1152 runs at 41.14 in 28 innings
Gavaskar’s position at the top of the order is hardly debatable, for he has been one of the most consistent Indian willow-wielders in England. Gavaskar’s first appearance in England was on the victorious 1971 tour, and he created an impression with assured fifties at Lord’s and Old Trafford. Old Trafford was also the scene of the first of his two hundreds in England — a resolute 101 in a losing cause in 1974. His greatest moment, however, came five years later at The Oval.
In what was the final Test of the 1979 series, India needed to chase down a record 438 if they were to square the series. They almost got there — they finished at 429/8 — thanks to a monumental effort from Gavaskar, who batted for over eight hours to compile a heroic 221. Gavaskar’s last outing in England was in 1986, when he managed one fifty from six innings. He thus remains the only Indian to have been part of two squads that won a Test series in England.
395 runs at 39.50 in ten innings and 20 wickets at 33.90 in nine innings
Facing the new ball with Gavaskar is Mulvantrai ‘Vinoo’ Mankad, India’s first great Test all-rounder. Though Mankad played only six Tests in England, he did enough to merit a place in this XI. He made his Test debut at Lord’s in 1946, scoring 63 in the second innings. Lord’s was also the scene of his finest performance, on the 1952 tour. With knocks of 72 and 184, and a haul of 5/231 with his left-arm spin, Mankad stamped his class even as India lost by eight wickets.
1376 runs at 68.80 in 23 innings
The dependable Dravid has been India’s most prolific run-scorer in England. Right from his Test debut at Lord’s in 1996, when he struck a composed 95, Dravid invariably thrived in Old Blighty. He was at his best in 2002, as he helped India draw the four-match series 1-1 by logging 602 runs at 100.33. He scored three centuries in the series — 115 at Trent Bridge, 148 at Headingley (which set up a famous Indian win by an innings and 46 runs), and 217 at The Oval.
While the 2007 tour was not bountiful with the bat for Dravid, he had the satisfaction of leading India to a 1-0 win, becoming only the third Indian captain after Ajit Wadekar and Kapil Dev to win a Test series in England. In his final tour, in 2011, he ended up being the only batsman to stand up to the English onslaught as India were drubbed 4-0. He began with 103* at Lord’s, followed it with 117 at Trent Bridge, and finally, carried his bat at The Oval for a fighting 146*.
1575 runs at 54.31 in 30 innings
The irrepressible Tendulkar was at home in all conditions against all opponents, and England was no exception. Among Indians, he has played the most Tests (17) and has scored the most runs (1575) in England. As a 17-year-old, he wowed the English audience on his first tour of the country in 1990, scoring 68 and 119* at Old Trafford, the latter helping India save the Test from a dire situation. By the 1996 tour, he was touted as the best batsman in the side, and he was up to the task.
Despite another series defeat for India, Tendulkar starred with two centuries — a lone-ranging innings of 122 at Edgbaston and a glorious 177 at Trent Bridge. In 2002, he top-scored with 193 to play a pivotal role in India’s thumping win at Headingley, and also played his part with 91 in the Trent Bridge victory of 2007. His final tour of England, in 2011 at the age of 38, was a disappointment by his standards, as he finished with 273 runs at 34.12 without scoring a century.
960 runs at 48.00 in 23 innings
‘Colonel’ Vengsarkar earned the sobriquet of ‘Lord of Lord’s’ for being the only visiting batsman to have scored three Test hundreds at the Mecca, in consecutive Tests at that. His love affair with the hallowed turf began in 1979, when he made 103 in the second innings. In 1982, it was a gutsy 157 — with India following on — that made it to the honours board, while in 1986, he followed his 126* at Lord’s with 102* at Headingley as India won both Tests to clinch the series.
915 runs at 65.35 in 15 innings
The combative Ganguly had a dream start to his Test career, as he announced himself with 131 on debut at Lord’s in 1996. As if this was not enough, he backed it up with 136 in his very next innings at Trent Bridge. Six years later, he captained India to a commendable draw while also contributing with the bat, scoring 68 and 99 and Trent Bridge and 128 at Headingley. Likewise, in 2007, he aided India’s march towards a match-winning total at Trent Bridge with a fluent 79.
778 runs at 37.04 in 23 innings and 36 catches in 19 innings
Dhoni narrowly edges out Farokh Engineer and Kiran More for the wicketkeeper’s slot. As captain, he had forgettable tours in 2011 and 2014, but held his own with the bat. In his first Test in England, at Lord’s in 2007, Dhoni made a defiant 76* to guide India to a draw. At The Oval in the same series, he hit a belligerent 92. In 2014, he was India’s second-highest run scorer with a tally of 349, including four half-centuries. His glovework has fetched him 36 catches in 12 Tests.
638 runs in 20 innings at 35.44 and 43 wickets at 39.18 in 22 innings
Considering the fact that he was at the helm when India registered their most comprehensive triumph in England, the 2-0 win in 1986, Kapil has the honour of leading our XI. The great fast-bowling all-rounder has the most wickets by an Indian in England, with his best match returns of 8/168 coming in India’s defeat at Lord’s in 1982. In the same match, he crashed a rip-roaring 55-ball 89 in the second innings, while in 1990, he scored his highest of 110 at The Oval.
36 wickets at 41.41 in 19 innings
Though his average is on the higher side, Anil Kumble has the most wickets by an Indian spinner in England. The seasoned leggie arrived on the Test scene as a bespectacled 19-year-old at Old Trafford in 1990. He had an ordinary outing in 1996, but came into his own on the 2002 tour with 14 wickets, including 7/159 in the Headingley win, before adding another 13 scalps to his kitty in 2007. He could be handy with the bat as well, as displayed with a memorable 110 at The Oval in 2007.
31 wickets at 27.96 in 14 innings
Arguably India’s best ever left-arm pacer, Zaheer took 11 wickets in his first series in England in 2002. His finest hour came at Trent Bridge on the 2007 tour, when he was instrumental in India’s seven-wicket win with a return of 9/134 (4/59 and 5/75). In all, he collected 18 wickets in three Tests and was adjudged India’s player of the series. Unfortunately, the 2011 series ended for him on the very first day, as he was forced off the field after taking 2/18 due to a hamstring injury.
31 wickets at 33.96 in 15 innings
India owed their historic four-wicket win at The Oval in 1971 to the wiles of ‘Chandra’. With the series locked at 0-0 after two games, the leg-spinner turned the decider around by snaring 6/38 to bundle the hosts, who held a first-innings lead of 71, up to 101 in the second innings. This spell paved the way for India’s maiden Test win in England in 22 attempts. Earlier, on the 1967 tour, Chandrasekhar made his mark with a haul of 16 wickets, even though India lost all three Tests.