Vengsarkar lords over Lord’s (June 1982)
There are some knocks in Test cricket that cannot be judged on the basis of victory and defeat. Dilip Vengsarkar’s 157 in the second innings of the Lord’s Test following-on was one such one. India, having been bowled out cheaply after England posted an impressive total in the first innings, were under extreme pressure following-on. And although India went on to lose the Test rather easily, by seven wickets, Vengsarkar’s knock in the second essay remains among the best ever played at the mecca of cricket. Here’s a rewind of that great Test knock played three decades ago.
England won the toss and chose to bat first in a match that saw as many as three debutants –Allan Lamb and Derek Pringle for England and Ghulam Parkar for India. England posted an impressive 433 in their first innings, following which they cleaned up India for a mere 128 all out –Vengsarkar’s contribution being only 2. Being forced to follow-on, India found themselves in big trouble right from the start. The first four wickets were back in the pavilion with on 110 runs on the board – Sunil Gavaskar contributing 24 and Ravi Shastri 23. For India to salvage some pride, a Vengsarkar special was needed and that is exactly what ‘the colonel’ came up with.
India’s reliable number three occupied the crease for 334 minutes and faced 264 balls en route to an enterprising 157. Playing in typical Vengsarkar style, he carved out 21 boundaries and batted without a trouble in the world, at least it seemed so, in spite of the desperate situation India found themselves in. India were not out of danger when Vengsarkar was dismissed for 157, caught by Paul Allott off Bob Willis’ bowling. In fact, they were still well short of making England bat again, leave alone save the game. However, Vengsarkar walked away with his head held high even as the Indians moved closer to defeat.
Other impressive performances during the Test
England’s first-innings score of 433 was built around a magnificent 126 by Derek Randell. There were half-centuries from Ian Botham and Phil Edmonds too. Botham went on to pick five wickets in India’s first innings while Willis grabbed six in India’s second essay. Then, during the small chase of 67, debutant Allan Lamb made an unbeaten 37 to steer England home. For the visitors, Kapil Dev was magnificent, claiming five wickets in England’s first innings and three in the second. He also played crucial knocks of 41 and 89, and was even adjudged Man of the match.
Vengsarkar vs England
Vengsarkar’s performance against England was on par with his overall record. In 26 Tests, he gathered 1589 runs with five hundreds at an average on 42.94, and the highest of 157, the innings being paid tribute to in this feature. Four of his five tons came in England, where he scored 960 runs at an excellent average of 48. It wouldn’t be wrong then to say that England was like his second home.
--By A Cricket Analyst