The Indian Test juggernaut continues to roll as Virat Kohli’s troops ended their 2019 Test season in record-breaking fashion.
Since securing their maiden Test series win in Australia with a draw at Sydney, India won seven consecutive games to finish the year unbeaten in the longer format. With the series victory against Bangladesh, India have now won an unprecedented 12 consecutive home series.
They would be the top ranked team in ICC Test rankings for 39 consecutive months by the end of this year. India also ventured into day-night cricket in the longer form for the first time when they defeated Bangladesh in a pink-ball game in the final Test of 2019.
At the end of the season, India sit pretty at the top of the inaugural ICC Test Championship table with six wins and 360 points.
Here, we take a look at their impressive performances this year.
Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma were the stalwarts of the batting order.
Currently, among Test batsmen, all five of those are ranked in the Top 20 of the ICC Test rankings. With such an effective batting order, India were able to declare at least once in every Test they played in 2019.
The rookie opener Agarwal has firmly established himself as the mainstay at the top of the order. He is the highest run-getter among the batsmen, scoring 754 runs from 11 innings at an average of 68.54.
KL Rahul’s failure to score big runs paved the way for Rohit Sharma. He was promoted to open the innings during the series against South Africa and Bangladesh, and the 32-year-old grabbed the opportunity.
He scored 556 runs in six innings, bettering Don Bradman’s home average at one point. He scored at quite a clip too, finishing with a strike rate of 75.95. Sharma brought his six-hitting prowess to Tests as well, smashing 20 maximums this year.
Cheteshwar Pujara had a modest year compared to his own lofty standards. He had an average of 46.09 and scored one century and four fifties.
The Indian skipper Kohli had yet another fine campaign with the bat as he achieved a career-best (254*) score. He amassed 612 runs at a healthy average of 68.
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane was the second highest run-scorer in the team, raking up 642 runs. He brought up his first Test hundred at home in three years when he rescued India after they lost three quick wickets against the Proteas at Ranchi.
The 31-year-old also scored a crucial second innings ton against the West Indies at North Sound in August.
This extraordinarily reliable batting unit afforded India the luxury to play five bowlers and that led their most dominant home wins towards the end of the year.
After double tons from Mayank Agarwal, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, India became the first Team in Test history to register four consecutive individual double hundreds.
Notably, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja enjoyed a productive season with the bat, scoring 440 runs in 11 innings.
Fast bowlers reign supreme
Mohammed Shami, India’s highest wicket-taker in 2019, was the only bowler who played in all the eight Tests. He picked up 33 wickets at an average of 16.65.
He became the first Indian fast bowler in 23 years to pick up a fifer in the second innings of a home Test when he ran through the South African batting order at Vishakhapatnam.
The 29-year-old has mastered the art of reverse swing and is the only bowler in the world in the last two years to take three five-wicket hauls in the second innings.
Ishant Sharma, who is edging towards playing 100 Tests for his country, took 25 wickets at an average of 15.56. He became the first Indian bowler to pick up a fifer in a day-night Test.
Umesh Yadav, possibly the most underrated bowler in India, finished the year strongly with remarkable performances against South Africa and Bangladesh. He played just four matches and finished with 23 wickets at an extraordinary strike-rate of 23.1.
The performances of Shami, Sharma and Yadav meant that India hardly missed their best bowler – Jasprit Bumrah, who had to sit out the home leg of the Test season due to a stress fracture.
However, at the start of the year, Bumrah was on fire, claiming 14 wickets from three games. The 25-year-old’s spell of five for seven against West Indies was the cheapest five-wicket haul for an Indian bowler.
During the Caribbean tour, the pacer also became the third Indian bowler to bag a Test hat-trick.
Ashwin managed the best figures by an Indian in 2019, when he finished with figures of seven for 145 against South Africa at Vishakhaptnam.
Virat Kohli’s aggressive captaincy
Kohli has led this talented group players with aplomb. His captaincy was assertive as he became the first ever skipper to win four consecutive Tests by a margin of an innings.
He also set an Indian record by winning seven Tests on the bounce this year. At home, he has won 20 of the 26 Tests he has played as captain.
India, who are all but assured of playing in the final of the ICC Test championship, will face stiffer challenges against Australia and New Zealand away next year, but on current form, nothing seems impossible for this Indian Test team.
Virat Kohli also becomes the first Indian captain to win 7 consecutive Test matches.— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) November 24, 2019
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