It has been 3 days that the Ahmedabad Pink ball test ended in India’s favour in 2 days flat. Various people are trying to suggest in various ways that the wicket was not good for test or this or that. But no one seems to have any valid reason with conviction to say that why it was so bad. They are just too much beating around the bush just to show an unacceptance of the pitch. The truth is it was just another wicket. Yes the result much too faster than expected. In a test where 21/30 wickets fell to straight deliveries, where is the room for doubt.
A bad wicket is usually where the team which wins the toss bats, makes some runs and that becomes enough reason to win the game. For it is only in the first one to one and a half day that the wicket is good to bat. After that it becomes so bad to bat. The ball begins to scoot through or bounce unexpectedly. Remember the Ahmedabad test 1983 when WI crossed swords with India in that World Cup revenge series. The India v Pakistan Bangalore 1987 test. The 2004 India v Australia Mumbai test.
Again it is not that test matches are not ending in 2 days or a little more than that. In fact just on 5th January 2021 the second test between South Africa and Sri Lanka ended on day 3 with just 13 overs bowled on day 3. But no one ever questioned. It just passed out as just another test. The Adelaide Pink test too ended on day 3 with India bowled out for 36, but no one questioned it for the wicket. It was only that India had batted badly. But when England collapsed from 74-2 to 112 and 50-3 to 81, there is no factor of bad batting there.
On the third evening of the final test at Johannesburg India v South Africa in January 2018, the umpires felt that the wicket was so bad for the South African batsmen against the Indian bowling that they wanted to take the batsmen to safety. But the wicket was still not bad.
For me, the win is still sinking in. I was quite disturbed when India from 99-3 collapsed to 145 all out. I had wanted India to atleast get to 160 to anything in the region of 250-300. But even that did not happen as we fell like a pack of cards. We did play a lot of bad and rash shots and needlessly lost wickets. Even though Root took 5-8 ……it was too rash and negligent. It was as if he had made his mind that he would not make his main bowlers bowl.
India recovered from 0-1 to 2-1 in the third test. We still have one to go. We wait for the final result.
However we go down memory lane to visit instances of test series where India has recovered both overseas and home or series where we have won 2 tests back to back. I am not including the series where India did win the first test but went on to lose the series
Another important thing is that it is 35/161 as far as Virat Kohli is concerned. This is his 35th test win as a captain in last 6 years so to say. 161 is the total test wins India has had in about 88 years. Since both are divisible by 7, it becomes 5/23. By the order of statistical sampling, if you pick any 23 test wins across times, there is a possibility that 5 wins may be picked up from the last 6 years. Also it is not 35, it is 39 since Rahane too won 4 tests. So 39 of the last 161 test wins have come through in the last 6 years post-Dhoni retirement. Even under Dhoni we have 27 test wins and Sourav Ganguly 21 test wins. That makes 87 test wins from November 2000. There were a few scattered wins under Dravid and Kumble, that makes the last 20 years as the most winning period of Indian cricket.
It was not till 1951-52 that India won its first test v England at Madras. We were 0-1 down and drew the series 1-1. It stayed that way since that was the last test.
In 1952 Pakistan visited India for the first time and we won the first test at Delhi for the first time ever and lead 1-0 in the series at the end of the first test. Pakistan hit back in the Lucknow test and Fazal Mahmood their pitch carpet specialist bowler reaped a big haul to beat India and square the series 1-1. India hit back again winning the third test at Bombay to lead the series 2-1. It stayed that way as the last test was drawn at Madras. So this was India’s first test series win ever.
In 1964-65 Australia visited India and won the first test. But India won the next test to draw level at 1-1. It remained that way as the series ended 1-1.
India had a long trip to Australia and then to New Zealand in 1967-68 that was going in to bring in something new in the Indian cricketing history. While India had completely lost the series 4-0 at Australia, the trip to New Zealand was different. For the first time ever we won a first test overseas under the captaincy of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi. New Zealand hit back in the second test to square the series 1-1. But India again for the first time ever won 2 tests back to back to win the series 3-1. Till then in about 36 years of test cricket, India had never won 2 tests back to back.
