Reliving Virat Kohli- The Captain

Do you support Virat Kohli's Captaincy?

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I can appreciate your thoughts here. I posted earlier that perhaps MSD still is India’s best captain ever. Thanks for the explanation.
Perhaps in the early 2010's, yes! He started losing his touch thereafter and wasn't capable of building a team for the future. With MSD, a same crop of players would play, whereas a majority of budding stars were left in the lurch.
Similarly I can sense Rohit being the better option as a captain for India in blues. Again he is not MSD but he is quite there*. Like almost.
Agree! Over the last few years, it seems that Rohit has led India in more T20 than Virat. Plus, his style of captaincy would free up Virat. Personally, I feel Virat needs to let go of the reigns if he is unable to bring home the WT20 this time round.
I think few members aren't pleased with the things I have put up in this thread. I've clearly mentioned in the first post that these are my views and I am open to accepting other's thought out opinions. Also I don't think I have ever promoted any hate against Virat Kohli in any of my posts. There is not one post where I have been open about my hate regarding Kohli(just to state the fact that I don't hate him either). Also you can clearly see most of the things I have written are just mere facts.

I would actually welcome any counter arguments if there are any but those doesn't include illogical trolls or getting personal with someone's likes/dislikes about a particular player.
I have engaged some short arguments with other members of this thread, including Nilay. It is a very well designed thread with some very good, useful information.

We need to appreciate the great work and research done in this thread by @NilayShah60 and its unfortunate that some are accusing him of ‘hating Virat’. Thats not cool man and need to stop making @NilayShah60 upset about being ill equipped and unable to debate with other members who may seem ‘trolling’ because they share an opposite thinking to him.

So back on the subject at hand. Any overseas captaining a side in England for 5 test matches is a difficult task and this series could be the one that cements Virat’s legacy as the greatest Test captain India has produced.

Chapter 24: First ever series win in South Africa


The 3-match Test Series in South Africa were going to be a followed by a 6-match ODI series and a 3-match T20I series. Kohli and his men were hungry for a victory after being humiliated in the Test Series and making a dream comeback in Johannesburg. AB de Villiers was injured before the series and was ruled out for the first 3 matches. So this was a good chance for the Indians to conquer South Africa.

The first match of the series was going to be played at Kingsmead in Durban. India had a poor record playing in Durban against South Africa losing 6 out of 7 games and one match being abandoned. South Africa won the toss on a dry pitch and elected to bat first. They were off to a good start scoring 30 runs off 7 overs but just when they were looking to accelerate Jasprit Bumrah dismissed Hashim Amla for just 16. De Kock and du Plessis brought South Africa into a decent position as they were 83/1. Kohli decided to bring in the spinners into the attack and it paid off as Chahal got De Kock ofr 34. Couple of overs later Chahal got Markram out for 9. Kuldeep Yadav got out JP Duminy from the other end for 12 and David Miller for 7. Suddenly, South Africa were reduced to a 134/5. South Africa needed a partnership now. du Plessis and Morris did just that as Morris made 37. The South African skipper du Plessis went beserk in the last 10 overs as he went on to score 120 taking South Africa to 269/8 in their 50 overs. Probably 30-40 more runs than what it looked like at one stage. This could've well been the difference. However, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were off to a flyer as India scored 30 in just 5 overs. Rohit went for a shot one too many as he got out for 20 trying to hit Morkel over mid-off. Dhawan also ran himself out for 35 on Kohli's call. At 67/2, it seemed like the Indians were panicking and South Africa seemed like a couple of wickets away from putting enormous pressure on India. Rahane joined hands with Kohli. Both rotated the strike sensibly until few overs. As India took a commanding position both Rahane and Kohli started to hit boundaries all around the park and South Africa lost their morale. Rahane was dismissed for 79 but Kohli went on to score 112. India chased down 270 in just 45.3 overs winning the match by 6 wickets.

The second match was going to be played at Centurion. South Africa lost their skipper Faf du Plessis just a couple of days before the match. Markram was given the Captaincy which was actually pretty hard on the youngster. Markarm had hardly established himself in the ODI team and to give him the Captaincy could've proved to be disastrous. India won the toss and elected to field first. The pitch seemed similar to the one at Durban so probably this was a good call. South Africa was off to an extremely slow start. Just went they tried to enforce the scoring they lost Amla on 20 caught behind by Dhoni off Bhuvi's bowling. Kohli brought Chahal in the 13th over. Chahal got De Kock and Kuldeep got stand-in skipper Markram from the other end. The other Proteas batsmen looked clueless to the turning ball as they collapsed from 51/1 to 99/5 and eventually were bowled out for a miserable 118. This still happens to be South Africa's lowest score in their ODI history. Chahal's 5/22 and Kuldeep's 3/20 took South Africa apart. India comfortably won that match by 9 wickets.

Another injury to the South African camp as De Kock was now ruled out for the rest of the series along with Faf du Plessis. South Africa were almost an inexperienced team now. The 3rd ODI was to be played at Cape Town which is South Africa's fortress in this format as they had won 28 of the 33 matches played here losing just 5 matches. South Africa won the toss and elected to field first on a slightly quicker surface than the last 2 matches. India lost Rohit without a run on the board. At 4/1, Kohli was given out by the umpire and it seemed India were in a spot of bother for the first time in the series. Kohli reviewed the decision and a big inside edge was found on the ultra-edge technology. Dhawan and Kohli put on 140 runs for the 2nd wicket. Dhawan scored 79 runs. However, India just lost their way as they were now 236/6 in 43 overs. Kohli scored his 33rd ODI hundred. He and Bhuvneshwar Kumar put on an unbeaten partnership of 67 run for the 7th wicket and Kohli was unbeaten on 160. This was the highest ever score in an ODI match by an Asian batsman in South Africa. South Africa lost Amla in the 2nd over. Markarm and Duminy put on 78 for the 2nd wicket but it was once again those 2 leg-spinners who made life incredibly difficult for the Proteas. David Miller and Khaya Zondo joined each other at 95/4. They added just 34 runs in 64 balls for the 5th wicket. As the required rate kept on increasing South Africa had to go for big shots which resulted in lost of wickets all around. South Africa were bowled out for 179 losing the match by 124 runs. India were just a win away from winning their first ever series in South Africa.

The 4th ODI was going to be played at the Wanderer’s in Johannesburg. AB de Villiers joined the South African team returning from an injury. India won the toss and elected to bat first on a flat pitch with decent bounce and good carry. Shikhar Dhawan was playing his 100th match. Rohit Sharma was once again dismissed early and he seemed to carry his poor form from the Test series. Dhawan and Kohli once again put on a big partnership in the series. They put on 178. Kohli unfortunately missed his 34th ODI century by just 25 runs!! Dhawan went on to score 109 becoming the first batsman to score a 100 in his 100th match for India. India failed to accelerate in the end overs as they managed just 289/7 in their 50 overs. South Africa were off to an aggressive start chasing 290 scoring 43/0 in just 7 overs. A rain interruption meant that South Africa had to chase 202 in just 28 overs. They were soon 77/3 and needed someone to step up. AB de Villiers took on Kuldeep Yadav hitting him for a couple of boundaries and a massive six. This really shook up India. Bowling with the wet ball the 2 leg-spinners were suddenly under pressure. South Africa carried this momentum forward and eventually won the match by 5 wickets. Klassen scored 43 while Miller scored 39. Phelulkwayo also scored 23 off just 8 balls!!!!

The 5th ODI was played at Port Elizabeth. India had never won a match at Port Elizabeth against South Africa. South Africa won the toss and elected to field first. India were off to a quick start. They scored 44/0 in just 7 overs. Dhawan got out to a bouncer trying to pull a short ball over the fence off Rabada scoring 34 off just 23 balls. Rohit Sharma was playing well this time around as he hit a six off the first ball of a new spell from Tabraiz Shamsi. Rohit Sharma and Kohli put on 105 for the 2nd wicket before Kohli unfortunately got run out for 36. Later, Rahane also got run out for 8. Rohit Sharma scored his 17th ODI century. He got dismissed for 115. India failed to accelerate in the end overs for the 2nd consecutive match as they finished on 274/7 in their 50 overs. Lungi Ngidi had figures of 4/51 in his 9 overs. South Africa just like the last match began positively. Markram scored a run a ball 32. Hardik Pandya got wickets in consecutive overs dismissing Duminy and the dangerous de Villiers. South Africa were now 65/3. David Miller and Amla put on 62 for the 4th wicket and it looked South Africa would win this one. But after Miller got out Amla was dismisssed soon after. South Africa collapsed from 162/4 to 201 all out. India won their first ever series in South Africa under Kohli. A big credit should go to the spinners for the way they bowled. Hardik Pandya was equally effective with the ball in middle overs while Bumrah and Bhuvi were effective with the new ball. So this was more about the way Indian bowlers had performed.

The 6th ODI at Centurion was more of a formality now. India won the toss and elected to bowl first. South Africa followed the same negative approach as they got bowled out for a mere 204. Khaya Zondo top scored with 54. Chahal took 1/38 in his 10 overs being extremely economical with the ball. India cruised along chasing 205 as Kohli scored another century. His 3rd for the series and his 35th overall. He finised with a tally of 558 runs in the series averaging 139.50.

It was time to switch over the format. Suresh Raina joined the Indian squad. The first T20 was played at Johannesburg. India were put into bat by South Africa. Rohit Sharma completely unleashed himself scoring 21 off just 9 but was dismissed by Junior Dala caught behind. Raina also scored 15 off 7 dismissed by Dala. Kohli scored 26 of 20. Dhawan went on to score 72 off 39!!!!! India just like the ODI series failed to achieve a strong finish which was becoming a bit of an issue now. They scored 203/5 in their 20 overs. South Africa failed to keep up with the rate all throughout as they lost by 28 runs scoring just 175 in their 20 overs.

In the 2nd T20I at Centurion, South Africa once again won the toss and elected to bowl first. Rohit got out for a duck. Raina and Dhawan took on the attack to the bowlers before Dhawan got out on a low full toss off Duminy for 24 off 14. Raina scored 31 off 24 and Kohli was dismissed for just 1. At 79/4 in walked Manish Pandey who joined hands with Dhoni as both of them scored their respective half centuries. Pandey scored 79 while Dhoni scored 52. India scored 188/4 in their 20 overs. South Africa were off to a slow start as they scored 38/2 in 5 overs. Klassen and Duminy got together and once they got their eyes in they went beserk. This is where Kohli as Captain looked absolutely helpless. He just wasn’t able to break that partnership by making the right bowling changes and having the fielders on the right place. Duminy and Klassen scored 63 and 69 respectively as South Africa won by 6 wickets in just 18.4 overs. Kohli was injured as he missed out the 3rd T20I and Rohit took over him. India won the third T20I by 7 runs winning the series 2-1. India did win the limited overs leg but South Africa not playing their full strength lineup along with an inexperienced Captain masked many issues that would’ve been existing in the Indian team as a whole. But nevertheless this was their best ever performance in South Africa in their history. So this was nothing short of an achievement.​
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OMG!!!!! :facepalm

Typed around 100 sentences of the post only for it to disappear. :(

Wasted around 4 hours for it for atleast 2 days!!! :mad

Chapter 25: First Assignment of England

Part 1- Limited Overs


Winning in England is always special for any side touring there, so as it was for the Indian team back in 2018. England is the country where the Test matches had birthed plus it offers one of the most difficult conditions in the world. So it is always a big achievement for any side in the world. Kohli and his men were probably looking to do the same.

