Nice one India, but you’ve still got to beat Pakistan’s record
India are the worst subcontinent team at adapting their game outside Asia, despite humbling Australia at home
For all India’s well-earned pride about winning a Test series in Australia for the first time, they are the worst subcontinent team at adapting their game outside Asia.
Who are the best? You can see them in action at the Wanderers this week.
India have won 73.33% of their Tests in Asia since 2010, and 35.29% in the rest of the world. That’s a difference of 38.04% – the biggest travel gap among the subcontinent sides.
The smallest is 12.22% and it belongs to Pakistan, who play SA in Johannesburg on Friday in the third Test of a rubber the home side have already won.
Part of India’s problem is that they have played only 17 Tests outside Asia since 2010, and so have limited experience on pitches that don’t suit their strengths. In the same period Pakistan have played 35 matches properly away and Sri Lanka 28.
But the Indians deserve their moment in the sun, and they’re taking it – as well as sharing the love with SA and England.
“For us this tour didn’t start in Australia,” India coach Ravi Shastri told reporters in Sydney.
“It started 12 months ago in South Africa, where we decided to play a certain brand of cricket and experiment with combinations in order to find out what suits the team best. We learnt a lot in South Africa and England.
“We also made mistakes there and learnt from them and didn’t repeat them in Australia.”
Virat Kohli concurred: “We focused on the things we did not do well. We laid out a lot of those things on the table and no one took offence to anything and rectified their mistakes. We were better than the opposition in those areas. That’s the progress we made. We always had the right intent and that’s why we have been rewarded with this win.”
SA beat India 2-1 and England thumped them 4-1 in series last year that were played in conditions designed to test to the limit – and sometimes beyond – the abilities of players who had grown up on Asian surfaces.
India’s 2-1 win on Australia’s pitches, currently the fairest in world cricket, was proof that they had passed those tests.
The result has also fuelled a squabble between Michael Vaughan and Mark Waugh over currently banned ball-tamperers David Warner and Steve Smith, who also happen to be two of the best batters in the game. They will regain their eligibility on March 28.
“I cannot see Australia beating England this summer unless they assess themselves brutally,” Vaughan wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
“Batting techniques have to be better and they need to be more consistent with the ball. Every facet of their Test team has to improve. They are kidding themselves if they think everything will be rosy when Smith and Warner come back.”
Waugh weighed in on Twitter: “I’m not so sure about that Mr Vaughan. Assuming Warner and Smith get back to somewhere near their best I’m suggesting they will make a huge difference. You take the two best batsmen out of any cricket team in the world and see what happens, or even one: Kohli, [Joe] Root, [Kane] Williamson etc.”
Enter Sunil Gavasakar: “It’s not India’s fault that this Australian team was without David Warner and Steve Smith. Australia could have handed them shorter bans. India played the opposition they were presented with and it’s a great achievement for this Indian team.”
Indeed, it is. Cheteshwar Pujara’s three centuries had people confusing one of the most exciting people yet born, Che Guevara, with one of the most unexciting cricketers yet to pick up a bat.
More pertinently, Indians scored all of the series’ five centuries. They also took more than half the wickets that fell to bowlers – 70 of 131. Fifty of the scalps the Indians claimed, or 71.43%, belonged to their seamers.
So Shastri and Kohli are correct in that lessons have been learnt. Now they can get on with closing the gap between India and the other subcontinent sides when they are taken out of their comfort zone.