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Contrasting fortunes

While Pakistan suffered humiliating defeats in South Africa, India created history by winning their first-ever series in Australia

Contrasting fortunes

With the defeat in the second Test, Pakistan lost yet another series in South Africa without putting up much of a fight.

On the other hand, Team India won their first-ever Test series in Australia. Virat Kohli became not only the first Indian but also the first Asian skipper to win a Test series in Australia.

Indian cricket team toured Australia 11 times from 1947-48 to 2014-15 in which they lost eight series, while drawing others.

On their twelfth attempt and after a 71-year wait Team India conquered Australia finally.

Jubilant Indian head coach Ravi Shastri rated the Test series win as big as the 1983 World Cup win or even bigger than that because it is the Test format which is the toughest.

With the historic win, India strengthened their number one position in the ICC Test team ranking. They were on the top before the series began.

India had the best possible start as they won the tight opening Test in Adelaide by 31 runs. Australia bounced back, winning the Perth Test by 146 runs. It was a huge relief for the home side as they had not won a Test since the ball-tampering scandal.

But India took an unassailable lead in Melbourne, winning the third Test by 137 runs.

In the last Test in Sydney, Team India dominated as Australia faced follow-on and were on the brink of another humiliating defeat. The hosts were saved by rain on the fourth and the fifth day.

Australia badly missed the services of Steve Smith and David Warner who are serving one-year ban for ball tampering.

Overall, it was the worst series for the Aussies in all departments of the game. No Australian player scored a century in the series. Marcus Harris’s 79 in the final Test was the highest individual score from Australia. It was the lowest highest score for Australia in any series of two or more Tests in the last 100 years.

Harris remained the top scorer for Australia with 258 runs, averaging 36.85, with two fifties.

On the other hand, India’s batsmen scored five centuries, Cheteshwar Pujara hitting three of them.

The overall Australian batting average in the Test series was 24.61. India’s was 32.72.

Man-of-the-series Pujara proved himself the backbone of Indian batting. He scored 521 runs in the series, averaging 74.42, cracking three centuries and one fifty. It was his best-ever overseas series. He also hit his best score of 193 in the drawn fourth Test in Sydney after hundreds in Adelaide and Melbourne.

Pujara moved to the third position in the ICC Test batsmen rankings.

Wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant provided solid support in the middle order. He finished the series as the second highest run-scorer with 350 runs, ahead of captain Virat Kohli (282). He became the only Indian wicketkeeper to score a hundred in Australia and only the fourth Indian wicketkeeper to score over 150 in Tests. He was also impressive behind the wicket with 20 dismissals.

In the Adelaide Test, Pant equalled the world record of 11 catches by a wicketkeeper. The first two to do so were England’s Jack Russell and South Africa’s AB de Villiers. He broke the record of Wriddhiman Saha who had taken 10 catches in a match.

In the batting chart, Pant moved from 41 to 17 — the highest ranking for any Indian wicket-keeper. Former Indian captain MS Dhoni’s highest Test ranking was 19.

Kohli is fortunate to have Indian history’s best fast bowling attack. The pacers provided full support to their batsmen, keeping the Aussie batsmen under pressure all the time. Besides Pujara and Pant, it was the consistency of the bowling that made the difference.

Jasprit Bumrah remained the most successful bowler of the series with 21 wickets, averaging just 17. Australian spinner Nathan Lyon also claimed 21 wickets but his average was 30.42.

The combined bowling average of Australia’s top three fast bowers — Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood — in this series was 30.90. Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami averaged just 21.62.

 

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Khurram Mahmood

Khurram Mahmood 2019

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