But this series set brought with it a new set of challenges for the Indian side. The Asian teams are usually vulnerable to the swinging pitches because of their conditions being spin dominated and batting friendly on the other hand things were quite difficult in England and only those sides succeed over here who have strong bowling attacks. Although India too had a pace attack with them this time capable of taking 20 wickets in a Test match unlike the past years. There was an ever bigger challenge lying ahead of the Indian skipper
who had a horrendous tour in this country 4 years ago as he averaged just about 13.9 scoring 139 runs in 10 innings in a 5-match series.

So, India had to win this series to prove 2 things. The first was that they were now capable of performing Overseas and winning a Test Series against a quality opposition in alien conditions, while the second was proving their dominance in World Cricket.

The tour began with a 3-match T20I series. The 1st of the 3 matches was going to be played at The Old Trafford in Manchester. The challenge of playing in Manchester for the sub continent teams is to adjust with the bounce of the Old Trafford pitch. India won the toss and elected to field first. England had a really strong batting line-up in limited overs Cricket and they knew to dominate the bowling line-ups of any team in the world. And they did just that by scoring 53/1 in the first 6 overs of the innings. But, India ensured that they were up for facing this challenge as they brought Kuldeep Yadav in the 10th over of the innings. Both leg-spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were instrumental in helping India win this first ever ODI series in South Africa just months before this series. Although this pitch did not have a huge turn on it but the occassional balls just stopped onto the batsman. Kuldeep first got Alex Hales bowled down the leg-side for 8(18), on his 1st ball of his 3rd over he got English skipper Eoin Morgan caught at deep mid-wicket for 7(6) and later on the 3rd and the 5th delivery he got Bairstow and Root out stumped on identical scores of 0(1). He got Jordan out c&b for a golden duck. Jos Buttler looked the only player causing troubles to the Indians as he scored 69(46) opening the batting. England finished with a score of 159/8 in their 20 overs. Kuldeep finished with figures of 5/24 becoming the first spinner to take 5 wickets in a T20I game in England. India lost Dhawan early in their chase of 160. KL Rahul was promoted up the order looking at the form he was in during the IPL. He made full use of this opportunity as he scored runs all around the park. He went on to score 101*(54). Kohli smashed a six as India won by 8 wickets in just 18.2 overs. Rohit also supported Rahul as he scored 32(30) in a partnership of 123 runs for the 2nd wicket. Rahul's innings was a statement in itself that India were up for something big on this tour.

Kuldeep Yadav said:
In the first over I checked the wicket. It was a bit dry. There was a possibility of a little turn, but it didn't turn to begin with. Chahal told me it was not turning. It was stopping. Accordingly, I varied the pace a little. The batsman would need to use his feet​
Eoin Morgan said:
Taking three wickets in an over really set us back. Probably cost us 30-40 runs.​
KL Rahul said:
I have a few international hundreds, but this means the world to me. This is very special because the last international hundred I got was about two years ago. I've been getting fifties in the IPL and Test matches, been in and out of the one-day team. It's been a rough road in the last one, one-and-a-half years with injuries, going out. I haven't chased anything this much, with so much heart and passion, so this innings means the world to me. Being out of form is getting out in single-digits, but that wasn't happening. I was getting starts, I was batting well. Obviously a couple of injuries, going in and out of the team . . . not finding a spot after some time has always been tough. So to get that opportunity and deliver, to get that three-figure mark - I've always said that I've not been somebody who has chased numbers, but when I wasn't getting the three-figure mark, that's when I really realised how important three figures was.​

The 2nd T20I was played at Cardiff on a seaming track. England won the toss and put India in to bat first. India got off to a worst possible start as they were 22/3 in 4.5 over losing Rohit, Dhawan and Rahul. Although, Raina and Kohli did help India recover from it as they put on 57 runs for the 4th wicket before Raina got out stumped off Adil Rashid on 27(20). Kohli went on to score 47(38). Dhoni really struggled to put the foot on the accelerator in the end overs as he just managed 32(24). India ended up on a subpar 148/5 in their 20 overs. England were just pacing their chase to perfection as India found it hard to defend their total. India did manage to get wickets here and there but the score was little too less. India were to defend 12 runs off the last over as Kohli gave the over to Bhuvneshwar Kumar who had figures of 1/7 in his 3 overs. Alex Hales held his calm and won it for England with 2 balls to spare as they won by 5 wickets. India probably lost this match in the way they batted and their batting clearly lacked intent when we compare it to their performance at Old Trafford.

The decider of this series was played at Bristol. The Indians were dealt with a huge blow before the match as they lost Bhuvneshwar Kumar to a back injury. India also made an interesting decision as they left out Kuldeep Yadav. India won the toss and elected to field first on a surface that looked grassy from the outset but had enough dryness and was a hard surface to support the batsman all throughout the match. Siddarth Kaul and Deepak Chahar made their T20I debut for India. England scored 94 runs for the 1st wicket stand. Kaul dismissed Buttler for 34(21) while Roy got out to Chahar on 67(31). The openers had set the tone for a huge score for England already. However, Hardik Pandya took 4/38 in his 4 overs and brought India back into the game. England scored 198/9 in their 20 overs. India got off to a great start scoring 70/2 in their first 6 overs of the innings. Rohit Sharma who had not made much of an impact in the series had come out all guns blazing hitting boundaries and sixes at will all around the park. Kohli got out to Jordan scoring 43(29). India just need 49 in 36 balls now. Rohit went on to score his 3rd century in T20I Cricket(2nd batsman to do so in T20Is) in just 56 balls. Hardik Pandya hit a massive six towards the sight screen as India chased down 199 in just 18.4 overs winning the match by 6 wickets. It was clear from this match that India were going to be really a tough team for England to beat as we go through the series.

The T20I series was followed by a 3-match ODI series. England was probably one of the top-notch ODI sides in the world so beating them at home was going to be a daunting task. However, India had not lost an ODI series to England after 2011. The first of the 3 ODIs was played at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. India won the toss and made a bold call of wanting to field first especially considering the fact that England had scored 444/3 and 481/6 in their last 2 matches batting first at the Trent Bridge with the latter coming just a month ago against Australia. But the decision to field first suited the team balance of the Indian team. England scored 71/0 in Powerplay 1. Kuldeep Yadav was introduced into the attack in the 11th over. He dismissed Roy caught at point on 38(35) trying to hit a reverse sweep. He also dismissed Root and Bairstow out lbw on 3 & 38 respectively. Morgan got out to Chahal scoring 19(20). England were suddenly 105/4. Kuldeep and Chahal literally spun a web around the English batting line-up. England found it better to play out the remaining overs as they scored just 268 all out in their 50 overs. Kuldeep Yadav took 6/25 in his 10 overs achieving the best bowling figures by an Asian bowler in England. India had no troubles into their chase as they won by 8 wickets in just 40.1 overs!!! Courtesy a brilliant 137* by Rohit Sharma who carried his form from the T20I series into this match. Kohli also scored 75(82) while Dhawan scored 40(27). Kuldeep Yadav proved to be the difference between these sides. The criticism was more towards the English side since they had faltered miserably to spin bowling not reading the ball out of the bowlers wrist. It seemed as if India was going to use this as an advantage against the English team in this series.

From Trent Bridge we now move to Lord’s-The Home of Cricket. England won the toss and elected to bat first on a flat batting pitch. Just like Trent Bridge, England made the full use of the 1st Powerplay scoring 69/0. India once again repeated their tactics of killing the game in the middle overs introducing 2 of their leg-spinners. England once again lost both their openers to Kuldeep Yadav’s left-arm wrist spin as they were now 86/2. England knew that if they had to score big runs they will have to try something different against the Indian spinners. Initially Root and Morgan were watchful and as they got their eye in they started to find gaps on regular basis and made sure that they atleast got 5-6 runs every over. They were successful with their approach as Root and Morgan put on 103 runs for the 3rd wicket stand. Root went on to score 113* while David Willey contributed with a 31-ball 50 batting at 7. England scored 322/7 in their 50 overs. India got off to a slow start losing both their openers in the first 10 overs as they were now 57/2. KL Rahul also got out for a duck. The experienced pair of Raina and Kohli put together 80 runs for the 4th wicket before Kohli got out lbw to Moeen Ali scoring 45(56). Raina also got out bowled to Adil Rashid as he scored 46. At 154/5, Hardik Pandya joined Dhoni at the crease. Neither of them were able to help the scoring rate as India scored 236 all out in their 50 overs. England won the match by 86 runs and proved why they are one of the strongest team in the world. Good teams know how to bounce back when the odds are stacked against them and this is what England did.

The decider match was played at Headingley. England won the toss and elected to field first under the Overcast skies. India struggled to get runs in the early overs and lost Rohit Sharma on 2(18). Kohli and Dhawan started to build on a platform to help the Indian middle order explode in the end overs. Just when things started to get better for India, they lost Dhawan run out for 44. Dinesh Karthik joined Kohli at the crease at 84/2. They both put on 41 for the 3rd wicket before Karthik got out bowled for 21 to Adil Rashid. Rashid later got Kohli out bowled for 71 off a delivery the pitched on middle and leg and hit the top of off-stump. A dream delivery to get rid of one of the best in the world. India collapsed from 125/2 to 158/5. They failed to recover from this as they managed only 256/8 in their 50 overs. Courtsey Shardul Thakur’s cameo in the end overs. Although, there was still a little help for the spinners which would’ve kept the Indian spinners interested and gave India a chance to be able to defend their score. England got off to a flier as Bairstow scored 30 off just 13 balls. It seemed that India’s decision to rush Bhuvneshwar Kumar back into the side was a blunder as he struggled for rhythm and got taken for easy runs. England just like Lord’s played Kuldeep and Chahal sensibly as they looked helpless and failed to get any wickets. Joe Root hit the winning boundary when batting on 96* as he hit his 2nd consecutive 100 in the series. Morgan also scored 88* as England won by 8 wickets with 5.3 overs to spare. They also won the series 2-1 and certainly left India with a lot of questions to answer.

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Chapter 25: First Assignment of England

Part 2: Test Series


India were greeted with a new set of problems ahead of the Test Series as Bhuvneshwar Kumar aggravated his back injury by playing in the Final ODI. Jasprit Bumrah hadn’t recovered from the finger injury that he sustained in Ireland. India’s Test wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha who was injured during IPL 2018 had not recovered on time so Dinesh Karthik was supposed to be the wicket-keeper for India. So a lot of problems already. Although they also had something good coming their way since the weather in UK was unusually hot that year. So it meant Indian spinners could’ve come into play.

The first of the 5-match series was to be played at Edgbaston in Birmingham. India made a really interesting call to drop Pujara ahead of the 1st Test for in-form KL Rahul since the Indian team management felt that Pujara lacked intent to score runs in England which could’ve proved to be detrimental towards scoring big runs. England won the toss and elected to bat first. England lost Cook early bowled to Ashwin. They had scored 83/1 at Lunch on Day 1. Shami got Keaton Jennings bowled for 42 and Malan lbw for 8 just few overs into the post Lunch session. Root and Bairstow put on a good partnership of 114 runs for the 4th wicket before Root got run out on 80 to a direct hit from Kohli from the boundary. This lead to a collapse as England finished Day 1 on 285/9. They eventually got bowled out on 287. Ashwin made full use of the slowness of the pitch as he finished with figures of 4/62. Shami also got 3/64. India began their innings positively scoring 50 runs on the board in just 11 overs. England brought Sam Curran into the attack and it worked in England’s favour as India were reduced to 59/3!!! Not having Pujara at 3 proved to be costly for India. India were soon reeling at 100/5. Although Kohli put in the hard yards as he stayed on the crease as long as possible. He batted with some good discipline being aware about his off-stump as he played the ball late with soft hands. A perfect example of how to bat in England!! Kohli had put behind his horrors of 2014 tour as he looked to be India’s best batsman that day. He went on to score 149 runs and was involved in a 57-run partnership for the 10th wicket with Umesh Yadav. India failed to take a lead as they were bowled out on 274, but it was an incredible fightback from them from the position they were in. Ashwin bowled an identical delivery to Cook that got him out in the 1st innings. This time Cook scored 0(14). Indian bowlers were all over England as they were reduced to 89/7. Although they made a blunder by dropping Sam Curran and allowing him to settle in before he went for the big shots. He went on to score 63(65). India now needed to score 192 runs to win which at one stage looked like a 140-odd target. Nevertheless, India were off to a terrible start to their chase being reduced to 46/3. Kohli and Hardik Pandya put on 29 runs for the 6th wicket as India just needed 53 runs to win. Ben Stokes dismissed Kohli on 51 as he finished with a tally of 200 runs for the match. India lost the match by 31 runs and probably lacked a batsman who could hold one end. They did have one in Pujara who was dropped for this Test.

