A history of India's poor starts to cricket Test series in England

Graham Caygill looks back at India tours of England since 1990 to determine one reason for their struggles there: starting a series on the wrong foot

India captain Virat Kohli takes part in the nets session at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, England, Wednesday, July 11, 2018. India will play their first One Day International cricket match against England on Thursday. (David Davies/PA via AP)
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Virat Kohli and India can certainly not be accused of not wanting to hit the ground running for the five-match Test series with England that starts next week.

The India captain had planned to play country cricket for Surrey, something that was prevented by injury as it turns out.

But India have been in Europe since late June, playing first two Twenty20 matches with Ireland, and then playing a T20 series and a one-day international series with England, before starting a three-day match against English county side Essex on Wednesday at Chelmsford.

The aim undeniably is to get as many players used to English conditions as possible ahead of the first Test at Edgbaston next Wednesday.

When you consider in 2014, the last time India toured England, they played only two warm-up matches against county sides, a great deal more time has been allowed for players to prepare this time.

You have to go back to 1986 for the last time India won the opening Test of a series on English soil, and Kohli will know that historically the start to the action has usually been important in dictating how the action will go on to unfold over the summer.

Here is a look back at the first Test of the past six series in England between the two sides.

Aug 1990:  India wicket keeper Kiran More can only watch as Graham Gooch of England cover drives during his mammoth innings of 333 in the Test Match at Lords.                                    Mandatory Credit: Adrian Murrell/Allsport UK
Graham Gooch's 333 set the tone for the 1990 series as England went on to beat India in the series. Getty Images


England captain Graham Gooch pulled apart the India bowling attack at Lord’s as he hit 333 in a first innings score of 653-4 declared in the first Test of the three-match series that set up a 247-run victory.

India would improve as the series wore on. Sachin Tendulkar made his first hundred in a draw at Old Trafford, and India dominated the third Test at The Oval, making England follow on, before an unbeaten 157 from David Gower saved the hosts and denied India a series-levelling victory.

8 June 1996:  Sachin Tendulkar on his way to a century against England with Jack Russell looking on during the third days play in the First England v India Cornhill Test Match at Edgbaston. Mandatory Credit: Adrian Murrell/ALLSPORT
Sachin Tendulkar predicted that Prithvi Shaw would one day play for the Indian cricket team. Getty Images


India again lost a three-match series because of a slow start.

They lost to England by eight wickets at Edgbaston in the first Test, where despite a second innings 122 by Tendulkar they were well beaten.

India shook up their batting line-up for the second Test at Lord’s, giving Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid their debuts and both shone as they hit 131 and 95 in a game that England had to bat out the last day to save.

The third Test at Edgbaston was also a draw, to ensure England claimed the series, with the bat dominating as both sides made more than 500 in their first innings.

LONDON - JULY 28 :  Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain of England celebrate Vaughan's first test wicket during the fourth day of the first npower test match between England and India at Lords in London on July 28, 2002. (Photo By Ben Radford/Getty Images) England won the test match by 170 runs.
Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain of England celebrate the former's first Test wicket at Lord's in 2002. Getty Images


India were well beaten by 170 runs in the first Test at Lord’s. They were also second best in the second Test at Trent Bridge, trailing by 260 runs after the first innings.

But, Dravid’s 115 in the second innings helped India escape with a draw and this would galvanise them.

Tendulkar’s 193 led India to victory by an innings and 46 runs in the third Test at Headingley, and that proved to be enough to draw the series as the final Test of the four-match series at The Oval was washed out.

LONDON - JULY 23:  Indian batsman Mahendra Dhoni hits a boundary past fielder Alastair Cook during day five of the First Test Match between England and India at Lords on July 23, 2007 in London, England  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni helped India avoid defeat at Lord's before the tourists went on to win the series. Getty Images


For the first since 1986 India did not lose the first Test and it set them up for a series win.

England had the better of the first Test at Lord’s, but India’s last pair MS Dhoni and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth survived five overs before bad light ended play early to allow the tourists to escape with a draw.

India made full use of their fortune as Zaheer Khan took nine wickets at Trent Bridge as they won the second Test by seven wickets.

A first innings score of 664 at The Oval then ensured India of the draw they needed at The Oval to clinch the three-match series 1-0.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 25:  England bowler Stuart Broad (c) celebrates with team mates after taking the final wicket of the India innings of Ishant Sharma to win the match during day five of the 1st npower test match between England and India at Lords on July 25, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
India's 2011 tour was a forgettable one for the visitors as England thoroughly dominated the Test series. Getty Images


An awful series for India started as it would go on with an emphatic loss by 196 runs at Lord’s in the first Test.

They had looked as if they may be able to save the match, but lost their final five wickets for just 36 runs.

India would struggled throughout that summer and would not recover from Lord’s as they went on to be whitewashed 4-0 despite Dravid scoring 461 runs at an average of 57.6.

NOTTINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 11:  India bowler Ishant Sharma celebrates after dismissing England batsman Gary Ballance during day three of the 1st  Investec Test Match between England and India at  Trent Bridge on July 11, 2014 in Nottingham, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ishant Sharma took match-winning 7-74 to get India's 2014 tour off to a great start. But the inexperienced touring party were beaten in subsequent matches. Getty Images


India began this series well, which will give Kohli hope for his 2018 squad.

They drew the first Test at Trent Bridge, before 7-74 from Ishant Sharma helped dismiss England at Lord’s in their second innings to secure a 95-run win at Lord’s.

But England hit back and would win the series 3-1 as they would triumph in Southampton, Old Trafford and The Oval.

Given the recent history of losing starts from India, 2007 and 2014 apart, it might not be a coincidence that the Test series is starting at Edgbaston on England’s part.

India have never won in Birmingham and winning, or avoiding defeat, at a location England have only lost once at in the past 17 years (to South Africa in 2008) would be a strong statement of intent for Kohl’s men for the rest of the summer.