KL Rahul flicked the ball towards midwicket and took 3 runs, even though only 2 were required to win the Test and the series. Rahul pumped his fist, his emotions showing the importance of that victory. India regained the Border-Gavaskar trophy after being thrashed in the series opener in Pune. Despite losing that first match, India’s players stood up and applied themselves, managing to clinch the series.
This was the 4th time India has won the series after being down 1-0. However, it’s much more impressive when the team that comes from behind to claim victory is the visiting team in foreign conditions. Here are some great instances where the visiting team won the series after losing the first Test (starting with one exception).
1. Australia vs England (The 1936-37 Ashes, winner Australia 3-2)
England won the first two Tests of the series. Australia’s batsmen surrendered to the pace of Bill Voce and Sir Gubby Allen. Australia had been dismissed for a sub-100 score twice in the first two Tests. Australia made 4 changes to their squad for the Test and Sir Don Bradman played the innings of the series despite suffering from severe chill, which not only turned the match in Australia’s favour but turned the series as well. In the second innings, Bradman arrived when the scoreboard read as 97-5. His 270 was rated the best Test innings of all time by Wisden. Australia won the game and turned their fortunes. Bradman scored 2 more centuries in the 2 remaining matches of the series which Australia won 3-2.
Even though Australia was the home side, this series is included as it was the first and only instance in the history of the cricket when a team won the series after losing the first two Tests.
2. Pakistan vs Sri Lanka (1995-96, winner Sri Lanka 2-1)
Pakistan won the first Test by an innings as their star bowlers Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Saqlain Mushtaq, all took wickets. In the second Test, Akram and Saqlain rattled the Sri Lankan top order again. Hashan Tillakaratne arrived at 33-4 and played the innings of his life. He singlehandedly took Sri Lanka over 200 and scored 60.52% of the team’s runs. His final contribution ended up being 115 of a total of 223. Muttiah Muralitharan and Chaminda Vaas took wickets at crucial stages and Sri Lanka won the match by 42 runs. This boosted their spirits, as they outplayed Pakistan in the final Test and won the series.
3. England vs New Zealand (1999, winner New Zealand 2-1)
This was a 4-match series. England won the first match thanks to the batting heroics of Alex Tudor. Tudor was sent as a night-watchman and scored 99*, the highest score by an English night-watchman, and won the game for his team. New Zealand bounced back with a victory in second Test and the third Test ended in a draw. New Zealand won the last game with the help of all round performance of Chris Cairns. He took 5 wickets in first innings to ensure New Zealand had a crucial lead and then scored 80 runs in the second innings, the top score of the match. New Zealand won the match and the series. This was their only 2nd series win in England.
4. Sri Lanka vs England (2001, winner England 2-1)
England lost the first Test at Galle by an innings thanks to the spin duo of Muralitharan and Sanath Jayasuriya. In the second Test, the English seamers set up victory. They took 17 of the 20 wickets and the star was Darren Gough, who took 8 wickets in the match: twin 4-fers in each innings. The third Test was balanced after both teams had batted. England took a lead of only 8 runs. The pitch suddenly became unplayable in 2nd innings and Sri Lanka were bundled out for 81 runs. England lost 6 wickets chasing the target of 74, but managed to win the match and the series.
5. New Zealand vs England (2008, winner England 2-1)
England lost the first Test on the last day, when they had to chase 300 runs in 81 overs. Kyle Mills, not considered as a good red ball contender, took apart the top order and England were 30-4 at lunch. New Zealand finished up after lunch and England lost the game by 189 runs. In the 2nd match, English wicket keeper Tim Ambrose, playing only his 2nd Test, controlled the innings with a brilliant counterattacking century and gave England bowlers a score to fight. James Anderson took a 5-fer to secure the lead. In the second innings, every England batsmen from the top six scored well to set New Zealand 438 to win. New Zealand fought hard but Sidebottom struck with 2nd new ball and took England to victory. In the last Test, Sidebottom took 7 wickets in first innings and Pietersen, Strauss and Bell all scored centuries, leading them to triumph.
6. India vs England (2012-13, winner England 2-1)
This series was India’s first loss at home in 8 years and England’s first series win in India after 27 years. England arrived with huge doubts about their ability to play spin and their greatest fears were realised in the first Test, which they lost by nine wickets. New captain Alastair Cook scored an epic 176, and inspired England for the rest of the series. The two English spinners, Graeme Swann & Monty Panesar, outplayed Indian spinners and claimed 19 wickets in the 2nd Test. Kevin Pietersen reached new levels of mastery with 186 - perhaps his best Test innings. England won the third Test with Cook’s mammoth 190 – his 3rd century of the series – and the reverse swing of James Anderson and Steven Finn. England took the lead and drew the last match to finish one of the greatest series victories in the sub-continent.
7. Sri Lanka vs India (2015, winner India 2-1)
Sri Lanka won the first match at Galle despite conceding a lead of 192 runs. Dinesh Chandimal led the way in second innings with a counter attacking 162, after which Rangana Herath took seven wickets to complete an improbable victory. India failed to chase a mere 176. Virat Kohli blamed his batsmen, who stepped up their game in the second game. Rahul, Kohli, Rohit, Rahane and Saha were all among the run getters. Ashwin and Amit Mishra took 8 wickets between them in second innings to hand Sri Lanka a defeat of 278 runs.
With the series level at 1-1 after playing on two turning pitches, Sri Lanka prepared a green top for the last match. Angelo Matthews decided to bowl and the decision was paying off as India was 180 for 7 with only Pujara left as a recognised batsman. India’s tail was batting and Sri Lanka hoped to finish things off quickly, but Amit Mishra gave Pujara the support required. The duo added 104 for the eighth wicket. Pujara carried his bat and scored 145* and took India’s total to a respectable 312 which was very good given the circumstances and pitch. The much-maligned Ishant Sharma took a 5-fer and gave India a vital lead of 111 runs. In second innings, Sri Lanka picked wickets at regular intervals, but with some useful lower order contributions India set a target of 386. Angelo Matthews scored a fighting century but he ran out of support on the other end. India completed the series victory on the island, their first in 22 years.
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