The 2nd match was played at The Home of Cricket-Lord’s. The Day 1 of the match was washed out. India decided to play both Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav despite of the Overcast skies and dampness in the surface. Another poor call in back to back matches. England won the toss and chose to field first. Day 1 was washed out due to rain. On Day 2, India got off to a worst possible start being reduced to 15/3. Rain stopped play for about 4 hours. India continued to crumble under windy conditions where the ball was swinging about 5 inches. Facing a bowler of Jimmy Anderson’s quality was always going to be really tough. India got bowled out on a poor score of 107!!! Anderson took 5/20 and was supported by Chris Woakes who took 2/19. Indian bowlers struggled to get their lines right as England scored close to 5 runs an over on Day 3. India did get early wickets and England went to Lunch on Day 3 scoring 89/4. Mohammed Shami dismissed Buttler for 24(22) as England were now 131/5. India could’ve tried to cut down the lead but instead they kept bowling their spinners as Woakes eventually made it to his maiden Test century while Bairstow scored 93 put on a partnership of 189. Sam Curran played another cameo of 40(49). England declared their innings on 396/7. With the conditions on offer and a trail of 289 runs meant India hardly had a chance of winning the match on Day 4! Pujara showed why he was important to the Indian side as he played about 87 balls in the 2nd innings showed what kind of difference he could’ve made to India’s batting in the last match. India eventually got bowled out for 130 losing the match by an innings and 159 runs. India did not even bat the number of overs in both innings combined that England did in their 1st innings. Kohli’s leadership was under a massive question now since he along with Ravi Shastri had called this Indian side as the best in the world when they lost the series in South Africa and guaranteed an improved performance on India’s part. So all the talk now seemed to have gone in vain as India had faced the reality of the English conditions. The terrible team selection further added to the misery.

If trailing the 5-match series by 2-0 wasn’t enough then the miseries were further aggravated with questions looming over Kohli’s presence in the 3rd Test since he was having a stiff back. Indian team management made sure that Kohli was fit before the 3rd Test.

The 3rd Test was going to be played at Trent Bridge. England won the toss and elected to bowl first on a bright sunny day. Probably not the best of decisions but was more influenced with how India had played in the series thus far. India though batted with a positive mindset this time as they put on 60 for the first wicket. England bounced back and reduced India to 82/3 at Lunch on Day 1. Rahane joined Kohli at the crease after Lunch. Both batted sensibly and started to build on a very good partnership. They did not lose any wicket in the 2nd session of Day 1 scoring more than a 100. Rahane got out on 81. Kohli got out caught in the slips on 97 off Rashid’s bowling missing the 3 figure mark by just 3 runs. Rishabh Pant on debut struck a six on the first ball he faced in Test Cricket. India ended the Day 1 on 307/6. They got bowled out on 329 courtesy 3/72 from Stuart Broad. Indian bowlers struggled to bowl at the right spot as they conceded 48 runs in 10 overs before Lunch on Day 2. Ishant and Bumrah dismissed the England openers. This was followed by a sensational spell from Hardik Pandya who got 5/28. England were bowled out for 161 giving India a lead of 168 runs. India started off in a blazing fashion as they scored 124/2 by the end of Day 2. Kohli and Pujara added 70 runs in the 1st session of Day 3 with Pujara scoring his 2nd half century in England. Virat Kohli went on to score 103 equalling his tally for the first match scoring 200 runs in a match for the 2nd time in the series. Pujara also scored 72. Hardik Pandya’s cameo further helped India’s cause as they declared their innings on 352/7 giving England a target of 521 runs. Ashwin had injured himself in the 1st innings by straining his back, but he still managed to bowl 22.5 overs finishing with figures of 1/44. Jasprit Bumrah on his return took 5/85 in the 2nd innings. Buttler and Stokes put on a 169 run partnership for the 4th wicket which was a highlight of the innings. Buttler went on to score his maiden Test hundred. England were bowled out on 317 losing the match by 203 runs. India had given a strong reply to the world that they still can win matches abroad. But the series was still yet for the taking.

The 4th Test was played at Southampton. England won the toss and elected to bat first. India in their must-win game decided to continue with a not so fully fit Ashwin since he was their best Test bowler over the years. And leaving out him would’ve meant risking the series. Indian bowlers especially Jasprit Bumrah was all over the English line-up as England were struggling at 86/6. In walked Sam Curran who joined Moeen Ali who was coming back to England’s Test team after a while. Both batted with a calm approach and looked to build on partnership and stay in the middle as long as it was possible rather than going after the bowling. Moeen Ali was dismissed by Ashwin on 40 as he attempted a slog sweep mistiming it and ended up hitting into the hands of Bumrah. Curran continued on his way to the rescue mission as he started playing his shots taking on the attack to the bowlers. He took England from 167/7 to 246 all out by scoring 78. Both Dhawan and Rahul got starts but failed to convert their scores. The Indian skipper joined Pujara at 50/2. Kohli however got out to Curran on 46. India collapsed from 142/2 to 195/8. It was Pujara who had held his end all this while as he lofted a full length ball from Moeen Ali to get a couple and score his 1st ever century in England. Batting with Bumrah he added 46 for the 10th wicket before Bumrah got himself out to Broad on 6. Pujara scored a magnificent 132* giving India a lead of 27 runs. England ended Day 2 on 6/0. India started Day 3 positively as they had England on 92/4 at one stage with a lead of just 65 runs. India found it hard to get Stokes out neither they managed to make use of the footholes on the pitch to get the ball to turn. The decision to play Ashwin had comeback to haunt India as England set India a target on 245 on a worn out pitch. Sam Curran once again scored 46 while Buttler scored 69. On a pitch that Moeen Ali had got a 5-wicket haul, Ashwin just managed to pick one wicket in his 37 overs. England made use of the unpredictable bounce in the surface as India were reduced to 22/3!!! The experience of Kohli-Rahane pair helped India to recover. India required just 122 now. Moeen Ali came in and bowled on the foothole as the unpredictability came into play. Kohli was caught at forward short leg by Cook. This opened up one end which England made full use of. They bowled India out for 184 winning the match by 60 runs. Yet another series was lost as Kohli and his men failed to bring improvement to India’s performance. Moeen Ali ended up getting 9 wickets for the match which was the difference between the sides. In the hindsight, India could well have played Jadeja who would’ve been an incredibly tough bowler to face on a worn out pitch rather than unfit Ashwin who failed to pitch the ball at the right spot.

Following an average form for an extended period of time Alastair Cook had made it public on the 3rd Day of the 4th Test that he had decided to retire after the India series. So this was a special match for England to repay the tribute to their best ever player with a winning performance in his last match. England won the toss on a flat pitch and elected to bat first. India were forced to bring in Jadeja for Ashwin while they dropped Hardik Pandya for an extra batsman. Hence, Vihari made his Test debut. England put on 60 for the 1st wicket and 73 for the 2nd. Cook scored 71 as he was bowled by Bumrah. Moeen Ali scored 50 batting at 3. England collapsed from 133/1 to 187/7 as they got out Curran early this time. But again it proved to be not much of use as Buttler scored 89 and took England to a good score of 332. Jadeja got 4/79 and proved his worth. With a loss of regular wickets, India were reduced to 160/6. It was once again Jadeja but this time with the bat who tried his best to bring India to a competitive position into this match. Vihari on debut scored 56(124) while Jadeja played possibly the innings of his career scoring 86*(156) showing great resistance in difficult batting conditions. India got bowled out on 292 runs. England ended Day 3 on 114/2. They were leading India by 154 runs and a good session of bowling would’ve possibly brought the match back in India’s grasp. Unfortunately, Ishant Sharma injured himself as India were left with just 3 bowlers and a part-timer Vihari on Day 4. Cook in his final Test innings scored 147 while English Captain Joe Root scored 125. England declared their innings on 423/8 giving India a target of 464 to win. Anderson got 2 early wickets in Dhawan and Pujara while Broad dismissed Kohli on a golden duck(the first time in the series he scored less than 10). Kohli finished an incredible tour scoring 597 runs averaging 59.70. India ended Day 4 at 58/3. An England victory seemed unavoidable at this stage unless India put on a dream fightback. Rahane got out on 37 while Vihari scored a duck as it seemed India would falter in an hour’s time at 121/5. Although KL Rahul and Pant defied all odds playing their natural game as they took on the bowlers. India were 298/5 at Tea needing 166 to win off 41 overs. KL Rahul got dismissed on a ball that pitched way outside leg-stump on the foothole and turned viciously as he got out bowled to Rashid on 149. Pant got dismissed on 114. England wrapped up the tail quickly and won the match by 118 runs.

Virat Kohli said:
Definitely think we will sit down and think about, if we had taken those opportunities, we missed quite few. When both teams are going for wins, you can have a result that looks like that [4-1], they don't go for draws. They played fearless, you hardly have draws in these tense series and that's what the scoreline shows. I'm not saying it wasn't a fair scoreline, because they played better than us, but we can take a lot of heart and apply lessons to how we play Test cricket.

The Captaincy flaws:-

  1. Not able to break partnerships in ODIs.
  2. Over reliance on 2 leg-spinners.
  3. Forcing Bhuvneshwar Kumar to play in the 3rd ODI despite injury.
  4. Dropping India’s best number 3 in the 1st Test and replacing him with an opener in KL Rahul who looked in good form in the limited overs leg.
  5. Playing 2 spinners on a damp pitch in Overcast conditions and bowling them for 40 overs when England had no overs of spin.
  6. Expecting Hardik to perform the batsman’s role and trying to play him as the 3rd seamer in the First 2 Tests.
  7. Playing Ashwin inspite of injury and not backing Jadeja when required.
  8. Sam Curran’s continued dominance throughout the series when the top order had collapsed. No additional plans to get him out.


  1. Continued backing of Fast bowlers after success on South Africa tour.
  2. Promoting the fitness culture. (Ironically played injured players)
  3. Expecting a fightback from the players in turn motivating them to perform better.

Hardik's incredible spell in the 3rd Test followed by India's batting on Day 2.
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Chapter 26- India’s campaign to Asia Cup 2018 Title


I know this is slightly unrelated but I just wanted to talk about how India could perform under a different Captain and hence I feel like including this article.

So we all know that India was lead by by Rohit Sharma in the 2018 Asia Cup just to give Kohli some time off the game just to manage his workload before the upcoming 2019 World Cup. So this was a good chance for India to Test their bench and see how the team performs under a different leader. India’s squad still looked strong as they had the experience of MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Kedar Jadhav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in their team. Following the performance in the last Test of the series against England and a few good performances in the domestic Circuit, Ravindra Jadeja made a comeback into the Indian limited overs squad which also added to India’s experience. This was also a good opportunity for the youngsters like Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and the 2 leg spinners to gain confidence with some steller performances just few month before the World Cup. All in all this Indian side looked like a formidable unit and a team tough to beat and definitely looked one of the contenders to win this tournament. Along with this, they were the defending Champions so they were expected to atleast make it to the Finals.

