On 10th October 2017, when Sri Lanka won the second Test in succession against Pakistan in UAE, it was a huge relief for Indian Cricket freak like me.
It may be intriguing though that what I got to do with a Test series where India is not involved.
During July-August 2017, when India decimated Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka in three-Test series by a clean 3-0, few sceptics had a theory to undermine India’s achievement that Sri Lanka was no longer a formidable force in Cricket. With the retirement of legends like Sangakkara and Jayawardene, Sri Lanka was inexperienced and struggling.
But Sri Lanka’s victory in UAE put things in right perspective. More than a weak Sri Lankan side, it was a potent Indian Test side couple of month’s back which was the reason of that whitewash in island couple of months back. After all winning back to back Test matches against Pakistan in UAE is no humble task to achieve. Pakistan is a decent side these days and confident side as well. It was just four months back when they lifted Champion’s Trophy in England and confidence garnered from there was behind them.
Moreover, Pakistan is a difficult side to beat in UAE. Statistics support this. A couple of year back, Pakistan defeated England 2-0 in Test series played in UAE. Pakistan defeated Australia in 2014-15 with the same margin in UAE.
So we can gloat now that India whitewashed a reasonably strong side. This is to be noted that in the history of Indian Cricket it was the first clean sweep by India in an overseas Test series (with minimum three Test matches in the series). The only instance when India dominated opposition so profoundly in an overseas three-Test series was in 1986 in England. India defeated England in the one-sided contest in first Two Test matches (riding on back to back centuries by Vengsarkar and inspiring bowling from Chetan Sharma) and the third match ended in a draw.
In Sri Lanka, the whitewash becomes more impressive if you look the margin of victories, which was huge in all three Test matches.
This arguably is greatest ever and most balanced Test side India has ever had. The side is the perfect blend of the composed pace attack, spin attack and young and formidable batting line-up. The bench strength is huge and selectors have plenty of options. Take this fact – Test triple centurion Karan Nair does not have a regular place in the side and so does Test centurion and talented off-spinner Jayant Yadav.
But the key difference is aggressive captaincy of Kohli. Viral Kohli has an insatiable appetite for victory. He wants to win each match or rather each session of a Test match. He sets difficult target and vies to achieve them. Take Chennai Test against England last year. It was only Kohli’s aggression and self-belief that India wrapped the Test match. The way he relentlessly chased an improbable victory during the last session on Test was truly incredible. Under Kohli, first time Indian Test side looks capable enough to lift Test series even in trying conditions in Australia and South Africa.
So it was a well-deserved Test victory for India against a strong side in Sri Lanka couple of months back and Sri Lanka’s triumph in UAE endorses this quite immaculately. If India is number one Test side in ICC ranking, then it very well deserves this.
So sceptics (there are not many though) needs to sit silent now give due credit to Indian Test side.
(The Author is NewsMobile iJourno)