India England Headingley 1986 Dilip Vengsarkar Kapil Dev
Clockwise, from top left: the Indians celebrate the win; Dilip Vengsarkar carved out one of the greatest overseas innings by an Indian; Roger Binny took 5 for 40 in the first innings; summoned from club cricket, Madan Lal responded with a quick three-wicket burst; a BRING BACK BOTHAM banner outside Headingley Getty Images

Fans back home seldom expected India to win overseas in the 1980s, which left Kapil Dev‘s men in the unique situation of going into a Test in a major nation 1-0 up. India received a major blow when Chetan Sharma, one of the heroes of the Lord’s Test, was ruled out. In a surprise move, India summoned Madan Lal, then playing for Ashton in the Lancashire League and even included him in the XI ahead of Manoj Prabhakar. Some reckon that this was where the relationship between Kapil and Prabhakar started to go downhill.

With Mohinder Amarnath sitting out with an injury, India promoted Ravi Shastri to one-down to bolster the top order. India battled their way to 272 against some quality seam bowling from England. Dilip Vengsarkar top-scored for the third consecutive time, with 61.

Kapil gave Madan the new ball ahead of Roger Binny. Bowling under overcast conditions, Madan (3 for 18) took two quick wickets while Kapil got one. Then Binny ran through the middle-order with 5 for 40, and England sans David Gower were bowled out for 102. It could have been lower, had Bill Athey and Graham Dilley not added 31 for the ninth wicket.

But the drama did not end there. John Lever (he would finish with 4 for 64), this time sans Vaseline, reduced India to 35 for 4. The five partnerships that followed were not massive 35, 32, 35, 36, and 60 but they helped push India further and further away from England.

Holding the innings together was Vengsarkar, who batted serenely on a pitch that was not easy to bat on, essaying one of the greatest overseas innings by an Indian. To quote Wisden, he “demonstrated on the ground that nurtured Sutcliffe, Hutton and Boycott, the art of batting on a bad pitch.”

Vengsarkar remained unbeaten on 102, top-scoring for the fourth time, as BRING BACK BOTHAM banners fluttered, a streaker tried her best to distract the Indian batsmen, and Headingley made feeble attempts at the Mexican Wave. It was exactly what England could manage in their first innings.

England sank without a trace under a murky sky, for 128 (from 90 for 3). Kapil and Binny provided the early breakthroughs before Maninder Singh (4 for 26) ran through the tail. Only Mike Gatting, their new captain, showed some gumption, losing partners as he was left stranded on 31.

“We were outplayed in every department,” conceded Peter May, England Chairman of Selectors. Indeed, England scored 230 runs across innings in the Test, less than India’s scores of 272 and 237. It was only the fifth time in history that this had happened.

The 2-0 margin would remain India’s best margin of victory in a major nation (New Zealand of 1967-68) till won 2-0 in West Indies in 2016.

Brief scores:

India 272 (Dilip Vengsarkar 61; Graham Dilley 3 for 54, Derek Pringle 3 for 47) and 237 (Dilip Vengsarkar 102*; John Lever 4 for 64, Derek Pringle 4 for 73) beat England 102 (Madan Lal 3 for 18, Roger Binny 5 for 40) and 128 (Maninder Singh 4 for 26) by 279 runs.

Player of the Match: Dilip Vengsarkar.