India’s first game was against Hong Kong before they reached the Super 4’s stage of the tournament. Hong Kong’s skipper Anshuman Rath won the toss and put India in to bat first. India handed the debut to an exciting prospect from Tonk district in Rajasthan, Khaleel Ahmed. Khaleel is a left-arm pacer who can consistently bowl over 135kph and can swing the ball both ways. So this was something similar to what the former Indian pacer Zaheer Khan had in him. India got off to a quick start by scoring close to 6 an over on a slow pitch. Indian skipper went for a shot one too many as he mis-timed a pull and got out for just 23. After Sharma’s dismissal, Ambati Rayudu joined Shikhar Dhawan at the crease. Rayudu had shown some incredible form during the 2018 IPL scoring over 600 runs for the season and he looked to continue this and establish himself as the no.4 which India were looking for a long time. Although, due to Kohli’s absence he was asked to bat at no.3. Dhawan and Rayudu played positively and scored at a healthy rate for India. Rayudu got out on 60 while Dhawan went on to score 125. India lost Dhawan on the 4th ball of the 41st over scoring 240/4 till that point. They faced it difficult to play their shots due to the slowness of the pitch in the last 10 overs of the innings losing 5 wickets for just 48 runs. The score did look good to defend but Hong Kong would’ve gained a lot of confidence through their bowling in the death overs and they looked like fancying their chance to beat a strong team like India. Hong Kong scored 56/0 in their first 10 overs going neck and neck with India’s first innings score. Infact, skipper Anshuman Rath and opener Nizakat Khan put on the best ever opening partnership for Hong Kong in ODI Cricket. Kuldeep Yadav got India their first breakthrough in the 35th over of the innings at the score of 174. It looked like Hong Kong was going to pull off something incredible but completely lost their plot after losing their 1st wicket eventually losing the match by 26 runs. Rohit Sharma continued backing his bowlers despite not being able to get wickets and this proved to be very effective when the match moved towards the last 10 overs as Hong Kong continued to lose wickets. Khaleel Ahmed finished with figures of 3/48 in his 10 overs on debut. Good Captains are the ones who are calm in situations when everything is going against their way and this is what Rohit did so well.

India did beat Hong Kong but with the kind of performance they had up against them it looked difficult for them to beat Pakistan the very next day. Pakistan and India last met in the Champions Trophy Final in 2017. A match where India ended up with the biggest ever defeat in terms of runs in an ICC ODI Final losing the match by 180 runs. So it was going to be tough for India to face Pakistan that too without Virat Kohli.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat first. Rohit Sharma trusted the bowling duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah to get India the early breakthroughs and he kept an attacking field for the Pakistani openers. Imam ul Haq charged down the wicket out of frustration of not getting to score as he was caught behind by Dhoni off Kumar. Couple of overs later Kumar got the dangerous Fakhar Zaman out for a duck. Pakistan were suddenly 3/2 and under enormous pressure. Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik put on 82 for the third wicket but Rohit’s calmer approach and his backing of bowlers was paying off beautifully as Kuldeep Yadav dismissed Babar out bowled for 47. Seeing the slowness of the surface Rohit brought Kedar Jadhav into the attack. As they all say- the man with the golden arm, Kedar got 3 wickets giving away just 23 runs in his 9 overs. Pakistan were struggling at 121/7!!! They made a decent recovery but Bumrah proved to be too good for the tail of Pakistan knocking their stumps over. Pakistan were bowled out on 162. The Indian openers got India off to a quick start with skipper Rohit Sharma tearing apart Pakistan’s best bowler Hasan Ali. He was equally good against left-arm pacer Usman Khan Shinwari. He also played Mohammad Amir patiently and tried to see him off rather than attacking him. It only took a magic delivery for leg-spinner Shadad Khan to break through Rohit’s defence who scored 52 off just 39 balls. He along with Dhawan added 86 runs for the 1st wicket stand in just 13 overs. Dhawan scored 46 off 54. Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik ensured that there was no loss of momentum as India won by 8 wickets in just 29 overs.

The first match of Super 4’s for India was against Bangladesh who had just lost a match to Afghanistan. India won the toss and elected to field first. India had to make a forced change considering Hardik Pandya was ruled out of the tournament to a back injury that he sustained in the game against Pakistan. Rohit trusted Jadeja and brought him into the playing 11. Bhuvi and Bumrah dismissed both the Bangladeshi openers while Jadeja got 3 quick wickets of that of Shakib, Mohammad Mithun and Mushfiqur Rahim. He also dismissed Mossadek Hossain finishing with figures of 4/29 in his 10 overs. Bangladesh were 101/7 at one stage but skipper Mashrafe Mortaza and all-rounder Mehidi Hasan Miraz scored some useful runs taking Bangladesh to 173. Rohit Sharma and Dhawan put on 61 runs for the first wicket before Dhawan got out lbw to Shakib. Rohit Sharma tried to hold his end considering the fact that scoring was difficult on that pitch. Rayudu, Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik scored 13, 33 and 1* respectively. Rohit Sharma scored 83* to take India through to a 7 wicket win.

India once again played Pakistan but this time in Super 4’s. Just like the earlier match, Pakistan elected to bat first after winning the toss. Pakistan got off to a slow start trying to save their wickets early in the innings. Sharma brought Chahal into the attack. Chahal straight away went for an lbw appeal turned down the by umpire. Rohit Sharma without giving a second thought reviewed the decision. Hawk-eye projected the ball hitting the middle stump as Imam walked back after scoring 10. Fakhar Zaman attacked the bowlers after he had got his eyes in. In one of those deliveres from Kuldeep that turned viciously Fakhar lost his balance to which umpire gave him out lbw. Being unaware about the ball hitting his gloves on the fall Fakhar did not review the decision. Shoaib Malik and Sarfaraz Ahmed added 107 for the 4th wicket. Sarfaraz scored 44 while Malik scored 78. Inspite of a cameo from Asif Ali Pakistan fell well short of a good score on a flat pitch. Chasing 238, the Indian openers played calmly and started to attack the Pakistani bowlers to all parts of the ground after seeing off the new ball. They put on 210 for the first wicket- their highest ever partnership against Pakistan in Asia Cup. Dhawan was unfortunately run-out for 114. Rohit Sharma scored 111*. India won by 9 wickets in just 39.3 overs. This win was a statement that India were clearly a better side by a fair margin in this tournament.

As India had already qualified for the Finals they decided to test their bench making 5 changes to their team in the game against Afghanistan. Rohit, Dhawan, Bhuvi, Bumrah and Chahal were out for Rahul, Manish Pandey, Khaleel, Deepak Chahar and Kaul. MS Dhoni was Captaining India for the 200th time in ODIs. Afghanistan scored 252/8 in their 50 overs greatly helped by Mohammad Shahzad’s 124. KL Rahul and Ambati Rayudu opened the innings for India. They added 110 runs for the first wicket. Rahul scored 60, Rayudu 57 while Dinesh Karthik scored 44. India lost their momentum in the chase needing 7 to win from 6 balls and 1 wicket in hand. Ravindra Jadeja took strike playing against Rashid Khan. Played the first ball as a dot and lofted the next one which at one stage looked like a six as the Indians started celebrating. Replays showed that it was a 4. Jadeja surprisingly took a run off the 3rd ball off the over. But Khaleel somehow managed to get Jadeja back on strike. Rashid Khan just bowled a terrible ball being extremely short of length to which Jadeja holed out to the fielder on the mid-wicket boundary. The match ended in a tie. The first ever tie in the Asia Cup history!!! Bangladesh beat Pakistan in the last match of the Super 4’s and reached the Finals.

In the Finals, India won the toss and elected to field first. And it was soon proving to be a costly decision as Bangladesh came out with an aggressive intent scoring close to 6 an over for the initial phase of the innings. Liton Das brought up his 50 off just 33 balls and was well supported by Mehidi Hasan’s stay at the crease. Bangladesh brought up their 100 in just the 17th over of the innings. Liton Das and Mehidi Hasan put on 120 runs for the 1st wicket stand. As nothing seem to be helping for India, Kedar Jadhav was brought in to the attack and he got India the first wicket. Chahal got out Kayes from the other hand while Jadhav also dismissed Mushfiqur Rahim which was followed by Mohammad Mithun’s run-out and Mahmudullah eventually got out to Kuldeep Yadav. Bangladesh were struggling at now 151/5 and they needed partnerships. Liton Das brought up his century in the 31st over of the innings. Das and Sarkar put on 37 for the 6th wicket before Liton Das got out stumped on 121 by Dhoni off Kuldeep. Bangladesh got bowled out for 222.

It looked like India would easily get to this target but this was a Final was there was a little pressure. The pitch was a little sluggish and runs were difficult to come by along with the fact that Bangladesh had quality in their spin bowling department. Although, the form that Rohit Sharma and Dhawan had been throughout the tournament they did not face much of difficulties in getting off to a quick start. A bit of complacency was shown by Dhawan when he charged down the track against Nazmul Islam to get caught at mid-off on 15 with India losing their 1st wicket with 35 runs on the board. Couple of overs later, Ambati Rayudu edged Rubel Hossain to get caught behind on just 2 leaving India at 46/2!! India faced it difficult for the singles to come by was Bangladesh had set an attacking field. Rohit Sharma was going well until he mis-timed a lofted pull to get caught on the boundary off Rubel on 48. Dinesh Karthik was joined by MS Dhoni at the crease. Dhoni hadn’t been in great this tournament so the pressure was on Karthik to not let the scoring rate get affected. With runs drying up at the other hand the pressure got on Karthik and he was dismissed lbw by Mahmudullah on 37. MS Dhoni got out caught behind off Mustafizur Rahman on 36. With India at 160/5, Bangladesh could’ve sensed that victory!! Kedar Jadhav pulled his leg a bit while running and he was really struggling at the crease. Being aware of the situation, Rohit Sharma called him back to the dressing room and sent out Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Ravindra Jadeja alongside Bhuvneshwar Kumar put on 45 for the 7th wicket. Bhuvneshwar Kumar hit at six in the 46th over and a boundary in the 47th over which relieved a bit of pressure for India. Jadeja eventually got out on 23. Kedar Jadhav was back at the crease now. He somehow managed to hit a boundary while Bhuvneshwar Kumar was caught behind on 21 in the 49th over.

Now 6 runs were needed off the last ball. Mashrafe Mortaza gave the last over to Soumya Sarkar but suddenly pulled him out considering that he failed to defend 8 off the Final over in Nidahas Trophy and along with the fact that the pitch was turning square so with Kuldeep Yadav on strike Mahmudullah had more of a chance to defend those runs. Kuldeep Yadav got a single on the first ball. Kedar Jadhav tried to take a couple of runs on the next ball but couldn’t do so because of his injury. So Kuldeep tried to take up the responsibility of finishing matches on his own. He brought out a slog sweep but couldn’t get it past the boundary and they took 2 runs. Kuldeep missed the 4th delivery of the over with 2 runs now need off 2 balls!! He somehow managed to take a single with Jadhav playing the last ball. The ball hit Kedar Jadhav’s pads and he got it throught for a leg-bye. India lifted the Asia Cup 2018 by winning the Final off the last ball by 3 wickets in hand. The decision to have Kedar Jadhav called back and sending him in the last phase off the game did a world of good to India who could’ve lost it had it not been for Jadhav.

Rohit Sharma now won his 2nd tournament as an Indian Captain in the 2 tournaments he led India along with 3 IPL trophies to his name!!!!!

