Remembering India's first Test win in each of the overseas test-playing nations
India entered the third Test against Sri Lanka with the series already in their bag, having won the first two Tests at Galle and Colombo respectively, the latter one being their first innings victory in Sri Lanka.
This is India’s 18th series win overseas out of the 78 series they have played.
Over the last half a century, India have won against all Test playing nations in their own backyard and have registered many memorable Test wins overseas.
Let’s take a look at India’s first Test win in every overseas country.
#1. New Zealand, 1968
After being whitewashed at Australia, India travelled to New Zealand to play their first Test series in the country. India had an unbeaten record against the Kiwis coming into the series as they had won both their home series against them in 1956 and 1965.
The first Test of the series was held in Dunedin on February 15th, 1968. New Zealand won the toss and captain Barry Sinclair opted to bat first. A brilliant 143 from Graham Dowling assisted by fifties from Bevan Congdon and Mark Burgess took New Zealand to 308 in their first innings. Amongst the Indian bowlers, Syed Abid Ali was the pick of them with 4/26.
In reply, MAK Pataudi-led India scored 359 thanks to half-centuries from Ajit Wadekar and Farookh Engineer. All 11 of India’s batsmen scored in double figures, thus making it only the second time this happened. The first instance when all 11 Indian players scored in double figures was against Pakistan in Kolkata in 1952.
Dick Motz was the pick of the Kiwi bowlers, picking up 5 wickets for 86, his second five for in Tests.
In the second innings, Erapalli Prasanna’s 6/94 limited New Zealand to only 208, thus giving India a target of 200 to chase to win the match. India did not have a very good start as they were 49/2 at a time. However, a partnership of 103 between Ajit Wadekar (71) and Rusi Surti (44) turned the match back into India’s favour.
India eventually won the match by 5 wickets, thus registering their first ever win away from home. India eventually went on to win the four-match series 3-1 which subsequently became their first series win overseas.
#2. West Indies, 1971
More than a year after being beaten by Australia at home, India travelled to the Caribbean to take on the mighty West Indies side led by Gary Sobers and consisting of world class players like Clive Lloyd, Rohan Kanhai, Roy Fredericks, and Lance Gibbs. India were heavy underdogs as they had been whitewashed 5-0 in their previous Tour of West Indies nine years ago.
The first Test at Kingston (where Dilip Sardesai scored 212 in the first innings) ended in a draw. The second Test was held at Port of Spain with Sobers winning the toss and deciding to bat first. India got a very early breakthrough when Syed Abid Ali bowled opener Roy Fredericks in the first over. Barring Charlie Davis (who scored 71), none of the other Windies batsmen were able to stay at the crease for long thanks to the spin duo of Erapalli Prasanna and Bishan Singh Bedi who took 4/54 and 3/46 respectively as the hosts were bowled out for 214.
In reply, India scored 352 with Dilip Sardesai carrying his good form from Kingston, scoring 112, with debutant Sunil Gavaskar and Eknath Solkar scoring 65 and 55 respectively. Amongst the Windies bowlers, Jack Noreiga bowled one of the greatest spells in Test cricket history, picking up 9 wickets for 95 which is yet to be bettered by any other Windies bowler.
In the second innings, West Indies were off to a good start with Fredericks and Rohan Kanhai adding 73 before the latter was dismissed by Bedi. Charlie Davis joined Fredericks at the crease and the duo added 77 for the second wicket before the former got injured and left the field. This triggered a collapse as Fredericks was run out for 80.
India then got the prized wicket of Gary Sobers after Salim Durani of all people dismissed him for a duck. Durani got another big wicket as he dismissed Clive Lloyd following which, Srinivas Venkatraghavan dismissed Steve Camacho and West Indies were 169/5. At this point, Davis returned to the crease to keep the Windies in the match but nothing was stopping Venkat that day. He went on to bring the West Indies lower order down like an avalanche, picking up 5/96 as West Indies were dismissed for 261.
India needed only 124 to win the match. Sunil Gavaskar steered India to a historic victory, scoring 67 and ending his debut Test in style. This was India’s first ever win against and in West Indies and they eventually went on to win the 5-match series 1-0. This remains to be one of India’s most historic Test wins overseas.