India has managed a thumping away series win against Sri Lanka, and consolidated their No. 1 ranking at the top. That said, the effort deserves little praise as the Lankans are an extremely weak side who are a meek shadow of the legendary side with names like Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara.
The reason I say that their status is overhyped is because, I don’t think Indians have proved themselves to be a fearsome Test team in all conditions. They were battered black and blue, on their last tour to England and Australia. And even though, the Indian team avenged their defeat by winning against those two teams at home, their victory margins weren’t as comprehensive as they needed to be. In fact, they could have lost the series against Australia, had a few decisions not gone their way.
Even Pakistan – which doesn’t have a great Test team, are a force to reckon with when they play matches in UAE. New Zealand, England, Australia, South Africa – all these teams are expected to win when they play in their own backyard. If India won all their Test series at home, they shouldn’t be given straight As – they just met what was expected from them.
If India wants to be recognized as one of the best teams of all times – like the West Indies team with four frontline fast bowlers, or the Australian team in the Steve Waugh-Ricky Ponting era, they need to start dominating away from home as well. Face swing bowlers like James Anderson on a green wicket with elan.
I am not saying there is another team in the world, which has been as consistent or deserves the No. 1 spot more than India. But, certainly, that doesn’t imply India is ticking all the right boxes. If you don’t believe me, just look at what Sunil Gavaskar (one of India’s best Test batsmen) had to say about India’s lack of away victories.
“That’s (winning overseas) what we always want to do, that’s the test we set ourselves as players. We are familiar with home conditions. It is great that we do well at home, it is pretty much expected. But winning overseas is a completely different satisfaction. It’s a greater satisfaction that in conditions that you are not used to, you have done well,” Gavaskar was quoted as saying by PTI.
In January 2018, India will tour South Africa for a four Test match series. It’ll be interesting to see how India performs in a 5-day contest there. If they win that series, I can say that India deserve all the praise that they have been getting. Until then, Virat Kohli and his men will do well to stay humble.
Image courtesy: Indian Cricket Team’s Page On Facebook