India’s Journey To Number One Test Team – Part 1
Third Test, Johannesburg, South Africa, 27th January 2018 –
Late on the day four, Mohammad Shami lured the last South African batsman Lungi Ngidi to play at an outside off-stump delivery, Ngidi’s bat flirted with the ball so slightly that even the umpire failed to hear it. Confident Indians opted for a review and the technology ruled in their favour. The celebrations of an away Test win had started well before the field umpire overturned his decision.
The number one ranked side in the Tests had proved itself worthy in their most difficult test so far.
Third Test, Sydney Cricket Ground, Australia, 6th January 2014 –
India stood on the verge of a new era in Test cricket. The 3-1 series loss in England and 2-0 series loss in the ongoing Australian tour resulted in MS Dhoni not only relinquishing his captaincy, but also his Test career.
The man had taken the reigns over from Anil Kumble in 2008 and was at the helm when India became number one in Tests for the first time in 2009. But now, India stood at the sixth rank in Test cricket. Dhoni had his share of successes and failures in Test cricket and now wished to hand over the crown with thorns.
Heir apparent was none other than Virat Kohli. Kohli’s first impression on India was when he led the Under-19 team to the glory in 2008 at Malaysia. His attitude did not seem to fit in the normal mold of a Test captain, and his batting in Tests was still average.
Yet it was somehow inevitable to keep Virat away from the captaincy. MS Dhoni retired midway in the Australian tour and Virat was made the captain for the fourth Test (Virat had captained in the first Test also, but it was due to MS Dhoni’s ankle injury). Responding to the challenge, he stepped in the shoes majestically.
The Australian run machines worked effortlessly and piled up 572 runs in the first innings. Sydney had historically been in the favor of Indian batsmen, and history repeated itself. The new captain led the way, scoring 147 ably supported by KL Rahul’s Test century. India drew the Test and walked away with a 0-2 loss.
Rain spoiled India’s assured win in the next one-off Test against Bangladesh. In Sri Lanka, the miraculous innings of 162 by Dinesh Chandimal and spin wizardry of Rangana Herath took down the hopes of an easy Indian win in the first test.
Sri Lanka failed to muster a similar performance again and lost the series 1-2. This dramatic series win in August 2015 was the first series win for Virat Kohli and anyways with him around, one can never expect things to not be dramatic.
The mighty South Africans at home (India) were next on the menu. On pitches that assisted spin, South Africa batted as if they were batting blindfolded. The gritty South African team did put up a fight in the last Test though as they crawled to 143 runs in 143 overs but the series was lost 3-0.
India came back from the Caribbean in August 2016 with a 2-0 series victory. The upcoming home season had as many as 13 Tests lined up against four nations. This would be the Litmus Test for Virat Kohli’s captaincy and India’s future in the Test arena. The first guest to arrive was New Zealand.
*Photo credits to India.com
*Click here to read the part 2 of this series