The dominance of Australia at the Brisbane Gabba has been similar to the dominance of South Africa at the Centurion ground. Team India won the first Test of the year at Gabba ground where no foreign team had won for the last 32 years. Team India ended the year by defeating South Africa in Centurion. With this win, Team India’s dream of winning the first Test series in South Africa seems to be coming true. Looking at the strength of both the teams, if Team India can do a clean sweep in this series, then it will not be wrong prediction.
This year Team India won 9 out of 13 Tests, lost two and drew as many. This year there were not too many ODIs due to the T20 World Cup. India has won two out of the three ODIs played this year. In a total of 13 T20Is, India won nine matches while were defeated in four. This includes the defeat against Pakistan and New Zealand. Due to this reason India was unable to reach the semi-finals of this World Cup.
Apart from that, this year Virat-Sourav & Ashwin-Shastri controversies are very much talked about. Virat relinquishing the captaincy of T20 and ODI. Rohit was given the responsibility of both white ball formats.
Defeating Australia in Australia and to beat England in England with 2-1 lead in the series were big highlights. Centurion’s victory has also been added where South Africa has won 21 out of 26 Tests. In the beginning of the year we saw Sydney Test draw and then history was created at Brisbane Gabba. In Sydney Test Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin with durable batting, were able to draw the match, while India was successful in winning the Brisbane Test with brilliant teamwork effort. Washington Sundar and Shardul’s century partnership in the first inning and brilliant bowling from Siraj, Shardul and Natarajan and history created by Shubman Gill, Pujara and Rishabh Pant to win this match convincingly. No visiting team could do that in the last 32 years in Gabba. This wonder was done by our net bowlers and the youth brigade. Gill and Pant could not complete centuries but they achieved more by winning the match.
In the home series against England, R Ashwin (32 wickets) and Axar Patel (27 wickets) got record-breaking success. In Chennai a double century from Joe Root and a fine batting from Ben Stokes, was an alarming bell for India. As a result, Team India was able to win the third Test in two days and the fourth Test by an innings.
In England, Nottingham Test ended in a draw due to rain. KL Rahul scored a century in the Lord’s test and Siraj took a total of eight wickets to make the match one-sided but in the very next test played in Leeds, India lost by an innings because Team India collapsed and they were all out at 78 runs only in the first innings and then could never recover from it till the end. Rohit Sharma made a big contribution to India’s victory by scoring a century in the Oval Test. Rohit scored the most runs for India while KL Rahul came second.
At the same time, India lost to NZ in the final of the World Test Championship at Southampton. In this match, India did not get a single half-century. In fact, Southee, Boult, Jamieson and Wagner completely curbed the Indian batting and India’s dream of winning the ICC trophy under Virat’s captaincy was shattered again.
At the end of the year, New Zealand lost to India by 0-1 in a two test series in India. But you cannot say it a revenge to NZ because bi-lateral series and WTC final have a big difference. Mayank Agarwal’s 150-run knock and Ashwin fine bowling (8 wickets) were the milestone in this series. New Zealand left-arm spinner Ejaz Patel took all ten wickets in India’s first innings to join the list of Jim Laker and Anil Kumble. Jim Laker and Kumble did it on their home conditions, while Ejaz did it on foreign soil. Earlier in the Kanpur Test, Shreyas Iyer scored a century in the first innings and half-century in the second innings. No debutant Indian player had achieved this feat. In the ODI format, India defeated England 2-1 in their own soil. It was a high scoring series in which India won the first ODI with fine innings from Shikhar, Virat, Rahul and Krunal Pandya but Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes leveled England in the very next ODI. England also lost the third ODI after scoring 322 runs. Shikhar, Pant and Hardik played key roles in the Indian victory.
In the T20 format, India defeated England 3-2 in their own ground, but in the World Cup of the same format, India had to face defeat at the hands of Pakistan and NZ. India neither batted nor bowled well against Pakistan, due to which Pakistan did what it could not do in the 12 matches played against India in the T20 and ODI World Cups. The flop show of Indian batting against New Zealand continued. After that, Team India showed bravery against the weaker teams but that was not enough for them to reach the semi-finals. At the end of the year, Team India won all three T20 matches played in Jaipur, Ranchi and Kolkata against New Zealand. In this, especially in the last T20, Axar Patel took three wickets for nine runs in three overs and now India defeated SA in Centurion.
In ICC Trophy, India could not win the Test and T20 World Cup, but India’s performance in the bilateral series was excellent especially in Australia and England and now in South Africa. The hope of winning the Test series in SA for the first time has been raised.