Bhuvneshwar Kumar said:
Hong Kong game was a wake-up call. After that, I was really happy, because on these wickets you need to force mistakes from the batsmen. Consistency with line and length is the key here.
Ravindra Jadeja said:
I was out for almost 15 months, so wasn't feeling good. I was thinking whenever I get the opportunity, I wanted to prove myself. To myself, not to anyone else. Good to improve my own skills. You need to prove yourself whenever you get the opportunity, especially if you know everyone's watching you.
Shikhar Dhawan said:
Really enjoyed this tournament. Fantastic final, and really good tournament for myself. Enjoyed my batting and want to continue this way. England tour has helped me become mature, and I was playing more balanced in this tournament. Want to remain consistent. Helps to have Rohit as the partner. His consistency at the top matters for me as well. He plays the aggressor's role, sometimes I do. And he too had a great Asia Cup.
Rohit Sharma said:
We played some good cricket through the tournament and this is the reward for hard work. We've put in a complete performance. We dominated the entire tournament and this is the reward. Games like these can happen, and I've been part of such encounters before. But credit to the boys out there to handle the pressure towards the end. And to cross the finishing line was a great effort. Bangladesh batted brilliantly, put us under pressure early. But we knew that we could get back when the ball becomes older. It was important to keep the pressure building, and it was something we did well in doing. With a team so good, the captain always looks good. But it's not easy without the support of the ten other players, so credit to them. Last but not the least, thanks to the crowd. Right from the beginning, they've come in huge numbers.

All this shows that how well India played in the tournament as a team and showed some good qualities of Rohit Sharma is a leader of the team. It was not as if they played an outstanding Cricket all throughout considering the fact that they looked down and out at one stage in their opening game against Hong Kong but since then they pulled themselves up and raised their own standard of performance and eventually made it to the Finals and won the 2018 Asia Cup.

Let us look at some of the good decisions from Rohit Sharma that made a great impact in the tournament for India:-
  1. Keeping his calm as Captain and backing his best bowlers when Hong Kong was running away with the game
  2. Backing Khaleel Ahmed at the death overs in the game against Hong Kong when he was bowling well
  3. Trusting Kedar Jadhav’s bowling and introducing him at times when the opposition seem to run away with the game
  4. Using attacking fields in the 1st Powerplay and trusting his new ball bowlers to get early wickets for the team
  5. Brought back Ravindra Jadeja in the playing 11 and trusting his abilities as a genuine all-rounder even after the fact that he hadn’t been with the limited overs set-up of India for close to 20 months!!!
  6. Reviewing a decision on Chahal’s appeal in the Super 4’s game against Pakistan for the wicket of Imam ul Haq without giving a 2nd thought even when he got no support.
  7. Resting some key players after India qualified for the Finals against Afghanistan just to keep them fresh for the Finals, showed selflessness by dropping himself even after being the Captain of the team.
  8. Not getting panicked by the fact that Bangladesh were scoring at close to 6 runs per over putting on a 100+ stand for the 1st wicket.
  9. Calling back Kedar Jadhav and trusting Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s ability with the bat and sending Jadhav on the ground at the right time.
Chapter 27- The West Indies series


West Indies were going to tour India for a 2-match Test series followed by a 5-match ODI & a 3-match T20 series. The tour for the West Indies side began with a 2-match Test Series. This series wasn’t going to be a tough one for India considering that West Indies had never beaten India since the 90s along with the fact that this was going to be a home series for India. The last time an away team won a Test series in India was the England team in 2012. So basically this series was important for India only from the point of view of filling the holes in the side before the big series down under against Australia.

India won the toss in the first Test at Rajkot and surprisingly elected to bat first as opposed to them wanting to field first in most of the home games. 19 year old right-handed opener from Mumbai, Prithvi Shaw made his debut for India. KL Rahul got out in the first over being late on to his shot to which he got out lbw for a duck to Shannon Gabriel. Shaw and Pujara both batted aggressively scoring at close to 5 runs per over!!! Shaw brought up his 50 in just 56 balls as the debutant really took on the attack to every bowler and smashed boundaries to all parts of the game. This was something similar to what Virender Sehwag did in his career. Pujara also brought up his half century in just 67 balls. India were 133/1 at Lunch on Day 1. Shaw continued to bat aggressively as he brought up his 100 in just 99 deliveries. He became the 16th Indian player and 106th player overall to score a century on debut. He became the youngest player for India and 4th youngest overall to score a century on debut. He also scored the 3rd fastest century on Test debut. Pujara was dismissed caught behind on 86 off the bowling of debutant Shimron Lewis. Shaw also got out caught&bowled by leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo on 133. Rahane got out bowled on 41 to Bishoo. Rishabh Pant and Kohli put on another big partnership. Kohli scored his 24th Test century becoming the 2nd fastest to that feat in terms of innings played after Sir Don. Rishabh Pant got out to Bishoo after scoring an aggressive 92 off just 84. Kohli scored 139 while Jadeja went on to score his maiden Test century. India declared their inning scoring a mammoth 649/9.

The score was too much for the West Indies as they crumbled to 181 all out. Ashwin managed to pick up 4 wickets. Roston Chase’s 53 and Keemo Paul’s 47 were the only noticeable contributions from the West Indies batsmen. India gave West Indies a follow on considering that they trailed India by 468 runs. In the 2nd innings, opener Kieran Powell scored 83 off 93 balls. Other than that the West Indies were terribly worse as they just managed to score 196 losing the match by an innings and 272 runs!!! Kuldeep Yadav got his 1st 5-wicket haul in his Test career, Jadeja also picked up 3 wickets. This was India’s biggest innings victory in Test Cricket. Prithvi Shaw was adjudged Man of the match for his 133 runs which he scored on his Test debut.

The West Indies were greeted by a positive news ahead of the 2nd Test at Hyderabad(Deccan) as skipper Jason Holder who missed out the first Test due to injury was fit for the 2nd Test. West Indies won the toss and elected to bat first. Shardul Thakur made his Test debut for India. But he just bowled 10 balls and wasn’t able to bowl in the rest of the match due to some injury. Ashwin got out Powell for 22 while Kuldeep dismissed Kraigg Brathwaite lbw for 14. Umesh Yadav got Shai Hope out for 36. West Indies were soon 182/6. Roston Chase scored 106 while Jason Holder contributed 52. West Indies batted more than 100 overs and scored 311 all out in their 1st innings. Once again the opposition tailed wagged against India as West Indies added 127 runs for their last 4 wickets. Umesh Yadav bowled one of his best spells in his career as he finished with figures of 6/88. He bowled a hostile spell consistently beating the edged of the bat with his pace and accuracy.

Jason Holder struck with an early wicket for the West Indies as KL Rahul was out bowled for 4. Prithvi Shaw continued his innings from where he left off in Rajkot. He scored 70 off just 53 balls. Jason Holder got out Kohli for 45 as India were now reeling at 162/4 still trailing West Indies by 149 runs. Rishabh Pant scored 92 and Rahane scored 80. Rahane’s innings was a much needed one since he had struggled for his runs for quite a time and his contributions were important going forward with Australia tour approaching. Ashwin also added useful 35 runs as India scored 364 all out in their 1st innings. Holder finished with figures of 5/56 while Gabriel also took 3 wickets. This was followed by another terrible innings from the West Indies as they were bowled out for 127. Umesh Yadav took 4 wickets as he finished with 10 wickets for the match. And all this was the effect of backing of fast bowlers and the fitness culture by Virat Kohli which was seeing range of Indian fast bowlers dominating the world. India chased down their target of 72 in just 16 overs winning the match by 10 wickets. They won the 2-Test series 2-0 and that too quite comprehensively as expected. Prithvi Shaw was adjuded Man of the Series. It seemed that Shaw’s inclusion at the top of the order was doing wonders for India.

It was now time for the 5-match ODI series. This was a crucial series since it was going to be decisive of India’s squad selection for the upcoming World Cup. Although, India had recently won the Asia Cup but they were still struggling to find a proper no.4. Also, it was important for India to maintain their form before the World Cup and not lose confidence. It was equally important for the West Indies to find their right combination. West Indies had a strong batting line-up well capable of scoring 300+ consistently on flat and dead pitches. India had a lot of those on offer, especially in this particular series.

The first ODI was to be played at the Barsapura Stadium in Guwahati. This was the first ODI and 2nd International match at this venue. Known for it’s hard flat track, this stadium had a lot to offer from a batting’s perspective and it suited the West Indies batting line-up. Rishabh Pant made his ODI debut for India after impressing one and all in the Test series in England. On the other hand, Oshane Thomas and Chandrapaul Hemraj made their debuts for the West Indies. India won the toss and chose to field first considering the dew factor that would’ve come into play. Mohammed Shami was playing his first ODI since the 2015 World Cup got Hemraj out bowled for 9. Kieran Powell and Shai Hope batted well and were building on a good partnership. Powell scored 51 off 39 balls but was caught in the slips off Khaleel Ahmed. Samuels got out lbw on a duck to Chahal. Kohli was constantly shuffling his bowlers to keep the West Indies batsman guessing. Shai Hope got out on 32 to Shami leaving West Indies stuttering at 114/4. It looked like the West Indies will get bowled out under 220-230 odd. Shimron Hetmyer was playing aggressively scoring boundaries at all part of the ground and sixes at will. Rowman Powell who was playing a good supporting role got out on 22 bowled by Jadeja. Hetmyer scored his century in just 74 balls but he got out on 106 to Jadeja, this knock had helped West Indies reach 248 in 42 overs. Ashley Nurse got out lbw on 2 to Chahal. Holder and Bishoo continued attacking the Indian bowlers. Holder got out on 38. Bishoo and Kemar Roach added 44 runs for the 9th wicket. West Indies had put up a really good score of 322/8 in their 50 overs. Would’ve been a tough ask for India. Oshane Thomas got Shikhar Dhawan out for 4 in his 1st over. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma batted incredibly well and put on a 252 runs for the 2nd wicket. Kohli scored 140. Rayudu came out all guns blazing and scored 22*(26) while Rohit scored 152*. India chased down 323 in just 42 overs and won the match by 8 wickets. A complete dominance by India in the 1st ODI.

The 2nd ODI was played at Vishakhapatnam. Oshane Thomas after his terrible performance in the last match for dropped and Obed McCoy made his debut. India brought in Umesh Yadav for Khaleel Ahmed. Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first. Sharma got out for just 4 after scoring 152* in the 1st ODI. Dhawan also got out for just 29. In walked Ambati Rayudu trying to fill the spot of a proper no.4 that India were looking for since ages. He batted with a very good strike rate scoring 73 off 80 and put on a 150-run partnership with the Indian Captain. Kohli scored his 36th ODI century. MS Dhoni struggled all throughout on his way to 20. Risabh Pant got out on 17. Kohli and Jadeja added 59 for the 6th wicket partnership. Kohli ended up with 157* taking India to 321/7 in their 50 overs. He become the 5th batsman after Sachin, Ganguly, Dravid and Dhoni to score 10,000 ODI runs for India. India were one run short of the total that West Indies had scored in the 1st ODI on a similar pitch. West Indies had scored 78/3 in their 17 overs. Shimron Hetmyer joined Shai Hope at the crease. Hope was well set batting over 50, so West Indies needed a good partnership to get back into the game. The Indian spinners failed to grip the wet ball as Hetmyer took the Kul-Cha on to the attack and scored 94 off 64 balls missing out on consecutive hundred in 2 matches by just a clean strike. West Indies collapsed after Hetmyer’s dismissal but Hope made sure he held his end. They need 8 runs in their last over against Umesh Yadav. He was wayward in his bowling but somehow got the match to the last ball with West Indies needing 5 off the last ball. Hope hit a lofted shot through covers and a mis-field from Rayudu resulted in the match ending as a tie.