MAK Pataudi was the first Indian captain who taught them the art of win and aggressive cricket. He taught them how to challenge the rivals, he made the Indian bowlers to tempt the batsmen and bag their wickets. Chandra Prasanna and Bedi have made rave comments for their most favorite captain.
In 1974-75 Clive Lloyd toured India and won the first 2 tests. But India came back 2-2 winning the Calcutta and Madras test. MAK Pataudi had to be requested to come back as captain after India lost 3-0 v England in England.
Same things happened in 1977-78 in Australia. India lost the first 2 tests but stormed back in the next 2 tests to win at Melbourne and Sydney. This was under Bishen Singh Bedi.
India toured Australia in 1980-81 again and lost the Sydney test first up. But they came back to square the series 1-1 in the last test of the series at Melbourne with one historic performance. In this test they not only trailed Australia in the series 1-0 they trailed them by 182 runs on the first innings. Still they managed to get 324 runs in the second innings and leading by 142 runs, they bowled out Australia for 83 runs to win the test by 59 runs. Kapil Dev on injections took 5-28. This was also the last test win in Australia for the next 22 years and more.
It took a while for India in 1986 in England to win the first 2 tests of the series. One of their lowest totals of 102 was scored in the Leeds test 1986. Also the series ended 2-0 in India’s favour.
Later in 1986-87 Sri Lanka visited India and I waited for this series since I wanted India to take revenge of the loss in 1985. While the first test at Kanpur was drawn with India amassing 676-7 declared, the last 2 tests at Nagpur and Cuttack brought us big wins on underprepared tracks. Trust me whenever Sri Lanka comes to India it is winning time for India, except the 1997 series under Sachin Tendulkar in India.
In 1987 post the Reliance World Cup WI had stayed back to play a test series of 4 test series. India squared the series in the final test of the series with a huge win in Chennai with a Kapil Dev 100 and Hirwani taking 16-136 on debut.
It was again England in 1992-93 that India won the first test at home again and went on to win the entire series 3-0. This was the start of the domination of India under Mohammad Azharuddin at home on underprepared tracks and Anil Kumble leading the charge.
However, India faced a lot of heat as Anil Kumble would have a terrible time overseas and India would mostly end up losing without a fight, and Kumble hardly managing wickets in these series. They were called dust bowl wins.
In 1993-94 it was again Sri Lanka time to come to India and we swamped SL by an innings in all the 3 tests of the series.
India beat New Zealand in the first test of the 1995 series at Bangalore.
In the 1996 one off test at the start of the Border Gavaskar trophy India beat Australia at Delhi in 1996 to mark off the start of Sachin Tendulkar captaincy reign with a win.
In 1997-98 India won 2 tests back to back at Madras and Calcutta under Mohammad Azharuddin with Sachin Tendulkar leading the batting and Anil Kumble the bowling.
Now came 2000 and it was time for Sourav Ganguly to be the captain. India in the first test under him beat Bangladesh in Bangladesh.
Later again v Zimbabwe at home India won the first test at Delhi by 7 wickets to mark the first win for Sourav Ganguly in India too.
However all fades when we talk of the India Australia series in India in 2001. We still lost the first test at Mumbai pretty badly and where mostly losing the second test too at Kolkata till the close of day 3 on March 13, 2001, a Tuesday. But day 4 and 5 turned around a corner of the history in the test match as India beat Australia in Kolkata by 171 runs. In fact the current India England series has been on the same weeks of that series from the second day of the second Chennai test down to the end of the Ahmedabad test 2 days back. In fact the first 2 days of the Ahmedabad test were the last 2 days of the Chennai 2001 test and it was good that India finished the test in 2 days in the winning umbrella of that series.
Now this was the first time ever that India down 0-1 not only won 1 but 2 tests back to back to win the series 2-1.
In 2004 in Pakistan India started with a win v Pakistan at Multan. However we lost the second test at Lahore to have the series 1-1. But when Sourav Ganguly returned as skipper we won the Rawalpindi test to win the series 2-1. This was the second series v Pakistan where India has gone from 1-0 to 1-1 and returned 2-1 as winners first in 1952 in India and 52 years later in Pakistan.
