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Will India repeat 1959 or 2007 at Trent Bridge?

Wednesday, July 27, 2021
Venkat C

India's loss at Lord's puts the focus completely on Nottingham for the second Test. Can India bounce back or will England land India, the knock-out punch? The Trent Bridge in Nottingham is a venue where India have had mixed results. They have played four Tests - won one, lost one and drawn a couple. Located in the East Midlands region, Nottingham is famous for being the land of Robin Hood, when he would visit Sherwood Forest and Nottingham Castle. Let's go back in time: when India visited Nottingham in 1959, it was the first Test of the series. Datta Gaekwad (father of Anshuman Gaekwad ) led the Indian team while the England team was led by middle order batsman Peter May. England won the toss and chose to bat. Ramakant Desai, Surendranath, Subhash Gupte and Bapu Nadkarni restricted England to 422. The English captain Peter May led from the front and scored 106. India were bundled out for 206 with only Pankaj Roy scoring above 50 and Fred Trueman was the chief wrecker with 4 for 45. India were forced to follow on and finished well on Day 3 scoring 96 for 3 with Vijay Manjrekar and Datta Gaekwad still at the crease. The next day was rest day and when the match resumed a day later, Brian Statham had other plans. He scalped 5 for 31 and India were decimated from 124 for 4 to 157 all out. England won by an innings and 59 runs. The rest of the series was very forgettable with India losing the series 0-5.

The other popular venues took precedence over Trent Bridge in the next 37 years when India toured England and they never played a Test in Nottingham in that interim. In 1996 India had lost the first Test at Birmingham. In the second Test at Lord's it produced no result and is famously remembered for Sourav Ganguly's debut match and a stylish 131 and Rahul Dravid's gritty 95. When the action moved to Trent Bridge there was keen anticipation. India won the toss and chose to bat. Saurav Ganguly continued where he stopped at Lord's. He scored a classy 136 and Sachin Tendulkar did not want to be left behind. He scored a mammoth 177 and India had posted a huge 521. In response, Michael Atherton's 160 set up another huge total. England scored 564 and the match meandered to a draw despite India scoring only 211 in their second innings. Much happier memories for India than the 1959 series.

When India returned to Trent Bridge six years later in 2002, apart from the fab four India had another potent weapon in the name of Virender Sehwag. India being slow starters in overseas tours and true to script lost the first Test at Lord's. India won the toss at Nottingham and chose to bat. Sehwag's second Test century ensured India scored a respectable 357. In response England scored a mammoth 617 thanks largely to Michael Vaughan's 197 who was in the form of his life. India could have been under pressure in the second innings but Dravid's century and two nineties from Sachin and Sourav saved India the blushes and the Test was drawn. India went on to win the famous Headingley Test and draw the series.

In 2007 Rahul Dravid was India's captain and Zaheer Khan and RP Singh were on top of the game. India saved the first Test at Lord's by a whisker thanks to Dhoni's gritty, unbeaten 76 in the second innings. The stage was set at Trent Bridge for another classic to be played out. There was enough drama in store – the jellybeans prank that riled Zaheer Khan, Sreesanth shoulder-barging Michael Vaughan and plenty of sledging. Zaheer Khan took 4 for 59 as England were left on the back foot, all out for just 198. Advantage India, as Sachin Tendulkar scored 91 and contributions from Sourav Ganguly and Dinesh Karthik ensured that India scored 481. Zaheer continued with another dream spell and took a fifer as India was left with a target of 73 to win the match. India won by 7 wickets which eventually helped them to win the series – a rare overseas win. After the sweet memories of 2007, India will look to repeat the magic that happened four years back. With Zaheer's absence due to injury and Sreeesanth set to fill in, things look a bit bleak. The tour game at Somerset was an indicator for Sreesanth's form. Stranger things have happened and India have bounced back at Perth in 2008, Kolkata in 2010, Colombo in 2010 and Durban in 2010. What do you think will happen in Nottingham? Will it be a repeat of 2007 or repeat of 1959?