Without a shadow of a doubt, winning at the Lord’s cricket ground is a special feeling for any team. From an individual performance point of view, it is about getting those hundreds and five-wicket hauls, through which your name is forever etched on the iconic Lord’s honours board. For Dilip Vengsarkar, that did not seem to be a big deal as he had already scored two centuries at the venue and on this day in 1986, he did it for the third time and thus became the first overseas batsman to score three Test centuries at the iconic venue. More importantly, India registered their first-ever win at Lord’s on their 11th attempt. Before this, they had managed to draw on a couple of occasions – in 1971 and 1979 – but the Kapil Dev-led team went one better in 1986.
Going into the match Vengsarkar’s scores at Lord’s read 0, 103, 2 and 157 from four innings. Vengsarkar was considered to be one of the best batsmen in the world, at that point for his consistent displays with the bat to an extent he overshadowed Sunil Gavaskar too at times. His innings in this match too was as elegant, if not more, than his previous knocks, which involved a match-saving effort along with Gundappa Viswanath in 1979. Having reached new heights in 1983 (World Cup) and also in 1985 (The Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket), India were no longer a team that could be pushed aside despite rare moments of glory in the 60s and 70s.
India put England in after winning the toss. After a steady 66-run partnership for the first wicket between Graham Gooch and Tim Robinson, things quickly unravelled as England collapsed to 98 for 4, thanks to Chetan Sharma, who had picked up three out of the four wickets to fall. Gooch and Derek Pringle then steadied the ship with a timely 147-run stand for the fifth wicket. It was Sharma who once again provided with the breakthrough, bowling Gooch for 114 at the stroke of stumps on day one.
Once Pringle was dismissed for 63, it was the beginning of the end for England as they were shut out for 294. Sharma picked up his second five-wicket haul of his career to finish with 5 for 64 – just months after he was left shattered by the last-ball six by Javed Miandad in the Austral-Asia Cup final.
After having done well to restrict England to under 300, the onus was on the Indian top-order to fire and try to get lead. Like England, India too made a steady start, but their openers – Kris Srikkanth (20) and Gavaskar (34) were back in the hut with 90 on the board. The ever-reliable Vengsarkar walked in with a task on hand. Mohinder Amarnath (69) and Mohammad Azharuddin (33) played well, but after them, the scorecard was not happy reading for India. But, Vengsarkar stood in England’s way and held one end up. Luckily, at the end of the innings, he found good support in the wicketkeeper, who was making his Test debut. Batting at No. 10, Kiran More played some elegant strokes and made a case for him to bat up the order. He scored 25 out of the 39-run 10th wicket stand with Vengsarkar and then for the final wicket, Maninder Singh played out as many as 59 deliveries for his six, but Vengsarkar weathered the storm and his unbeaten 126 gave India a 47-run lead. India added 77 runs for the final two wickets, which would eventually prove vital.
England surrender and India create history
It was Sharma in the first innings, but in the second innings, it was skipper Kapil who led from the front. He had the top three back in the pavilion with just 35 runs on the board, with England still trailing by 12. Allan Lamb (39) and Mike Gatting (40) put on 73 for the fourth wicket to put England back on track. But once they fell, England started losing wickets at regular intervals and were bowled out for just 180, leaving India with 134 to chase and create history.
England struck early, removing the openers quickly. Just when the partnership between Vengsarkar and Amarnath was blossoming, Pringle trapped Amarnath for 8 and it was soon followed by Vengsarkar’s. At 78 for 4 and the top four back into the dressing room, the match seemed to be in the balance. When Azharuddin fell for 14, India were just 24 runs away from victory. Kapil then strode and in a bid to finish things off quickly, blazed his way to a 10-ball 23, which included four fours and one six to help India cruise home to a five-wicket victory and with that, take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
India went on to win the second Test at Headingley by 279 runs and with that won their first series on English soil since the Ajit Wadekar-led side did it in 1971
India have since won just one more match at Lord’s – in 2014 – by 95 runs
Gatting was handed the captaincy right after this game. Gower was informed by selector Peter May as he entered the dressing room after his interview with BBC.