Silver lining of India's foreign Test tours

Source :SIFY
Last Updated: Sat, Jan 10th, 2015, 18:31:53hrs
Silver lining of India's foreign Test tours
First things first: Our foreign Tests nightmare continues and our fast bowlers look clueless on green pitches. Our spinners have totally lost their effectiveness and the tail just refuses to wag. That much is clear. That much was clear in the twin 0-4 Test whitewashes on English and Australian and soil in 2011-12.

However, there is one silver lining due to which we can hope for a much better performance on away Tests in the years to come and our young batting line-up has come good in the extreme conditions of Australia, South Africa, England and New Zealand in 2013-15.

There is much hope that in the future they may perform consistently much the way Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman did before 2011.

For one we crossed 400 in our first innings in every single Test of the tour. How many times has that happened? On top of that, the lowest score we were bowled out in the second innings is 224. That’s extremely rare on foreign soil.

The first revelation has been 26-year-old Virat Kohli. He scored a century each in the away tours of Australia (2011-12), South Africa (2013) and New Zealand (2014) to show that he has within him to become an all-time great.

However he has reached the stratosphere with this tour. He has scored close to 700 runs and hit four centuries. Without him there wouldn’t even have been a contest and we may have seen another totally one-sided whitewash.

More importantly, he has not been burdened by the captaincy. Tendulkar and Dravid both couldn’t handle captaincy in the long run. That is one of the reasons why MS Dhoni was so popular. As captain he became India’s No. 1 wicket-keeper, the best No. 7 Test batsman and the best ODI finisher in the business.

Kohli’s top six scores are outside the sub-continent as are 7 of his 10 centuries. The second revelation has been 26-year-old Ajinkya Rahane. He has also scored three centuries and all have been in 2014 and all outside the sub-continent. He has a 96 at Durban and an 81 at Brisbane.

His Test average is 69.7 in South Africa, 54 in New Zealand and 57 in Australia. While his career is too short to make long-term trends, it’s a great start. Then there’s 30-year-old Murali Vijay. He scored 402 runs in England and 482 runs in Australia. He has arrived on the Test scene. His 430 runs in the home series in Australia greatly helped our 4-0 whitewash.

Finally we have the debutant 22-year-old Lokesh Rahul. While he was looking all at sea in the first Test at Melbourne, he made it up with Sydney. His 262 ball 110 was a typical Test opener’s knock and he has shown that he has the technique to go far.

Interestingly 26-year-old Cheteshwar Pujara’s scores for the series read: 73, 21, 18, 43, 25 and 26. Now if these are the scores he comes out when he is out of form, one would like to know what will happen when he comes into form.

Pujara began the current leg of the foreign tour with great promise when he scored 153 off 270 balls against South Africa in Johannesburg in December 2013. In the whole match the lethal Dale Steyn got just one wicket in 56 overs.

Since then Pujara has been getting starts regularly but he has been unable to convert. Even in the 2014 England tour, his first five Test innings read: 38, 55, 28, 43 and 24. Despite what the score line reads, our Test batting hasn’t been this good in ages. And that’s one thing which has been sorted out.

In fact had the bowling not been so pathetic, then the series could have gone either way. That’s the real problem. All our fast bowlers come with great promise and then fade away.

The way our bowling was taken apart at Sydney in the second innings is symptomatic of a much larger problem.
Let's hope that the new Test captain and coach sort it out before we begin our next overseas Test tour.

Otherwise it will be one disappointment after another despite such brilliant batting.

The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at