While Sachin Tendulkar ended his career with the greatest amount of Test matches, runs and centuries in his 200th match, another statistical feat was achieved by the India XI that played the second Test versus West Indies in Mumbai.
In the team, a whopping 8 out of 11 batsmen ended the match with Test career averages of 38+, which is a rarity. That’s an India that bats really deep down the order. While a couple of batsmen have played just 2-3 innings and you may find that a bit farcical, it’s still an oddity.
Rohit Sharma (288), Shikhar Dhawan (81), Cheteshwar Pujara (65.5), Sachin Tendulkar (53.8), Virat Kohli (41.1), Ravichandran Ashwin (40.5), MS Dhoni (39.4) and Murli Vijay (38.2).
(Interestingly Sir Ravindra Jadeja would have become the 9th batsman in place of Pragyan Ojha had he not been injured. As far as the bench goes, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir haven’t officially retired yet and their averages are 49.3 and 44.2 respectively.)
The biggest transformation in anyone’s career has to be Rohit. Not only has he hit two back to back centuries in Test cricket (the second Indian after Sourav Ganguly), but his previous international knock before that was the brutal 209 in the last ODI versus Australia. That’s a unique hat-trick for him.
His Mumbai century was remarkable in more ways than one. When the ninth wicket fell, Rohit was on just 46 and the crowd probably wondered whether he would get his half-century in the first place.
What’s more, in his first 100 ODIs, Rohit had just one century against a Top 8 team! Rohit is one late bloomer and how!
The bowling averages at the end of the Test also make for some interesting reading. Mohammed Shami has to be the find of the series. After two Tests, Shami has a bowling average of 16.5. Usually such figures are reserved for fast bowlers only on fast pitches.
Another remarkable fact is that out of the 11 Test dismissals, 7 were bowled.
Ashwin set a personal milestone when he picked up 100 wickets in 18 Tests breaking the 44-year-old record of EAS Prasanna, who did it in 20 Tests. He also has a pretty good bowling average of 27.5
Pragyan Ojha was not far behind in the bowling honours. He took a 5-wicket haul in both innings and also has a decent bowling average of 30.3.
With an injured Jadeja and an Amit Mishra on the bench, our spin department on home soil is looking as good as it did in the days of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
Another trend continued with foreign spinners doing well on Indian soil. In the last year alone Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar and Nathan Lyon picked up 5-wicket hauls. Now Shane Shillingford also joins the club with two back to back fivers.
On the whole the Indian team looked quite balanced and that’s why we could beat West Indies inside of 3 days.
The only person who seems to have missed out is Bhuvneshwar Kumar but he will be eagerly waiting for the South African tour which will give him a lot of assistance.
There were more landmarks as MS Dhoni crossed 250 dismissals (catches and stumpings) in Tests, becoming the first Indian to do so. He is also closing in on 300 dismissals in ODIs.
As a captain he has hit a quarter century in Test wins and he has time to make up for the 0-7 overseas Test loss debacle.
Of course, now the celebrations are over. Sachin is out of the way and the rest of the team have revelled in home records.
Now we head to play world champions South Africa which boasts of a solid batting line-up, a lethal pace attack and green tops to make you forget that you ever played on flat sub-continent pitches.
What a contrast!
But with a young batting and bowling attack who have already delivered the goods on home soil in Tests and ODIs abroad, there is much to hope for.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.