Overseas Wins May Still be at a Premium but India Have Turned Undisputed Champions in Their Backyard
The team would know that things will not come this easy to them in the SENA countries, but, for now, Kohli and his boys have every right to revel in their incredible home run. The overseas inquiries can wait.
There are only a couple of teams, if at all, in world cricket at the moment, who have the capability of giving the home sides a run for their money in Test matches. Even if you look at the current scenario, both Pakistan and England have suffered massive defeats by an innings in Australia and New Zealand respectively.
If you look closely, you find that teams have not really been able to compete in foreign conditions in the long format. New Zealand have done that to some extent with a series win against Pakistan in UAE and drawing level against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.
Missed the mark in 2018
India had a golden opportunity to set the record straight as they set out for their overseas Test jaunt in 2018. It began with the three-match Test series against South Africa which they lost by 2-1. The team showed signs of putting up a fight in the last Test at Johannesburg on a treacherous surface but it came only after the series was done and dusted.
Kohli and his boys then ran England close but the final score line of 4-1 shows little of that. By the time, they reached Australia at the end of the year, they were in a position to win in foreign conditions. A depleted Australian side only made it easier.
A 2-1 series win, which could have easily been 3-1 had rain not played spoilsport in Sydney, was the start of bigger things to come for the Indian Test unit.
While the team will await the next set of overseas Test series to improve their record, wins against West Indies and Sri Lanka while touring notwithstanding, Kohli's men have every reason to be chuffed with their performances at home.
Dominant at home
With an innings win against Bangladesh in the Kolkata Test, the team now holds an unprecedented record of four successive Test wins by an innings. With this victory, India wrapped up the two-match series 2-0 with both Tests taking just about five days in total.
The team now has 12 successive series wins at home, a feat unachieved even by the world beating Australia and West Indies outfits of their era. The pink ball Test victory was India's seventh consecutive Test win, which includes the 2-0 win against West Indies, 3-0 against South Africa and now the 2-0 against Bangladesh, bookended by this Test which was completed in just 968 deliveries, the shortest Test in India.
These statistics still would have been nothing out of the ordinary if this was achieved on the back of spinners on dust bowls. However, with fast bowlers like Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah coming together, the team now feels confident of preparing sporting wickets.
In fact, only 7 overs of spin were bowled by India in the Eden Gardens Test, with the Indian spinners getting no wickets. All the 19 Bangladeshi wickets to fall, Mahmudullah being retired hurt due to a hamstring injury, were taken by Indian pacers.
Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav picked up 12 wickets each while Mohammed Shami bagged 9 in the series. Ravindra Jadeja did not have anything to show in the wickets column in the series while Ravichandran Ashwin, who generally is in possession of the lion's share of wickets, picked up only 5 wickets and that too, with all of them coming in the Indore Test.
Hijacking the World Test Championship
Yes, there is a loophole with the scheduling, but as things stand, as many as five Indian batsmen find a place among the top 10 run scorers in the 2019-2021 ICC World Test Championship. Mayank Agrawal is the second highest with 677 runs, behind Steve Smith. Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli have contributed 624 and 589 runs respectively, both with averages in the 70s.
What borders on funny is that Ravindra Jadeja also finds a place in the list at the 10th spot with 359 runs from 7 matches at an average of almost 60, ahead of Joe Root.
Just like the batting, five Indian bowlers have their names among the top 10 wicket-takers of this two-year Test cycle. Mohammed Shami has picked up the second most wickets behind Australia's Pat Cummins. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav are at the 4th and the 5th place with 25 and 23 wickets.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja occupy the last two places in the top 10 charts with 20 and 19 wickets from 5 and 7 games respectively.
The team would know that things will not come this easy to them in the two-match Test series against New Zealand in February next year. But, for now, Kohli and his boys have every right to revel in their incredible home run. The overseas inquiries can wait.
©Cricket World 2019