India’s journey to number one Test team – Part 2
*To read the part 1 of this series, click here
The first guest to arrive was New Zealand. New Zealand, who boasted a decent side, was expected to put up a fight against the strong Indian team. India dashed all such hopes quite quickly.
197 runs, 178 runs, and 321 runs were the respective winning margins for India in these three Tests against New Zealand. After the thumping win in the second Test, India regained the number one spot in Test cricket, the one which it was determined to not give up soon.
The next visitor England had defeated the hosts in their own spin game on the last tour in 2012-13, could they repeat themselves? Well, India possessed better spinners now, and they promptly wrecked the English batsmen after the drawn first Test.
India owned the five-match Test series against England which ended with the score line 4-0. England batting first, scored 400 and 477 respectively in the last two Tests but even that was not enough to avoid an innings defeat. England’s total of 477 in the first innings of the last Test is the world record for highest first innings score to lose in a Test.
As the results indicate, it had been a smooth sailing ride for India so far. They looked like they were in complete control in each of the Test and grinded every opposition without mercy in each match. After England, they defeated Bangladesh in a one-off Test.
Australia is well known for its trouble with quality spin bowling, so they were expected to be pushovers against the rampaging Indian team. But cricket is not known as the game of glorious uncertainties for nothing; it threw up one of the most bizarre results in Test cricket.
In a stunning reversal, India collapsed spectacularly against Australian spinners in the first Test at Pune. Left-arm spinner Steven O’Keefe picked 6/35 in both the innings as Australia defeated India by a record margin of 333 runs.
Recovering from the shock defeat, India came back strong at the Australians and eventually won the series 2-1. The home season of 13 Tests yielded India 10 wins, two draws and one defeat. In the longest home Test season, Ashwin and Jadeja picked up 82 and 71 wickets respectively while Kohli and Pujara added 1252 and 1316 runs respectively to their bulging Test tally.
Resuming their victorious ways, India dominated Sri Lanka in both home and away Test series. They defeated Sri Lanka four times in six Tests with two matches being drawn. India’s toughest Test though, waited for them in South Africa.
The first Test in South Africa brought flying India down to the floor. Although Indian bowlers impressed with their skills, the batsmen could not stand up to the fiery South African bowling attack. India lost the first two Tests by quite a margin.
The poor showing gave rise to questions on India’s status as number one in Tests, primarily being that they are only home track bullies. The Indians in the Third Test proved that they were not. A spirited comeback on a treacherous pitch by the Indians saw them beating South Africa in the third Test by 63 runs.
That is where things stand as of now. India’s next Test assignment will be in England, a place where they lost their crown humiliatingly in 2011. This will also be a severe Test for Virat Kohli, who has struggled in these conditions. Only the coming time will test the mettle of this number one Test team.