Kambli mesmerises Wankhede (February 1993)
There are two completely differing opinions on Vinod Kambli. One section believes the left-hander was highly overrated while another group feels he was unlucky not to have played more Tests irrespective of his struggles in his later five-day games. There can, however, be no two opinions about the fact that his double hundred against England at his home ground, the Wankhede Stadium, during the 1993 series, was among the finest knocks played by an Indian in Test cricket. India had already won the three-match series, but were keen to continue their supremacy, and Kambli played a major hand in India clean sweeping the Englishmen 3-0.
Kambli’s knock set up the victory perfectly for India. The home side were batting second after England posted an impressive 347 in their first innings. The Indians got off to a comfortable start thanks to their openers, and Kambli build on that solid foundation by playing an innings that was near flawless in its execution. The left-hander hardly looked in trouble during his stay at the crease, and was at equal ease against both the pacers as well as the spinners.
Kambli slammed as many as 23 fours in his knock of 224, which lasted a marathon 608 minutes and 411 balls. England had a decent attack, with the likes of Phil DeFreitas, Chris Lewis. John Embury and Phil Tufnell in their ranks. Yet, no one could trouble the Mumbai batsman. Kambli walked out to the crease with the score reading a comfortable 109 for 1, and by the time he eventually departed, caught by Mike Gatting off Lewis’s bowling India had progressed to a massive 563. Till date, the innings Kambli constructed at Wankhede is spoken of highly in cricketing circles whenever discussions on India versus England Tests take place.
Other impressive performances during the Test
England’s first innings score of 347 was made around a wonderful 178 by Graeme Hick, who struck 20 fours and one six during his knock. Robin Smith and Gatting scored half-centuries in England’s second innings, but it wasn’t enough to stop England from crumbling to an innings defeat. For India, Kambli got good support from Navjot Sidhu, Sachin Tendulkar and Pravin Amre, all of whom registered scores in excess of 50. As for their bowling, Kapil Dev scalped three wickets in England’s first innings even as Manoj Prabhakar did the same during the second essay. Anil Kumble ended with seven wickets for the match.
Kambli vs England
The 1993 series was the only one Kambli played against England. He ended with 317 runs for the series, 224 of those coming at Wankhede. Thanks to the knock, Kambli averaged 105 in the series. Sad, he couldn’t build on that brilliant start to his international journey.
--By A Cricket Analyst