As the fifth India-England Test gets underway at The Oval tomorrow, mid-day highlights some of the visitors' finest batting performances here
1946 Vijay Merchant (128)
Opening the innings with Syed Mushtaq Ali, Vijay Merchant played one of the better knocks of the series, compiling 128 runs in the first innings. He put on 94 with Ali before the latter was run out for 59. Thereafter, the Indian middle-order struggled to get going, and although Merchant held on to his end, the likes of Nawab of Pataudi (Sr) (nine), Lala Amarnath (eight) and Vijay Hazare (11) struggled to get going. Merchant was the seventh man to get out as India managed a healthy 331. England managed 95-3 in reply and the game ended in a tame draw.
1971 Ajit Wadekar (48 & 45) & Dilip Sardesai (54 & 40)
It was collective effort that won India its only Test at The Oval till date, but even in this mix, Wadekar and Sardesai played key roles with vital knocks in both innings. While the skipper scored 48 & 45, Sardesai chipped in with 54 & 40 as India won the game by four wickets. Wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer too played his part, top-scoring with 59 in the first innings and staying unbeaten on 28 to guide India home.
1979 Sunil Gavaskar (221)
Opener Sunil Gavaskar put in a man-of-the-match winning performance in the second innings, amassing 221 runs to take India tantalisingly close to what would have been a sensational win. Set a target of 438, India ended the day at 229-8. Gavaskar, who batted for 443 balls, set the tone for a memorable chase putting on 213 with Chetan Chauhan (80) for the first wicket. He was then involved in a 153-run stand with Dilip Vengsarkar for the second wicket. India lost their way after that and regular wickets thwarted their charge.
1990 Ravi Shastri (187)
Ravi Shastri opened the innings, dropped anchor and amassed a patient 187, facing 436 balls in the process. India scored a mammoth 606-9 declared with Kapil Dev helping himself to 110, but India could not take England’s 20 wickets to level the series. Shastri was the seventh man out and most of the batsmen preceding him got off to good starts before losing their way.
2002 and 2011 Rahul Dravid (217 and 146*)
India managed to draw this series 1-1, and Rahul Dravid played a crucial role in the process. He struck an excellent 217 in India’s total of 508 in reply to England’s 515. Sachin Tendulkar was the next best scorer with 54 in the Indian essay, and once both teams had hit 500+ totals, it was only natural that the game ended in a draw. Nine years later, Dravid scored an unbeaten 146, but by then India were already battered.
2007 Anil Kumble (110*)
Anil Kumble was India’s leading spinner virtually throughout his career. But this was a rare game where he also led the batting charts with a well-made unbeaten 110. He was ecstatic after reaching the three-figure mark and memories of the celebration are still fresh in the minds of those who watched the knock. Interestingly, five batsmen before him in the innings had scores of 50+, but none could go on to hit a 100.
Rahul Dravid's average at the Oval. He scored 443 runs in three Tests