From Vishakhapatnam we now move to Pune. Bhuvi-Bumrah were added back to the squad for the next 3 ODIs. India won the toss and elected bowl first. Bumrah gave West Indies 2 early blows while Khaleel in his comeback match got Samuels out caught behind for 9. West Indies were now 55/3. Hetmyer and Hope once again got together with the former playing the aggressor. Hetmyer got out stumped by Dhoni off Kuldeep on 37(21). Hope put on 76 with Holder for the 6th wicket. He got out on 95 to Bumrah. Ashley Nurse batting at no.9 added 40 runs. West Indies scored 283/7 in their 50 overs. Jasprit Bumrah finished with figures of 4/35. Holder got Rohit out bowled for 8. Dhawan and Kohli batted positively and kept up well with the run-rate. Dhawan was out on 35. Rayudu and Kohli put on 47 for the 3rd wicket. Rayudu got on on 22 while Pant scored 24. Dhoni contributed just 7 and continued with his poor form. Virat Kohli scored his 37th ODI century and become the 2nd batsman in ODI history to score 5 consecutive 100s in a single country. A record held by Pakistan’s Babar Azam who achieved it a year ago against Sri Lanka in UAE(had scored 3 consecutive 100s against West Indies in 2016). The pressure of scoreboard was mounting on him as he got out bowled to Samuels on 107. West Indies won by 43 runs making it 1-1 at the end of 3 matches.

The 4th ODI was going to be played at Brabourne Stadium. It was a must win game for India if they had to win this series. Probably a situation that India might need to face in the upcoming 2019 World Cup. India won the toss and elected to bat first. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan made full use of the conditions that were helpful for the batsman. They score close to 7 run per over. Dhawan got out on 38 while Kohli got out on 16. Rohit Sharma brought up his 21st century in ODI Cricket and went on to score 162. Ambati Rayudu also scored his 3rd ODI Century. India scored 377/5 in their 50 overs. West Indies were reduced to 101/8. Jason Holder somehow managed to score a 50 as West Indies made it past 150. They went on to lose the match by 224 runs. Khaleel Ahmed got 3/13 while Kuldeep got 3/42. Bhuvi and Jadeja got a wicket each while there were 2 run-outs. India lead the 5-match series 2-1.

The last match of the series was going to be played at Thiruvananthapuram. Under Overcast skies, West Indies won the toss in this decider match and elected to bat first. Bhuvi dismissed Kieran Powell caught behind on a duck. Shai Hope also scored a duck as he got out bowled to Bumrah. Rovmann Powell who had opened the batting in this match was caught in the slips by Khaleel. Jason Holder promoted himself at no.6 to somehow stop the momentary collapse. Jadeja took 4 /34 as West Indies were bowled out for 104. India did almost everything right on the field that day. Rohit Sharma scored 63* and Kohli scored 33* as India won the match by 9 wickets in just 15 overs and eventually took the series 3-1. Once again India raised their game when it was required on their part. Spoke a lot about the belief in this side.

Kohli was rested for the 3-match T20I series which was won 3-0 by India. Rohit Sharma Captained India and scored a century in the 2nd T20I at Lucknow becoming the first player in the history to score 4 centuries in T20Is.

Virat Kohli eventually got most of the things right in this series but it was equally a case of difference between the 2 sides in terms of skill and quality. Whatsoever, India were just dominant to sum up this series.
I have lost all confidence in him as a captain. I tried to analyze India's performances and feel he doesn't seem to be the right person to lead us into the CWC 2023. Based on his horrendous explanation at the toss yesterday, I am wishing for us to lose 3-1 ,so he can be removed as skipper.

If you have followed VK throughout his career, you would find a similarity in his approach. His teams tend to dominate the tournaments, only to falter in the final leg. This happened during the U19 CWC in Malaysia, where we went past all opposition without a hiccup (NZ provided a challenge) only to screw up batting in the finals.We were lucky to have won that won. In the Sr. India team, VK's team has consistently made the KO stages. Just got me thinking- is it something that VK says to the team that makes them screw up so bad?

Chapter 28- The Tour Down Under


After a dominating performance at home against the West Indies, India now moved to Australia for a long tour consisting of T20Is, Tests and ODIs. The tour was going to start from November 2018 and extended upto January 2019. The Australian side was under crisis and were struggling for form and good results. This side had lost Test series in South Africa 3-1, ODI series 5-0 in England, T20 Tri-series Final in Zimbabwe against Pakistan ad Test series in UAE to Pakistan. The newly appointed Australian coach Justin Langer was struggling to get results with this Australian side. And to add to the misery Steven Smith and David Warner along with Cameron Bancroft were banned for 12 months & 9 months respectively following the Sandpaper Gate Saga.

India had arrived to Australia with high expectations this time considering the pace bowling attack they had along with Australia missing out on their key players along with that having a new Captain and a new coach. So India were going into this tour as being the favourites and were expected to remain unbeaten all 3 formats of the game.

The tour began with a 3-match T20 series. The 1st T20I was played at The Gabba in Brisbane. India won the toss and elected to field first. Australia were off to a slow start scoring just 24 in 4 overs. India brought left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed into the attack. Since it was a left-arm pacer bowling to a left-handed D’Arcy Short, Short considered this as an opportunity to take on the bowler. He tried to loft the very first ball as it went high up in the night sky, Kuldeep Yadav took a backward running catch. Aaron Finch and Chris Lynn counter-attacked the Indian bowlers and took the run-rate above 7.5 an over from 6 an over. Kuldeep Yadav was brought in to the attack. Aaron Finch trying to up the scoring rate lofted Kuldeep Yadav to get out caught at backward point on 27. Couple of overs later Chris Lynn got out caught & bowled. India were back in it as Australia managed just 75 for the loss of 3 wickets at the half-way stage of the innings. Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis joined hands at the crease. Maxwell went beserk from the word go as he attacked Krunal Pandya and Khaleel Ahmed hitting 4 sixes scoring 46(24). He got out to Bumrah. Marcus Stoinis was equally dominant as he scored a 33*(19). Kuldeep Yadav was the best bowler on the day as he finished with figures of 2/24 in his 4 overs. Australia had scored 159/4 in 17 overs and looked good for a 200-score but India were still left with an over each from Bhuvi and Bumrah along with an over of Khaleel who was not having his best day giving away 42 in his 3 overs. So anything could’ve happened but the rain had other ideas. The match was reduced to 17 overs per side. The DLS adjusted target for India was 174, which was a little more than what they would’ve liked to chase down.

Dhawan was all over the Australian bowlers as India scored 35 in 4 overs. Rohit Sharma was caught at deep fine-leg on 7(8) by Aaron Finch off Jason Behrendorff. The powerplay was reduced to 5-overs for India as they managed 41/1. KL Rahul was stumped on 13(12) by Alex Carey off Adam Zampa. He also got Kohli in the next over. India had scored 94/3 in 10 overs needing 80 off just 42. With the run-rate rising Dhawan went for a shot one too many against Billy Stanlake as he got out on 76(42). Inspite of DK and Rishabh Pant’s cameo, India fell short by 4 runs. So it was clear that India couldn’t take this understrength team lightly and they needed to give better efforts on their part to beat Australia.

The 2nd T20I was played at the iconic MCG. India once again won the toss and elected to field first. Bhuvneshwar Kumar got the Australian skipper caught behind for a golden duck on the 2nd ball of the innings. Khaleel Ahmed dismissed Chris Lynn for 13. D’Arcy Short got out bowled in Khaleel’s next over. Stoinis brought out an upper cut playing Bumrah and a caught at the third man boundary by DK. Australia were struggling at 41/4. Maxwell failed to bail out Australia this time as he got out bowled to Krunal’s usual variation of bowl quick, full and straight. Alex Carey tried to hit out Kuldeep Yadav and was caught at the long mid-wicket boundary by Krunal. Australia were now 74/6. Nathan Coulter-Nile’s cameo took Australia closer to the 100-run mark getting out caught at third man off Bhuvi’s bowling. Ben McDermott and Andrew Tye tried to score as much as they can. Australia were 132/7 in 19 overs. The play was abandoned due to rainfall for the remaining part of the match. Although, India failed to win this match it was refreshing to see Indian bowlers bouncing back after what happened at The Gabba.

The decider was played at the SCG. On a slightly slower and a much drier surface, Australia won the toss and elected to bat first. They were off to a very good start scoring 49/0 in the Powerplay. Rohit Sharma dropped Aaron Finch on 22 off Kuldeep. But he got out in the next over to Krunal for 26. D’Arcy Short missed a straight one from Krunal and he was out lbw for 33. Ben McDermott missed a sweep as he too was out lbw to Krunal. Krunal Pandya was now on a hat-trick. He bowled a similar delivery to Carey who missed the ball and survived the hat-trick ball. Australia’s ploy to send Maxwell in at 3 failed as he got out on 13(16) to Krunal. Australia somehow made it to 164/6 in their 20 overs. It was not going to be easy to chase down this target since the ball was stopping on to the bat and the pitch was slower. So it became difficult to hit the soft older ball as compared to a hard new ball.

Keeping the conditions in mind, the Indians batted aggressively and made full use of the Powerplay over scoring 67/1. The opening partnership was dominated by Dhawan who scored 41(22) as he got out lbw to Starc off a yorker through a review from Australia. Rohit got out bowled on 23(16) to Adam Zampa. KL Rahul struggled his way to 14(20) mistiming Maxwell to get out caught at long-off. India now needed 60 off 42. Australia just needed a couple of good overs while India needed partnerships. The Indian skipper took up this responsibility as he tried to bat through the innings. DK got timely boundaries which kept India in the game. Eventually, they won this match by 6 wickets and levelled the series 1-1. Kohli scored 61*(41). Krunal got Man of the match. India would be still a little disappointed that they lost the match at Gabba but they had the very important Test series to look forward to.

No Asian team had ever won a Test series in Australia. More so to do with the fact that the Australians were very dominant for nearly a century and they hardly lost anything at home in the last decade or so when it came to the longest form of the game. Missing the seniors in Smith & Warner was a major setback for Australia this time along with the inexperience that existed in the team. So India had a great opportunity to do the impossible. The closest that India came to winning in Australia was in 2003-04 when they draw level with Ricky Ponting’s team that had the likes of Ponting himself, Hayden, Langer, Steve Waugh & Adam Gilchrist under the leadership of Sourav Ganguly. Although, this Indian team was nowhere close to the team of Ganguly era. But what prevailed in this side was the belief to do better anywhere in the world. Virat Kohli’s men had been dominant but they had lost to South Africa 2-1 & England 4-1. So there was pressure of expectations on the Indian side to prove its critics wrong.

India lost their opener Prithvi Shaw in the Warm up match against the Cricket Australia XI at the SCG. The 19-year old batsman had injured himself while fielding and was ruled out of the first Test and eventually the entire Test series. The first of the 4-match series was going to be played at the Adelaide Oval. Adelaide was the same venue where Virat Kohli had made his Test Captaincy debut and had scored century in both innings of the match. Also, Kohli had scored 3 centuries before this match at this venue. So, it was a good venue to start off this series for India considering the form that Kohli was in the previous tours to South Africa and England the same year.

