was a ruthless welcome from the hosts. Mohammad Nissar made a dream start with a five-wicket haul that saw England bowled out for 259. Captain CK Nayudu led from the front to top-score with 40 but India were still behind after scoring 189.
England piled on more pressure with the bat and a target of 346 proved to be too much for the tourists despite Amar Singh scoring a half-century.
JUNE 1936: LOST BY NINE WICKETS
Bowled out for 147, India fought back as Amar Singh’s six-for saw them take a 13-run lead. But India batsmen crumbled with Gubby Allen completing his second five-wicket haul of the match to bowl India out for 93. England reached their 107-run target with ease inside 40 overs.
JUNE 1946: LOST BY 10 WICKETS
A decade later but the same result. Rusi Modi’s unbeaten 57 saw India reach 200 in their first innings. That proved to be too few as England posted a first innings total of 428 thanks to an unbeaten 205 from Joe Hardstaff and Paul Gibb’s 60.
Vinoo Mankad hit 63 as India got a a 48-run lead but England cruised home without losing a single wicket.
JUNE 1952: LOST BY EIGHT WICKETS
After England amassed 537 in their reply to India’s 235, the tourists at least managed make the hosts bat again. That was purely down to Mankad who smashed 184 as India posted 378 with Jim Laker and Fred Trueman taking four wickets each. England only needed 77 to win and that proved to be a walk in the park.
JUNE 1959: LOST BY EIGHT WICKETS
Tommy Greenhough and Ramakant Desai claimed five each in the first innings for their respective teams as the hosts took a 58-run first innings lead. India’s batsmen failed with Vijay Manjrekar top-scoring with 61 in their second innings score of 165. England lost two early wickets but Colin Cowdrey’s unbeaten half-century saw them home.
JUNE 1967: LOST BY AN INNINGS AND 124 RUNS
The first innings defeat for India. Ajit Wadekar (57) was one of four players to reach double figures as India posted a first innings total of 152. Tom Graveney’ 151 meant the hosts took command with a total of 386. India fared poorly in a comprehensive defeat.
JULY 1971: DRAW
The losing streak finally ended for India. After England and India posted 304 and 313 in their first innings respectively, John Edrich’s half-century gave the visitors a target of 183. Sunil Gavaskar hit a fine fifty but India could only reach 145-8.
JUNE 1974: LOST BY AN INNINGS AND 285 RUNS
Three years later, it was back to business for England as they piled more misery on the Indians. They amassed 629 in the first innings which featured three centurions. India scored 302 in their reply and were asked to follow on. Then, Chris Old and Geoff Arnold shared nine wickets as India were shot out for a paltry 42 for one of the heaviest defeats in history.
AUGUST 1979: DRAW
For the second time in history, India escaped defeat at the ground. That was down to their brave second innings. It seemed India were set for another defeat when they were bowled out for 96 with Ian Botham claiming five scalps. England declared on 419-9 with David Gower making 82 but India did much better in their second innings, closing the day on 318-4.
JUNE 1982: LOST BY SEVEN WICKETS
India were already up against it when England posted 433 in the first innings. Sunil Gavaskar’s 48 was the only highlight for India as they were all out for 128. That enforced the follow-on and while the Indians fared much better with a score of 369, Allan Lamb’s unbeaten 37 sealed victory.
JUNE 1986: WON BY FIVE WICKETS
Few expected an India victory. Chetan Sharma’s five-wicket haul saw England out for 294 as Dilip Vengsarkar scored a century to take a first innings lead. When India returned with the ball, it was Kapil Dev who dazzled taking four wickets as India received a 134-run target.
JULY 1990: LOST BY 247 RUNS
Graham Gooch scored a mammoth 333 as England posted 653-4. Mohammad Azharuddin and Ravi Shastri helped themselves to a century as India made 454. Gooch then returned for another century before India were all out for 224.
JUNE 1996: DRAW
Venkatesh Prasad claimed five wickets as England were all out for 344. Sourav Ganguly’s 131 helped India take a lead as they made 429. That was the only time they batted as England declared made 278-9 in their second outing.
JULY 2002: LOST BY 170 RUNS
Nasser Hussain’s 155 and Freddie Flintoff’s 59 saw the hosts put on 487. Virender Sehwag hit 84 in India’s 221 while Michael Vaughan was one of two centurions as England declared on 301-6. With a target of 568, Ajit Agarkar provided some resistance with a memorable century but that was not enough to prevent defeat.