Meanwhile India won a 2 test series in Zimbabwe in September 2005.
India visited New Zealand in 2009 and won the first test by 10 wickets. This was finally a test win in New Zealand after 33 years. Since India managed to draw the second test and slipped a win into a draw, the series ended as a 1-0 win for India in New Zealand after 41 years. This happened under Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The entire career of Kapil Dev 434 wickets Srinath 236 wickets Kumble 619 wickets, a total of 1289 test wickets but none in a winning cause in New Zealand. These are some deep stories of apathies in Indian cricket. While under Kapil Dev, there are other memorable winning moments, there is very little under both Srinath and Kumble.
Finally in SL when we went to play under Dhoni, we still lost the first test of the series, but we drew the second test of the series and then managed to win the third test of the series to draw 1-1. The 1997 series was a 0-0 draw but this was a 1-1 draw and India had managed to come back in the series in SL for the first time. Again follow the name Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
India won 2-0 in the 2010 home series v Australia with great batting and bowling performances by India.
Later in South Africa India again lost the first test of the series but came back 1-1 in the second test of the series. We missed a win in the third test and also managed to draw it with good batting on the last day of the final test.
India won 2-0 in the 2012 August series v New Zealand at home in a 2 test series.
India won 4-0 in the 2013 series v Australia at home in a 4 test series.This turned out to be the last test win for India under Mahendra Singh Dhoni. So we can say India should have 122 test wins as of the 4th test v Australia at home.
India had been playing well under Virat Kohli but test wins eluded India.
Things changed for India from Sri Lanka in 2015 in August even as India managed to lose the first test v SL. But India stormed back 2-1 in the series-winning 2 test in SL back to back for the first time and winning a series in SL after 22 years. The last win India had v SL in SL was the only test win outside India in the whole of 1990s against the then minnows SL. So Indian winning stock in SL was rising now.
India won 3-0 in the 4 test series v South Africa at home in 2015.
India won 3-0 v New Zealand at home in 2016 in a very long home season.
India beat England 4-0 at home and the one-off test v Bangladesh at home.
When everything looks good, a sudden win can be like a stone thrown in a peaceful water place. The same thing happened in the first test v Australia at Pune 2017 but it was later found out to be a DRS scam. Either way India stormed back 2-1 in the series, first squaring the series at Bangalore and then winning the last test under Rahane.
Later in 2017 India beat SL 3-0 in SL for the first time.
In 2018 in Australia we managed to win the first test at Adelaide. While Australia managed to come back with a Perth win, India beat them again to lead the series 2-1 at the end of the third test. The last test at Sydney was drawn but India had won a series in Australia for the first time 2-1. A huge landmark.
2019 was a year of wins at home as we beat South Africa 2-0 and then Bangladesh 1-0 which was their first Pink ball test.
Coming to December 2020 in a pandemic year India managed to lose the first test a Pink test at Adelaide. India was bowled out for its lowest total 36 runs ever on 19th December 2020.
However in a great recovery under Rahane we managed to come back in a 2-1 win in Australia in back to back series albeit a different captain. But we have talked of 39 wins here with 4 coming from Rahane.
So move over Indian detractors. This was not just a series where India was recovering back in a series this was a back-to-back series win in Australia. For the first time on December 30, 2018 and 2020 India had a test win in Australia for the first time ever.
The current series is again a recovery series and we are 2-1 at the end of the third test. We have 2 back to back test wins also.
Indian winning has always been few and far between and you can see India not winning for years and decades. No test win in New Zealand for 33 years and no series win in 41 years. No test win in Australia for 22 years, no test win in England for 16 years and WI for 26 years. While New Zealand has not won in India for 32 years now, WI not in 26 years, SL never ever …….is not given any importance.Looking at all these the wins that we had from 2000 and more of those from 2015 form a very important part of the Indian wins. An oasis in the desert.
By Paramdeep Rathee