The year 1985 will be remembered for India’s spirited triumph in the World Championship of Cricket win in Australia which proved to the world that the 1983 World Cup win was no fluke.
However, prior to that win Down Under, Sunil Gavaskar’s Indians endured a terrible time against David Gower’s men, the last team to win a Test series in India.
The hosts won the first Test at the Wankhede Stadium thanks to Laxman Sivaramakrishnan’s 12 wickets in the Test, but when it came to the Delhi Test, England provided a strong reply to India’s first innings score of 307.
It must be noted that, like the present scenario, India possessed a strong batting line-up — Gavaskar, Gaekwad, Vengsarkar, Mohinder, Patil et al. All in the top eight had more than one mere century to his name. Yet, with the exception of Shastri and Vengsarkar in that Delhi playing XI none of them could score a century in the remainder of the series.
Just like Kevin Pietersen’s brilliant 186 gave England the impetus, then opener Tim Robinson came up with a knock of 160 which was a touch surprising considering his second Test in India was the second of his career.
“Whenever I would play a loose shot I would rebuke myself and tell myself, ‘Geoff Boycott wouldn’t get out to such balls. He would bat on’,” Robinson told Cricinfo in a series build-up interview recently.
England had a similar spin attack too — off-spinner Pat Pocock and left-arm spinner Phil Edmonds. Pocock returned to India after 1972-73 and Edmonds bowled with heart from skipper David Gower, a left-handed batsman like Alastair Cook.
Though Jonathon Trott did not open his account thanks to the guile of Pragyan Ojha, he could well develop as the series progresses. The 1984-85 England team had other batting stars in Mike Gatting and Graeme Fowler. After his century jinx-breaking effort in Mumbai, Gatting scored a double century in Chennai while opener Fowler plundered 201 in same Test where England ensured they couldn’t lose the series.
A draw in the fifth and final Test at Kanpur ensured England clinched the Anthony de Mello Trophy. They did that with some help from the pace attack too. Norman Cowans bowled his heart out while Neil Foster claimed 11 wickets in Chennai.
Like now, a batting icon’s form was hard to ignore. In five Tests, Gavaskar scored 50-plus only once and ended the series with an average of 17.50.
Pujara has emerged a true batting star with two three-figure knocks in two Tests. A third in this series will have pundits comparing his feat to Mohammed Azharuddin’s three tons in a row in the 1984-85 series. Similarities of 1984-85 and 2012-13 don’t seem to end.
Hopefully for Indian fans, there won’t be a similar scoreline at the end of the fourth Test in Nagpur and there will be no reports over discord like there were in 1984-85.