The Dizzy Giants
India’s dominance in cricket is now a well-established fact as they have proved themselves as a well-oiled machine in all formats of the game.
It is because of this reason, they are currently fourth-ranked in the ODIs whereas, in the five-day format, they are placed second behind leaders New Zealand.
Those standings suggest that the Men-in-Blue have been consistent over a long period, and stats prove the same.
In the last 24 months, Virat Kohli-led side have won 15 out of 20 matches in Test cricket with just three defeats — one of which came in the final of the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship against the Black Caps — whereas two games ended as a draw.
Such numbers suggest that the side from the Subcontinent have been dominating their opponents pretty much in every department.
But, when one looks into details, it portrays a very different picture compared to what many have perceived.
Despite enormous success in Test cricket during the last two years, the fans and critiques often overlooked the team’s vulnerability.
Historically, India’s strength has always been their batting firepower and in the recent past, people have an impression that Kohli’s men have become invincible in that very department.
However, the trio of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s captain, his deputy Ajinkya Rahane and experienced Cheteshwar Pujara have struggled with the bat for the majority of the last two years.
Due to the availability of the supreme talent, India’s method of playing Test cricket has changed significantly in the last few years where they have adopted an attacking style of play and included stroke players like Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant in the mix, all of whom can counterattack against any bowling attack and score quick runs.
To balance things out, they have kept the likes of Pujara, who could be considered as the modern-day Rahul Dravid.
A few years ago, he was the one player who used to hold one end intact, frustrate the opposition’s bowling attack and score crucial runs for the team. But in the last two years, he has only managed to score at an average of 27.65, considerably lower than his career average of 45.27.
Kohli, on the other hand, is being termed as one of the very best of all time, but he has been struggling as well.
On average, the India captain scored a Test century in about every seventh inning. However, it has been 22 innings since the run machine posted his last ton in the five-day format for the side. In the last couple of years, Kohli—who has an outstanding Test average of 51.11—only manages to score at an average of 39.29.
Rahane, who has proved to be an unsung hero in the past, has struggled with the bat as well, as, during that duration, he has only scored 529 runs in the 12 matches at an average of just 27.84, considerably lower than his career average of 40.84.
Even though the team is being famous for their batting lineup, it is the bowlers and the lower middle-order who are coming to the side’s rescue in the last two years.
Young wicketkeeper-batsman Pant, who come to bat at number six, has scored one century and four half-centuries, including scores of 97, 89* and 91 in the last 14 matches and all of those innings came at a time where the likes of Kohli, Pujara and Rahane failed to deliver for the team.
Furthermore, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has rescued the unit multiple times as well as he averages 41.84 in the last 13 matches, courtesy of five half-centuries and numerous good starts.
That detail is a testament to how team India are getting away with senior players missing but if they want to replicate their performances of the first World Test Championship, the seniors will have to join the party — sooner rather than later.
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