On 7th January 2019, the continuous rains in Sydney denied India from winning against Australia on the ground, however, after being declared as the winners based on scores, India finally won a test series in Australia’s home ground after 71 years of struggle.
Captain Virat Kohli became the first captain to guide India to a test Series victory. The sweet sensation was visible as the Border-Gavaskar trophy was handed to Virat and his team. India dominated in all departments from the very beginning – batting, bowling, and fielding.
The performance of Cheteshwar Pujara was outstanding. He ensured that the Australians faced a hard time during the test series, sending them on a leather hunt. The ‘Saurashtra’ batsmen scored the highest runs in the four test matches, with 521 runs in 7 innings at an average of 74.42. His knock included three centuries.
With a high score of 193, Pujara reclaimed the tag of ‘The Great Indian Wall’ and was also awarded the man of the match and man of the Series Trophy for his performance. Former Australian cricketer Ian Chappell had a few words for Pujara:
Jasprit Bumrah claimed the title of the highest wicket-taker of the series. The 25-year old took 21 wickets at an average of 17 runs, including one five-wicket haul, which showed that the player bowled every ball with a ‘mean’ purpose throughout the series. Talking about the brilliant start that Bumrah’s Test career has got, former captain and coach of the Indian Cricket Team, Anil Kumble revealed in an interview to Cricketnext that the Gujarat pacer was always on India’s radar for Test cricket.
Mayank, the new prodigy
Mayank Agarwal surprised everyone as he scored a brilliant 76 runs off 161 balls, giving India a fighting opportunity during the Melbourne match. The Karnataka batsmen had a difficult situation to overcome as he was thrust into the field to cover for the failures of Murali Vijay and K.L. Rahul, in the first two test matches. However, he took on the opposition aggressively and confidently and proved his capability against both spinners and pacers which augurs well for India.
The evolution of India under Virat
When Mahendra Singh Dhoni gave up captaincy back in December 2014 after the Melbourne test match, Virat Kohli was given the task to lead India. Kohli, by then, had been groomed as the next captain of the Indian side and had led the team in Adelaide when Dhoni missed out due to an injury. Spectators know Kohli to be an aggressive captain from his U-19 days but no one would have predicted the success Kohli has had as a captain. The Indian Cricket team has come a long way from its aggressive roots.
Kohli has ensured that loosing cool doesn’t always benefit the team and has successfully inculcated a positive attitude among his members. Kohli’s immediate task after gaining Test captaincy was to play the last test match against Australia. India had already lost the series and was given a target of 349 in their second innings. At 201/3, with a set Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane at the crease, India looked comfortable but the loss of four wickets for just 16 runs and a little over ten overs meant India had to negotiate the remaining overs for a draw.
India then went to Bangladesh in the hope of a first win under Kohli but large periods of rain meant the test ended in a draw. Kohli’s true test as a captain took place during the test series in Sri Lanka where India had not won for more than 22 years. Things looked bleak when India lost the first match, but soon the tides were turned when India won the series 2-1. That was their first away series in four years.
After the win in Sri Lanka, India won the four-match home test series against South Africa with a 3-0 lead. Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja came to fore as they picked up 31 and 23 wickets respectively. India then toured the Caribbean Islands and defeated the West Indies with a lead of 2-0 quite comfortably.
After the Carribean tour, India was scheduled to face 12 test matches at home spread across four series in 2016-17. The first of those was against New Zealand, whom India brushed aside in a 3-0 whitewash. India followed it up with a 4-0 win over England in a five-match test series. Kohli scored an amazing 655 runs in the series.
Captain Kohli takes over all formats
Just before the ODI series against England went underway, MS Dhoni announced his decision to retire as captain from the limited formats of the game as well. Kohli was handed over the role in all formats. He went off to a good start with a 2-1 win over England. India won the solitary Test match against Bangladesh and then beat the Australians 2-1 in a competitive series in 2017.
Kohli’s next task as captain was the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. India reached the finals but lost to arch-rivals Pakistan. However, India shrugged off the loss with a 3-1 ODI series win in West Indies. India toured Sri Lanka in late July 2017 and won all games across all three formats in the island nation.
The Aussies visited India in September and the Indians beat them convincingly 4-1 in a five-match ODI series. Kohli’s men also beat the other Tasman nation, New Zealand, in the home stretch 2-1. The weak Sri Lanka side toured India in late 2017 but could not match the class of Kohli’s team. India won the test series 1-0 and the ODI series 2-1. India toured South Africa next in a tough away series. While they lost the Test series 2-1, they won the ODI series 5-1.
India’s schedule for 2019
|Australia||Away||3 ODI’s||January 12-18th|
|New Zealand||Away||3 ODI’s, 3 T-20’s||January-February|
|Australia||Home||5 ODI’s, 3 T-20’s||February-March|
|Zimbabwe||Home||1 Test, 3 ODI’s||March|
|West Indies||Away||2 Tests, 3 ODI’s, 3 T-20’s||July-August|
|South Africa||Home||3 Tests||October-November|
|Bangladesh||Home||2 Tests, 3 T-20’s||November-December|
|West Indies||Away||3 ODI’s, 3 T-20’s||December|
*World Cup 2019 fixtures to be played between 30th May & 14th July
Sources: SportsKeeda, TOI, Cricketbuzz
Image Credits: The Financial Express, IndiaTV