Great season for Indian Test team

Not since and before the Sourav Ganguly-led team’s stunning turnaround in Kolkata in 2001 against Australia, has an Indian team shown the ability to stare adversity in its face and conquer it in the manner in which Virat Kohli and Co have done. Starting with the four-Test series against the West Indies in mid-2016, India reeled off five consecutive series wins, beating all comers and finishing the season as the No. 1 Test team on ICC’s rankings. The 2-1 win over Steve Smith’s Australia was the fitting end to a season of unprecedented success which saw India stack up 12 wins out of 17 Tests. They drew four while the lone defeat came against Australia in Pune.

The unexpected loss on a raging turner set the tone for what turned out to be a combustive series both on and off the field. While cricket in itself was absorbing with no quarter given and none asked, the series saw one too many “gates” that it could have done without. Singularly targeted, and unfairly on most occasions, in what appeared to be a concerted effort by a section of the Aussie media, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland and several former players from Down Under, Kohli had to revisit his statement at the start of the series and “end his friendship” with the Australian players. A statement which he retracted on Thursday and which is as welcome a development as Smith’s apology at the end of the tournament.

While the hostilities between the two sides did grab several eyeballs, the on-field battles were no less riveting. Though India pulled off a relatively comfortable win
in the decider at Dharamsala, it was hard to write off Australia’s chances till their dramatic collapse in their second innings. Given little chance against the high-flying hosts, the inexperienced Australia displayed great adaptability to fight India on equal footing throughout the series, which also held mirror to India’s resilience. The most heartening aspect of India’s win was that it was achieved with little contribution from Kohli, their best batsman. He even sat out the final Test which saw the emergence of a new kid — chinaman Kuldeep Yadav. And so did Ravindra Jadeja. The left-arm spinner comfortably outperformed R Ashwin and emerged out of his senior spin partner’s shadows. While K L Rahul, without a century in seven innings, easily made the maximum impact with the bat, Cheteshwar Pujara underlined his value to the side in emphatic fashion. The impressive performance of India’s pacemen, particularly that of Umesh Yadav, was the biggest positive. And as India look to conquer on overseas tours, it only augurs well for them.

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