On a slightly greener surface, India won the toss and elected to bat first. KL Rahul tried to drive Hazlewood away from his body and was caught in the slips on the last ball of the 2nd over. Murali Vijay was dismissed in the similar fashion to Mitchell Starc caught by Australian Captain Tim Paine who was keeping the wickets. Virat Kohli went for the cover drive far away from his body off Pat Cummins and was caught in the gully by Usman Khawaja for just 3!!! Rahane stepped out of the crease to Nathan Lyon and hit a six in the stands to release some pressure but that was all he could do as he too went for the booming drive and was caught in the slips by Peter Handscomb off Josh Hazlewood. India were now 41/4, a terrible start after winning the toss and electing to bat first. Pujara was joined at crease by Rohit Sharma who was making a comeback into the Indian Test team. Pujara looked rock solid at the crease and batted with discipline. Rohit Sharma showed a little more composure than he usually would do and hit some beautiful shots. The best shot of his was a lofted punch on the front foot over extra cover for a six against Pat Cummins. But soon his aggression took over him and he went for a lofted shot at the on-side to Nathan Lyon being dropped on the boundary as it went for four. He repeated the same shot the next ball but terribly timed this one to get caught at mid-wicket. A good looking start thrown away with a nothing shot. Pujara soon reached his half century. He along with Rishabh Pant added 41 runs for the 6th wicket before Pant got out to Nathan Lyon on 25. Ashwin also added 62 runs with Pujara. He was caught behind on 25 trying to hit Cummins through the covers off the backfoot. Pujara was batting at a higher rate now and was closing in on to his century. Ishant Sharma was out bowled to Starc with Pujara into his 90s. Couple of overs later Pujara scored his first century in Australia. He went on to score 123 and was run-out on the last ball of the day. Shami got out on the first ball of Day 2. India scored 250 all out in their first innings. Without Pujara’s innings, India wouldn’t have reached 150.

Aaron Finch on his Test debut got out on a 3-ball duck bowled to Ishant Sharma trying to play a big booming drive as if this was a T20 game. The other Australian opener Marcus Harris was also making his debut. He played some good shots through the covers and back past the bowler. He tried to guide Ashwin towards the third-man but was caught by Vijay in the slips. Shaun Marsh inside-edged one from Ashwin and was out bowled. Australia were 59/3 at Lunch on Day 2. This was a great start for India and they just needed a couple of more wickets to really test Australia’s lower order. Khawaja got caught behind by Pant off Ashwin on 28. Peter Handscomb and Travis Head added 33 runs in close to 20 overs but Handscomb gave in to the pressure exerted by the Indian pacers as he got out on 34 with Australia losing half their side on 120. Tim Paine got out becoming Bumrah’s 2nd victim. Pat Cummins and Head added another 50 runs for the 7th wicket. Australia ended Day 2 on 191/7. Head continued to pile on the runs as he scored 72 taking Australia to 235 all out in their 1st innings.

With a lead of 15 runs, India began their innings positively. They added 63 for the 1st wicket. KL Rahul scored 44 at a brisk rate. Kohli and Pujara had put on a little over 60 before Kohli got out to Lyon on 34 trying to cut the ball as he found an inside edge and was caught in the slips. Pujara and Rahane batted brilliantly and continued it into Day 4. Pujara was caught at short leg on 71. Rahane found a ridiculous way to got out as he reverse swept straight into the hands of the fielder at cover and was out to Lyon on 70. India collapsed from 234/3 to 307 all out. Lyon got 6 wickets, finishing with 8 for the match.

Chasing 323, Australia got off to a decent start before they lost Aaron Finch caught at short leg. At Tea on Day 4, Australia were 28/1. Harris edged Shami on 26 to get out caught behind. Usman Khawaja came dancing down the track to Ashwin and was caught at covers by Rohit Sharma on 8. Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb tried to play safe and see off few overs before Handscomb got out to a bouncer from Shami to get caught at mid-wicket. Australia ended Day 4 on 104/4. With Head and Shaun Marsh still at the crease India would be a little worried but they knew they just had to take a couple of wickets to get back in the game. Indian bowlers bowled better line and length and got early wickets on Day 5. Shaun Marsh finally got out on 60. Australia lost a few more wickets and at 259/9 it became clear that India were nearly there. But there was a turn around as Nathan Lyon started to score all around the park and he received support from Hazlewood. Nathan Lyon looked good for a half century and an Australian victory suddenly was within range. Ashwin gave India the final wicket as India won the 1st Test by 31 runs. Although the tail scoring against India was still a worry and could very well hurt India’s chances in the later part of the series.

Ashwin got injured before the 2nd Test and with Jadeja not fully fit India had to play an extra batsman. Hence they brought in Hanuma Vihari. Australia went in unchanged inspite of losing the 1st Test. Australia won the toss and chose to bat first. Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris put on a 112-run partnership for the 1st wicket in just 35 overs. Finch got out lbw on 50 to Bumrah. Harris went on to score 70. Harris, Khawaja and Handscomb got out in quick succession. Australia were suddenly 148/4. Shaun Marsh and Travis Head added 84 for the 5th wicket. Shaun Marsh fell on 45 to Vihari’s part-time spin becoming his 2nd victim after Marcus Harris. Australia ended Day 1 on 277/6. The tail added 75 runs which was becoming a bit of a usual problem for India. Australia scored 326 all out in their 1st innings. The pitch had uneven bounce and looked quite dry which meant that Australia with that score will have an advantage with a quality spinner like Nathan Lyon in their attack along with the pace trio of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins. Indian bowlers were wayward and Umesh Yadav in particular as he conceded 78 in just 23 overs. Ishant Sharma’s spell of 4/41 was the only highlight of India’s bowling. It was a great effort on Vihari’s part to finish with figures of 2/53 being a part-timer.

India were off to a terrible start losing both their openers just inside 5 overs. Virat Kohli and Pujara had a huge task ahead of them now with India still trailing by 318 runs with 2 batsmen down already. The Australians were extracting a lot of movement from the surface and getting a good bounce at the same time. Kohli on that pitch looked being in a league of his own. Starc finally broke through Pujara’s defence getting him caught behind on 24. He along with Kohli added 74 for the 3rd wicket stand. Rahane joined Kohli at the crease on 82/3. It was important that both these players batted through the day to put India into a commanding position at the end of Day 2. And they did just that. India ended Day 2 on 172/3 with Kohli batting on 82 & Rahane on 51 respectively. Australia got Rahane on the 1st over of Day 3. Vihari and Kohli added another 50 runs as Kohli went past his 25th Test century. It was quite a milestone to achieve for the Indian Captain as he was in a different form altogether in the past year or so. Kohli edged one batting on 123 to which the umpires were unsure and gave the soft signal as out. Replays were inconclusive and hence he had to walk back after a brilliant knock on a difficult surface to bat on. India collapsed after Kohli’s wicket as they were bowled out on 283 giving away a lead of 43 runs to Australia. They were already behind in this match once Australia had reached 326 and it was difficult to make way back into that match afterwards. Nathan Lyon got 6 wickets.

Australia were going well despite some aggressive bowling from the Indians and were close to a 100-run lead when Aaron Finch was hit on his finger by a short ball from Shami as he was walked off the field. Harris got out bowled shouldering arms to Bumrah. Shaun Marsh edged Shami and was caught by Pant. Handscomb got out lbw to Ishant Sharma. Travis Head was caught by Ishant off Shami. Australia ended Day 3 on 132/4 leading India by 175 runs. India needed some quick wickets to make a comeback in this match. But Khawaja and Paine survived the initial spell in the Day and added 65 more runs. Australia were bowled out for 243 giving India a target of 287 runs to win. It looked improbable to chase such a target on that sort of pitch. Shami took 6/56 in the 2nd innings but couldn’t stop Australia from taking a very good lead. India as expected couldn’t survive on that pitch as they were bowled out for 140 losing the match by 147 runs. It all came down to the 1st innings where the Indian bowlers struggled to find the right kind of length on that surface. Series was now levelled 1-1. Another problem was India’s leadership group having lack of information of Jadeja’s fitness as they kept him out on a surface where Lyon took 8 wickets.

It was now time for the Boxing Day test at the iconic MCG. With the openers not performing well for them, India chose to leave out both Murali Vijay and KL Rahul and handed a debut to Mayank Agarwal. It was decided that Hanuma Vihari will open with Agarwal. The series being evenly poised at 1-1 this would’ve been a risky call. India won the toss and elected to bat first on the slow MCG track. The move to play the new opening pair paid extremely well for India as they were able to bat out the first 15 overs for the first time since 2009 in a SENA Country. But Vihari did not score as much as he had fight out his way for scoring 8(66). Pujara joined Agarwal at the crease. Agarwal played a confident array of strokes as he rotated the strike comfortably and was finding boundaries with ease. He added 83 with Pujara for the 2nd wicket before he got out to a short ball on 76 to Cummins. Kohli and Pujara batted extremely well after an incredible start provided by the openers and Agarwal in particular. No more wickets were lost as India ended Day 1 on 215/2 in 89 overs. The run-rate wasn’t looking as good but with 8 wickets in the bank India were looking for something well over 400. Pujara reached his 2nd century of the series(4th against Australia and 17th Overall). Kohli got out on 82 being caught in the slips off Mitchell Starc bringing an end to a 170-run partnership. Pujara got out bowled to Cummins on 106. With couple of wickets falling in quick succession it looked like Australia were going to wrap up things soon. Rohit and Rahane put on 62 for the 5th wicket while Rohit and Pant together added another 76 runs. Jadeja was dismissed on 4 while Rohit scored 63*(114). India declared their innings on 443/7. This total was good enough for India to not bat again in this match considering the inexperience in the Australian batting line-up.

Australia ended Day 2 batting on 8/0. They just kept on losing their wickets throughout their innings and were bundled out on 151. Bumrah looked unplayable and hard to be kept out as he finished with figures of 6/33. His pace and accuracy was worth appreciating as he looked the most brutal bowler of the lot. Not only did he used his pace to a great effect but he also came up with a surprisingly slow delivery to Shaun Marsh when he and Travis Head were looking to build on a good partnership which got him out lbw. Bit of a T20 Cricket there. Whatever it was, it was just brilliant from the right arm pacer!!!! India could’ve well given a follow on to Australia but instead they came out to bat and in turn it actually gave Australia a chance to play out a draw or even win the game if India faltered to a low score. Vihari and Agarwal put on 28 before Pat Cummins came up with an incredible spell taking 4 wickets in quick succession. At 32/4, India had to score some runs to give their bowlers a score more than enough to defend on this docile track of MCG where the bounce was just dying. Mayank Agarwal scored 42 while Rishabh Pant scored 33. India declared their innings on 106/8. Australia needed 399 runs to win the match.

The Indian bowlers were relentless just like the 1st innings and had Australia on 258/8 at the end of Day 4. The weather forecast wasn’t good for the 5th Day but they managed enough of overs to get the remaining 2 wickets as India won the match by 137 runs. As a result of this match, India had retained the Border Gavaskar Trophy and they had only ensure that they don’t lose the last game to win their first ever Test series in Australia.

Ishant Sharma was ruled out from the SCG Test due to an injury while Rohit had flown back to India for a paternity leave. So, India decided to bring back KL Rahul and Vihari moved back to the middle order. They also included chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav. Just like the MCG match, India won the toss and elected to bat first on a surface that had more pace and bounce and was expected to turn later in the match. KL Rahul got out for 9. Agarwal added 116 with Pujara before he got out on 77 trying to hit Lyon over mid-off. Kohli just scored 23 this time as he edged a back off the length delivery from Hazlewood to get out caught behind. Rahane was dismissed soon after. Pujara scored yet another century. India ended Day 1 on 303/4 and another 400+ score looked well within range. Vihari got out on 42. Pant and Pujara added 189 runs. Pujara, unfortunately missed out his double hundred by just 7 runs!!! Rishabh Pant went on to score his 2nd century in his career both of which had come outside Asia in England and Australia respectively. He went on to score an unbeaten 159. Jadeja also scored 81 runs as India put on 622 runs on the board declaring the score for the loss of 7 wickets.