JULY 2007: DRAW
Andrew Strauss missed his ton by four runs as England posted 298. Wasim Jaffer’s 58 saw India score 201 on their first attempt. While England hit 282 in the second, an unbeaten half-century from wicket-keeper MS Dhoni salvaged a draw as India finished on 282-9.
JULY 2011: LOST BY 196 RUNS
Kevin Pietersen stole the show as England racked up 474-8 declared. But Rahul Dravid showed why he is called ‘The Wall’ with an unbeaten 103 as India hit 286. England set a target of 458 for India which proved to be well beyond them.
JULY 2014: WON BY 95 RUNS
Finally something to celebrate for India. Ajinkya Rahane’s 103 gave India a decent start with a total of 295. Gary Ballance did the same for England as they took a first-innings lead but India’s 342 in the second innings sealed only their second triumph at Lord’s.
The 20-year-old, a veteran of just 15 first-class matches, is set to have the opportunity of a lifetime this week at Lord’s so early in his fledgling career.
You have to applaud national selector Ed Smith and his close confidants such as James Taylor for identifying someone like the Surrey batsman – clearly showing they are taking in county cricket on the regular (despite applying a dagger to the heart of the domestic game, the opinion of many, by the left-field and controversial selection of Adil Rashid).
Regardless, Pope’s inclusion went to show how light England’s talent pool is at the moment. That is no disrespect whatsoever to the up-and-coming batsman – it is great to see young Englishmen getting their chance. But can you expect them to perform from the get-go? Not really.
With Pope coming in to replace the out-of-form Dawid Malan and possibly slot in at No6 with the rest of the middle-order being rejigged, there is more emphasis on England’s senior batsmen to deliver – especially given Ben Stokes’ expected absence at the Home of Cricket.
The most senior of them all is Alastair Cook.
The 33-year-old opening batsman, who let’s not forget is sixth in the all-time Test run-scoring charts with 12,158 to his name and only 243 shy of overtaking Sri Lanka legend Kumar Sangakkara, was undone by Ravi Ashwin’s off-spin not once but twice, and bowled on both occasions, during the Edgbaston match.
He was on the receiving end of an absolute ripper in the first innings, the offie’s equivalent of the ‘Ball of the Century’, but by his own admission struggled to get to the pitch of the ball and exert a strong enough forward stride when his stumps were knocked off second time around.
Cook’s place in this England XI is assured. Firstly, there is no sense in spiriting away one of England’s best-ever players and two, there are a genuine lack of alternatives out there.
But, like he has been throughout his entire career since making his Test debut at Nagpur in March 2006, and now a record 155 consecutive Tests later, Cook is always in the spotlight, at the crease at least.
His form and dismissals have always garnered more column inches and comment in an England shirt than anyone else, probably bar Kevin Pietersen and latterly Joe Root. His captaincy, too, took a pummelling reminiscent of the Mike Atherton days of the 1990s.
Scoring runs is usually the best remedy and answer and he needs a few in this series.
Michael Vaughan alluded to as much, and even added during his Monday night phone-in show on BBC Five Live that Cook was not ‘undroppable’ under a new regime willing to make a brave call.
He has a point and Cook could do with improving on his haul of 13 runs in two innings in Birmingham, though he did score two fifties in three knocks against Pakistan during the two-Test series in the early part of the English summer.
That was a big improvement given last winter he averaged just 5.75 against New Zealand and was dismissed for under 20 in 10 of his 13 innings overall.
His 244* knock against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the fourth Ashes Test aside, Cook was all at sea for the first three matches. That said, who didn’t struggle against a lightning fast Baggy Green pace attack?
Cook’s apparent deficiencies outside off-stump have been highlighted for years but isn’t that how most openers get out? It’s harsh to say he has a real weakness against good line and length pace, but obviously left-armer over has caused him plenty of trouble. The Australia attack, and Pakistan duo Mohammed Amir and Hasan Ali, being proof of that recently.
But for all the chatter, Cook remains unflustered. If anything, ahead of his 26th Test at Lord’s – a venue where he has played at more than any other and scored more hundreds (four) and fifties (12) than any of the 47 other grounds he’s set foot on in the world – is feeling more relaxed now than he did before.
He has and has always loved batting, that is all he knows, aside from his farm life. As the senior statesman of this side Cook should relish the chance to help his side go 2-0 and set the example for the young guns to follow this week.