In regard to the Indian Cricket, every decade had its own offering, some unique highlight to showcase.
The decade of the 70s was all about Sunil Gavaskar and spin quartet, and 80s belonged to Kapil Dev and evolution of Indian ODI side post WC triumph in 1983. 90s belonged to the genius of Tendulkar and the rise of Ganguly (batsman) and Dravid. The first decade of Millennium (2000s) brought with it the maverick captaincy of Sourav Ganguly, destructive power of Sehwag and last but not the least – the mercurial rise of MS Dhoni.
Now we are approaching the end of one more decade and the question is: What has been the highlight of this decade? What this decade has given to the Indian Cricket?
The straight answer is – notwithstanding India’s WC victory at the beginning of the decade, the decade arguably belongs to Virat Kohli and the Indian pacers.
I will like to put Indian pacers even before Kohli. For a veteran Cricket freak like me, who has been following Indian Cricket for close to 4 decades now, the pleasure watching world-class Indian bowlers decimating the batting line-up, has been a pleasure, which is not possible to define in words.
The situation has been reversed and template of India’s Test victories at home has changed. India has been a tough side to beat at home for the past 30 years, but always, the onus was on the spinners to finish the job. But not anymore. It is Indian pacers, who are calling the shots. Indians are winning Test matches at home, in the same way, they have always been losing in Australia, England and South Africa, i.e. succumbing to the quality pace bowling.
To sum-up this up, the following bullets points defines the evolution of Indian pacers unequivocally.
- India won it’s first-ever Test series in Australia in 2018-19 with Indian pacers claiming 50 wickets in four-Test series.
- Jasprit Bumrah has claimed a whopping 62 wickets in his first 12 Test matches.
- In recently concluded Test series between India-South Africa in India, Indian pacers almost took half of the wickets and played a key role in a series swipe. In past, this ratio of wickets used to be 10:90 between pacers and spinners in the Test matches played in India.
- In 2018 and 2019, on combined bases, four mainstream Indian pacers (Bumrah, Ishant, Umesh and Shami) have claimed a staggering 251 wickets in 58 Test.
- Jasprit Bumrah has become first Asian bowler to grab a five-wicket haul in South Africa, England, Australia and West Indies, that too in his first tour to all these countries. So Bumrah has achieved something, which even Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis could not achieve.
Now comes to Virat Kohli.
He is the only player on the planet with 50 plus average in all three formats of the game. In this decade, Kohli has scored 27 centuries in 84 Test Matches (Kohli made his Test debut in this decade only). The average is 3.1 Test per century, and compare this with a Tendulkar’s career average of 3.9 Test per centuries. In ODI, Kohli has already been regarded perhaps as the greatest ever ODI batsman.
He has scored a whopping 43 centuries in ODIs (42 in this decade) and just marginally short of Tendulkar’s record of 40 tons. Kohli made a thumping statement in ODI with his knock of 133 off just 86 balls against Sri Lanka early in the decade during Feb 2012 in Australia. India chased down 320 runs in just 37th Overs. For the remaining 8 years of decades, Kohli proved that the knock is played in Feb 2012 was no flash in the pan and he maintained the momentum for the whole decade. His ODI average is close to 60, which is just unbelievable
The greatness of Kohli lies in the fact that, contrary to the normal belief and trend, Kohli has been simply phenomenal as a batsman during his captaincy. His average in Test matches after he took over captaincy is 63, a feat which is colossal in size. Kohli is still 31 years and for sure he is set to perform during the majority of the period during the next decade.
As the decade is getting over the Indian Cricket team must have set its goal for the next decade. Few individual feats are certainly lined up. Bumrah may become the fastest (least number of Test) Indian pacer to claim 100 Test wickets. Kohli must be having his eyes on 100 International centuries (Tendulkar is the only batsman to do so).
Let’s wait and watch. But for sure, Indian Cricket’s dominance will continue in the next decade with Kohli at the helm, Kohli the batsman in the middle order and with the current generation of Indian pacers.
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