Australia’s opening pair added 72 runs on the board (their 2nd best opening partnership in this series). Marcus Harris scored 79 as he got out bowled to Jadeja. Marnus Labuschagne batted at no.3 this time for Australia in his comeback match unlike the previous time where he batted at 8. Labuschagne scored 38 runs and looked impressive at the crease with his confident strokeplay. Australia ended Day 3 on 265/6 as badlight resulted in an early stoppage of play. The light didn’t look good for Day 4 either but India just got enough time to dismiss Australia on 300. Kuldeep Yadav finished with career best figures of 5/99. Australia for the first time in their 149-year history had been bowled out with a trail of more than 200 runs in consecutive matches at home. India enforced a follow on which had happened for the first time in Indian Cricket’s history in a Test match in Australia against Australia. At 6/0, bad light ended the day’s play. No further play was possible in this match as India made a history of winning a Test series in Australia for the first time becoming the first team from the subcontinent to do so.

Although, with all this dominance and this win in the hindsight this was the weakest Australian side in their history and to win 2-1 shouldn’t give an actual look of this Indian side provided that they lost a match by 150-odd runs to this team. Infact, they had just escaped a defeat and things could’ve been different had they failed to defend their score in the 1st Test at Adelaide.
Chapter 29- Build-up to the 2019 World Cup


After the end of Test series in Australia the focus was now on to the limited overs Cricket. With the World Cup just 6 months away it was high time for the Indian team find out their best combination and gain confidence from their performances. The first of the 3 ODI series that India were to play before the World Cup began with a 3-match series in Australia.

The first of the the 3-match series was to be played at the SCG. It was a good opportunity for India to continue their winning momentum and continue to be unbeaten on this tour. Australia won the toss and elected to bat first. Australia was off to a slow start as they lost their skipper Aaron Finch for just 6 out bowled to Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Alex Carey who had opened the batting had been scoring at a good rate but he just managed to score 24. Australia was 2 wickets down now for 41 in the Powerplay. India had to get wickets at a regular interval to put pressure on Australia. However, Khawaja and Shaun Marsh had other ideas as they build on a 91-run partnership before Khawaja got out lbw on 59 to Jadeja. Marsh got out to Kuldeep on 54. At 195/4, Australia had built on a good platform to take the score past 300. The slowness of the surface made the scoring a little difficult but the Australians managed to score 288/5 in their 50 overs. The last 5 overs costed 53 runs. And this could’ve been the difference. India gave a lot of easy singles to Australia and ended up conceding atleast 30 runs more than what they would’ve liked to chase.

Australia took confidence from their batting performance into their bowling as Jhye Richardson gave India some early blows. India were now 4/3!!!! MS Dhoni was promoted up the order to stop the collapse from one end. It was paying well for India but they were batting at just 3.5 runs per over till the 24th over mark. Rohit Sharma and Dhoni had to go for their shots now with the run-rate touching almost 9 runs per over. Dhoni scored his half century but it took him close to 90 deliveries. Rohit Sharma reached his 22nd ODI century and was playing at close to a run-a-ball. Dhoni got out on 51(96). His knock did help India save wickets but it hampered their run-rate to a great extent. Rohit Sharma was hitting almost every delivery that came in his hitting zone towards the boundary but it didn’t help as he mis-timed a slower delivery from Stoinis and was caught at mid-on scoring 133(129). This was Sharma’s most mature knocks in his ODI career and probably one of his best innings. So, this was a good sign for India. India lost the match by 34 runs and had to do something about their misfiring middle order especially with Dhoni not being able to rotate the strike.

The 2nd ODI was going to be played at the Adelaide Oval. The Adelaide pitch had more pace and bounce as compared to SCG, so run-scoring fest was on cards. Australia though lost both their openers on the score of 26. Shaun Marsh carried his form from SCG and was scoring quickly. Khawaja ran himself out on 21. Australia inspite of losing wickets scored a close to 5.50 runs per over. At 5/189, Glenn Maxwell joined Marsh at the crease. This pair gave the real boost to Australia at the back-end stage of the innings. Shaun Marsh scored 131. They scored 298/9 in their 50 overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar got 4/45 while Shami got 3/58. Jadeja was economical but got only 1 wicket. Siraj on debut conceded 0/76 in his 10 overs while Kuldeep conceded 0/66. The middle overs really cost India. This had now happened twice in 2 matches.

Dhawan came out all guns blazing while Rohit occupied the other end. Dhawan scored 32 off 28 balls and got India off to an ideal start. Kohli and Rohit added 53 before Rohit Sharma was caught at the boundary by Handscomb for 43. Stoinis got Rohit out twice in 2 matches. Rayudu wasn’t able to rotate strike as often as he would’ve liked. Trying to lift his scoring rate he came outside his crease to loft Maxwell as he got out caught on 24. Kohli and Dhoni joined hands together. Dhoni was once again struggling with his strike rotation so it was now on Kohli’s shoulders to keep up with the rate. Kohli scored his 39th ODI century. And to keep up with the rate he went for a shot one too many as he got out on 104. With 57 now required of 38 balls, Dinesh Karthik started to find boundaries and so as Dhoni from the other end. A struggling Dhoni found some momentum into his innings with the help of Karthik. India won by 6 wickets but it was once again the middle order that nearly messed up thing for them.

The series now levelled 1-1, it was now time for a decider. India had faced this situation quite a number of times in the last few series they played. So it was probably helping India to get used to playing the must-win games. They made a couple of changes for the MCG ODI bringing in Yuzvendra Chahal for Kuldeep Yadav since Kuldeep had failed to impress in the series thus far. Surprisingly, they had dropped Ambati Rayudu for Vijay Shankar in this match.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar continued his good bowling form as he got both the openers dismissed. India’s move of playing Chahal seem to be paying off since he got both the leading run-scorers at Australia in this series Shaun Marsh stumped for 39 and Khawaja caught&bowled for 34. He also dismissed Stoinis caught in the slips for 10. Shami got Maxwell from the other end. Jhye Richardson and Peter Handscomb were involved in a decent partnership for Australia as they added 45 for the 7th wicket. Chahal came for his final spell and dismissed both the batsmen. Handscomb who scored 58 was the top scorer of the innings. Chahal finished with figures of 6/42. Shami got Billy Stanlake out bowled as Australia were bowled out for 230.

Australian bowlers had somehow kept things tight for the Indian batsmen in this series and they continued doing so in this match as both Rohit and Dhawan were dismissed cheaply. Dhoni who had come in at 4 was dropped by Maxwell and Stoinis nearly got 2 wickets in 2 balls. The Kohli-Dhoni pair got their eyes in as they put on 54 runs. Kohli got out to Richardson for the third time in this series, this time for 46. India need 118 to win from their last 20 overs. Dhoni continued to struggle as far his strike rate was concerned and India now needed to score 77 off last 10 overs. Kedar Jadhav got some boundaries to bring the match back in India’s grasp and he was successful in doing so. India won the match by 6 wickets and won the series 2-1. Dhoni scored 87*(114) but it was more about Kedar Jadhav’s 61 which actually helped India. And from this series it looked like if India had to persist with Dhoni they had to bat him at 4 and fill the side with batsmen who could score quickly at the back-end.

After the ODI series in Australia, India were now going to play 5-match ODI series against New Zealand in New Zealand. India failed to win any of their matches on their last tour to New Zealand back in 2014. Also, this New Zealand team had emerged as their stronger version under the leadership of Kane Williamson as compared to the 2014 team. Ahead of the tour, it was announced that Bumrah’s rest was extended after his long tour in Australia.

The 1st ODI was going to be played at Napier. New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first. Mohammed Shami was proving to be a great revelation in white ball Cricket since his comeback in October 2018. He bowled on a tighter line and length and kept troubling the Kiwi openers as he dismissed both of them inside the score of 20. The experienced duo of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor tried rebuilding the New Zealand innings. They added 34 runs for the 3rd wicket before Chahal got Taylor out caught&bowled for 24. This had lead to a collapse as New Zealand were bowled out for 157. No one apart from Mitchell Santner were able to support Kane Williamson who scored 67. The Indian spinners gave nothing away as they shared 7 wickets between 3 of them(Chahal, Kuldeep & Jadhav). Shami took 3/19 while Kuldeep took 4/39. It was seen that Dhoni was guiding the young bowlers from behind the wickets asking them to vary their pace and bowl according to the way the pitch assisted the bowlers. Taking nothing away, India had finally found spinners to bowl well for them irrespective of the conditions. The Indian batsmen chased down 156 with ease (reduced from 158 due to DLS after play got affected due to excess sunlight on the ground). Dhawan scored 75 while Kohli scored 45.

The 2nd ODI was played at the Bay Oval. Just to try something different, India won the toss and elected to bat first on a flat pitch with dew factor to come into play late into the game. They got off to an extremely good start as they put on 154 runs for the 1st wicket. Dhawan fell for 66. Rohit Sharma followed soon after on 87. Kohli scored 43 runs off 45 balls. Rayudu and Dhoni struggled with their strike rotation as they failed to accelerate in the way India would’ve like. Rayudu could only make 47 off 49 ball. Jadhav and Dhoni’s late flourish took India to 324/4 in their 50 overs. Well short of what it looked like at one stage.

The Indian bowlers were now under pressure. Bhuvi got Guptill out in the 5th over as New Zealand lost their 1st wicket on 23. Munro and Williamson came up with a counter-attacking approach as they started to score close to 8 runs an over before Shami’s pace and bounce got Williamson out bowled off his bat’s bottom-edge for 20(11). Chahal appealed for Munro’s wicket which was turned down by the umpire. Chahal and Dhoni pushed Kohli to go for the review and it appeared as out. With continuous loss of wickets at regular intervals the target kept going out of New Zealand’s reach. At 166/8 it looked like the match would be over soon. But Bracewell smashed a 46-ball 57 before New Zealand got bowled out on 234 to lose the match by 90 runs. Once again it was Kuldeep’s magic with the ball as he took 4/45 which helped India to a great extent. However, India’s middle order still seemed to make them end up scoring less than what was expected while the tail from the opposition putting on a worthy performance seemed like a problem of it’s own.

The 3rd ODI was played at the same venue. MS Dhoni missed out this match due to being unfit for some reasons. New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat first. The new ball bowlers Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar once again made early in-roads as New Zealand lost 3 wickets for 59. It seemed that New Zealand were going to follow the same pattern which they did in their previous 2 encounters. Latham and Taylor put on good partnership just like they did in their historic run-chase at the Wankhede back in 2017. Latham was dismissed on 51 by Chahal. Ross Taylor went on to score 93 but was caught behind off Shami. The other batsman failed to put up anything much as New Zealand was bowled out for 243. Hardik Pandya on his comeback took 2/45, Shami took 3/41, Bhuvi took 2/46. Kuldeep went wicketless while Chahal took 2/51. It was all about the depth in Indian bowling that helped them consistently bowl out New Zealand on sub-par totals. India chased down the target in just 43 overs. Rohit Sharma scored 62 while Kohli scored 60. Rayudu also contributed 40 while Dinesh Karthik scored 38 as both them were unbeaten. India won the series 3-0 with a couple matches left. New Zealand were left with a lot of questions to answer. For India, Virat Kohli was sent back to India for the remaining matches.

India were Captained by Rohit Sharma in the 4th & 5th ODI. They were bowled out for 92 in the 4th match following a brilliant spell from Trent Boult who took 5/21 as New Zealand won by 8 wickets. India were struggling at 18/4 in the 5th ODI at Wellington but Rayudu scored a brilliant 90-odd while Vijay Shankar supported him with a fluent 45, but it was Hardik Pandya’s 22-ball 45 that took India to a respectable 252 all out. India bowled New Zealand out on 217 and won the 5-match series 4-1.

India though failed to win the T20I series being beaten 2-1 by New Zealand. But this series somehow proved that Captaincy isn’t something that affected India’s performance and that they had a terrific depth in their squad well capable to win matches on their own.

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