Last week, Indian Cricket Team made history. It won 1st ever Test Series against Australia in Australia. This was long overdue. To be honest, (due to bad performances in past) I didn’t think it would happen so soon. But it did happen. Kudos to Team India for their great effort. Critics would say this is probably worst ever Australian test team. But India still had to outperform them in 4 match series. Barring 2nd test match India dominated the series. They were outstanding in every department.
After victory in 1st Test Match, India’s coach Ravi Shastri made an interesting observation. During 2018 England Tour, India lost 1st test match by 31 runs. Coincidentally this was winning margin of 1st against Australia. Barring result, the script of test was fairly similar. Team Batting first had taken a very small lead and then bowled out opposition and ensured the victory. This was 1st time India had won 1st test match of a series in Australia as well. In a way this test series of first of many things. India batsman outscoring OZ batsman, India bowlers taking more wickets than Oz bowlers. Indians dropping fewer catches than opposition.
As tour concluded, lot of positives emerged for Team India. In batting department, India finally has a proper opener for test cricket in form of Mayank Agrawal. Outside subcontinent, we need a partner for him. KL Rahul and Murali Vijay are not good enough. If there was ever a doubt, Pujara has cemented his position as # 3 in India batting line up. His ability to spend time in middle is amazing. India has found a worthy successor of Rahul Dravid. Then Kohli at 4 and Rahane 5 finish the top order. Pant proved his credentials as batsman and keeper. After returning from injury Wriddhiman Saha is going to struggle to get into this team. In bowling department, Jasprit Bumrah has been the star. He is probably best fast bowler in the world now. He was brilliantly supported by Umesh Yadav, Shami and Ishant Sharma. Ashwin and Jadeja played role of sole spinner well in 1st and 3rd test. Their ability to score runs lower down the order is also very helpful bonus.
If you’re someone like me who is born in 1980s and look at the statistics from the series, you wouldn’t believe these #s. For example, Bumrah is the highest wicket taker in series (joint top with Lyon) with 21 wickets. He has strike rate of 44. That’s 1 wicket in every 44 bowls. During childhood our generation had dreams of having such a great talent in Indian bowling line-up. While performance of India’s fast bowler unit was amazing, Australia’s highest wicket taker is off spinner Nathan Lyon. In past, great like Shane Warne couldn’t achieve this feat. This just goes to show how well Indian batting unit handled Oz pace attack. Indian batting unit was simply outstanding. In all 4 test matches, they played superbly. They ensured there were enough runs on board to allow bowling attack to take 20 wickets. Pujara was highest run scorer in the series with 521 runs. Australia’s top scorer Marcus Harris managed 258 runs, nearly half of that. If you’re looking for a single stat that shows how good Indian bowling attack was, then here it is. 3 Indian batsmen (Pujara, Kohli and Pant) between them scored 5 centuries in the series, OZ batsman managed ZERO!
With great batting unit and bowlers firing all cylinders India has a great chance of winning next summer’s world cup. After current Australia tour, India go to New Zealand. After that Australia visit India for ODI and T20 series. Then song and dance of IPL begins. Then Team India gets ready for world cup in June 2019.
Hopefully Team management would ensure players don’t play too much cricket and are fully fit for world cup. My only concern is grueling IPL. My hope is BCCI and IPL teams can work out something that would ensure key members of team India don’t get tired and/or injured. However, I am not too optimistic of something like that happening. The fact that BCCI chose to gave rest to Jasprit Bumrah now (ODI series in Australia and subsequent tour of New Zealand) goes to show BCCI may not be able to dictate Mumbai Indians how much rest Bumrah should get. There was similar evidence on offer in Australia as well. While Australian team was struggling against India in test series, the selectors couldn’t tweak the team much as Australia’s domestic T20 league BBL was in progress. T20 taking priority over National Team is ridiculous, but T20 makes money for various cricket boards and has last laugh.
Hopefully BCCI and Team Management can ensure there are no injury problems and core group of players is ready for World Cup. If that happens, India would be one of the favorites for sure! Fingers Crossed…