Trent Bridge win laid foundation for India's No 1 status
Bikash Mohapatra looks back on India's victory at Trent Bridge, in 2007, which started a glorious run of results for the now world No 1 side.
It happened exactly four years ago on this day.
July 27, 2007: Team India laid the foundation of what would turn out to be a significant win in their Test history.
The team, led by Rahul Dravid, had their backs to the wall. Having made an opening round exit in the World Cup earlier that year, the players and management were having a tough time explaining their sordid performance.
A win over minnows Bangladesh did little to assuage the hard-to-please critics. The tour of England was the acid test, with many writing them off beforehand.
The fact that they struggled for most of the first Test at Lord's --- eventually relying on inclement weather (read incessant rain and bad light) and some dogged determination displayed by MS Dhoni to salvage a draw -- did little to improve the situation.
The venue for the second Test, Nottingham, was one where they had hitherto never won -- in three Tests they played. It did not come across as a surprise, therefore, that not many gave them a chance (of surviving) going into the Test.
Image: Rahul Dravid (left) walks off with Sourav Ganguly after defeating England in the second Test at Trent Bridge in 2007
Photographs: Getty Images
Vaughan's ton in 2nd innings salvaged some English pride
Dravid's decision of putting England in, having won the toss, was also questioned by a certain section. However, it was India who drew first blood.
A spectacular bowling performance by Zaheer Khan (four for 59) saw the hosts skittled out for a paltry 198 in their first essay. The Indian batting line-up then ensured the effort of their bowler(s) was duly backed-up.
Dinesh Karthik (77), Wasim Jaffer (62), Sachin Tendulkar (91), Sourav Ganguly (79) and VVS Laxman (54) all scored half centuries to help the visitors pile a formidable total (481).
With a sizeable first innings lead (283), India had some breathing space.
A magnificent 124 by captain Michael Vaughan, and significant efforts by both Andrew Strauss (55) and Paul Collingwood (63), meant England were well-placed at 287 for three at one stage in their second innings.
Image: Michael Vaughan celebrates his century against India
'Five-star' Zaheer set up India win
Then Zaheer dismissed Vaughan and Ian Bell (0) in the space of three balls, thereby affecting a massive turnaround. The home team lost their last five wickets for just 51 runs, Zaheer finishing with impressive figures of five for 75 (match figures of nine for 129).
The left-arm quick had accounted for Strauss, Vaughan and Bell in each innings. No points for guessing who won the man-of-the-match honours.
Chasing a modest target (73), India was given a scare by Chris Tremlett (three for 12) before eventually posting a seven-wicket win. The significance of the result increased in subsequent weeks when, following a draw in the third Test at The Oval, India secured its first series win in England in 21 years (since 1986).
The win was significant in another context, in that it started a glorious run of results for India.
Image: Zaheer Khan ecstatic after bagging Ian Bell's wicket
Zaheer's absence puts India on backfoot
In the 42 Tests that India played since that (and this) Tour of England, the former won 19 (as against just 18 losses), scored significant away wins in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and assumed the top spot in the ICC Test rankings (in December 2009) and held it since.
They lost only two Test series in the intervening period.
But, as India return to play another Test at Trent Bridge, they have two factors (of 2007) going against them. One, they could not save the opening Test at Lord's; second, the man who ensured them that memorable win four summers ago (Zaheer) is likely to watch from the sidelines this time.
Image: Zaheer walks off after pulling his hamstring during the Lord's Test