England have not had it easy in India in recent years - can Alastair Cook's men reverse the trend this time around?
By Rob Lancaster. Last Updated: 14/11/12 6:45am
This winter Alastair Cook will be looking to become the first England captain to win a series in India since David Gower achieved the feat in 1985. In the past 27 years the hosts have pretty much had it all their own way, with England's batsmen consistently failing their trial against spin.
Here we take a look back at the tour since Gower's side superbly fought back from an opening Test defeat in Bombay to record a 2-1 triumph...
After the tour of 1988-89 never happened due to visa issues, England's trip in '93 turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. The first mistake of many by the tourists was to pick four seamers for the opening Test on a dry track in Calcutta. The quartet of Devon Malcolm, Paul Jarvis, Chris Lewis and Paul Taylor manfully tried, but home captain Mohammad Azhurddin put them to the sword with a century. While Phil Tufnell (who went wicketless through 41 overs of work) was drafted in for the second Test, it made little difference. India won by an innings thanks to Anil Kumble's six-for, though Lewis did put up a fight with a knock of 117 that at least took the match into a fifth and final morning. With the series already gone England looked as if they might be able to restore some pride when they made 347 in the third and final Test, Hick hitting 178 of them, only for the home team to reply with a humongous 591. Vinod Kambli's double ton made sure they didn't need to bat again. It spoke volumes that by the end of the series the gentle off-spin sent down by batsman Hick (with a grand total of eight victims) was England's leading wicket-taker.
Nearly a decade on from their last trip, this was the tour that nearly never happened. The September 11 terrorist attacks led to doubts about the safety of travelling, with the England and Wales Cricket Board deciding it would be up to the individual to decide what to do. In the end, Andy Caddick and Robert Croft pulled out, joining Alec Stewart and Darren Gough (who had both already asked to be rested) in staying at home. Despite a depleted squad, with Nasser Hussain at the helm England were always going to be competitive. They did lose the first Test, collapsing from 172-2 to 238 all out on the opening day, with Deep Dasgupta (remember him? No, I thought not) hitting a hundred as India replied with 469. The second match seemed set to follow a similar pattern, England again slipping badly from 172-2, until Craig White came out at No.7 to hit 121 from 265 balls. Their total of 407 put them on the front foot, despite a seven-wicket haul for Kumble. India could only respond with 291 but managed to safely see out the match as a draw, batting out 97 overs for the loss of just three wickets on a fifth-day pitch. That proved to be England's big chance to level the series, with the third Test being ruined by rain. Again England held a first-innings lead, new-ball duo Matthew Hoggard and Andrew Flintoff claiming four wickets apiece, but the elements denied them the chance to ram home their advantage. In the end, an honourable defeat.
Another tour that was dogged by issues before the plane had left English soil. Injuries sidelined regular skipper Michael Vaughan, Simon Jones and Ashley Giles as the Test team that secured the Ashes from Australia's grasp on home soil the previous summer began to fall apart. To make matters even worse, Marcus Trescothick, the man named to lead the side in Vaughan's continued absence, pulled out of the tour for personal reasons. Instead it was left to Andrew Flintoff to take charge and a certain Alastair Cook was summoned from a Lions tour in the Caribbean to open the batting. The left-hander made 60 in his first dig and then registered a ton on Test debut second time around, helping the tourists have the better of a draw. Captain Flintoff led from the front in Mohali, making 70 with the bat and then taking 4-96, but England collapsed in their second innings to 181 all out to set their opponents just 144, a target Virender Sehwag rushed them towards. When Cook was ruled out of the final Test due to sickness, England must've feared the worst. Yet Owais Shah came into the team and, along with Middlesex team-mate Andrew Strauss (128), helped the visitors amass 400 after strangely being put into bat by Rahul Dravid. Although they threatened to waste a three-figure first-innings lead by being bowled out for 181, Shaun Udal enjoyed his moment in the international spotlight with 4-14 to see India skittled for 100. The series ended all square and Flintoff was hailed for his leadership skills in tough circumstances.
Once again a tour of India was threatened by nothing to do with cricket. The terror attacks in Mumbai saw England fly home midway through the one-day series, resulting in the last two matches being cancelled and India being declared 5-0 winners. It seemed a return was unlikely, but after a training camp in Dubai and the switching of the venues for the Tests from Ahmedabad and Mumbai to Chennai and Mohali, Kevin Pietersen's squad made the brave decision to go back and play. Despite a lack of preparation time they seemed in control of the series opener thanks to centuries in each innings from Andrew Strauss, with some experts suggesting KP had been too timid in declaring at 311-9. It turned out, however, that 387 was far too easy for India to chase down, Sehwag setting them on their way in destructive fashion before Tendulkar thrilled the crowd with an unbeaten hundred. The five-wicket defeat, and particularly the manner of it, was a serious body blow to England. Any hope they had of levelling matters in the second Test were dashed by a combination of morning fog, afternoon bad light and tons from Gautam Gambhir and Dravid. Pietersen did pummel a hundred of his own in response having found himself in extremely early, including some aggressive blows against the 'pie chucker' that is Yuvraj Singh. Still, time was always against KP and co, and India had no desire to make a game of it by dangling a carrot with a generous declaration.