Virat Kohli's record-breaking India side have a shot at true greatness as tougher 'Tests' await overseas

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Kohli's men are on a record-breaking spree. Image credit - Ishant/Twitter.,

Newly elected BCCI president Sourav Ganguly ensured that the maiden day-night Test for India against Bangladesh was played out amid much fanfare at the historic Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

All the stops were pulled out for the first-of-its-kind clash in India with the city of Kolkata turning pink in keeping with the theme of the pink-ball clash.

The participants of the maiden Test match between India and Bangladesh held 19 years ago were invited as special dignitaries, while even Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed flew in to witness historic occasion.

Such was the frenzy surrounding the encounter that tickets were sold out for the first four days, according to Ganguly.

In the end, the supporters with tickets for the third and fourth days might be feeling a little shortchanged after the hosts took just over two days to complete a resounding victory by an innings and 46 runs.

With the crushing win, India have now become the first team in history to win four consecutive Tests by a margin greater than an innings.

To add to that feat, Virat Kohli’s men have now won seven Tests on the trot, starting from their victory over West Indies in Antigua in August. This is now the longest winnings streak in the Test format for India.

One of the most remarkable statistics from India’s mammoth win over the Tigers was the fact that all 20 Bangladesh wickets to fall were claimed by pacers.

The thought of spinners taking a backseat to fast-bowlers in India would have been rightly scoffed at a few years ago, but such has been the incredible rise of India’s pace prowess that their latest exploits in Kolkata come as no real surprise.

While it was the experienced Ishant Sharma who claimed a five-for in the first innings, it was Umesh Yadav who performed that trick in the second innings.

There were only two wickets to show in the Test for India’s third pacer – Mohammed Shami – who has been stellar throughout the recent stretch of home domination.

It is now India’s 12th home Test series win on the bounce – another unprecedented achievement in the annals of the game’s history. It is safe to say that their place in the ICC World Test Championship final at Lord’s in 2021 is already assured after they took their tally to a perfect 360 points in seven matches.

There is now no argument over which Test outfit is the strongest in their respective home conditions, with India leaving their contemporaries in their wake. However, Kohli’s men now have a real chance at greatness if they can translate this same success to overseas Test tours.

India’s next home Test engagements will now only come in February 2021 against England, but it is the upcoming tour of New Zealand and later Australia that are now of paramount importance.

Head coach Ravi Shastri had proudly claimed last year that the current crop was the best Indian travelling team of recent eras.

That tall claim had come while No1 ranked India were being thrashed 4-1 in England and as such, was justifiably derided by fans and pundits alike. Now, though, there is an excellent opportunity for Shastri’s team to back up that bold statement as an overseas stretch awaits.

There is no reason why India cannot emerge victorious in New Zealand and Australia and they have all the necessary tools in their armoury to do so.

They already attained a maiden Test series win Down Under last year, though beating an Australia side with No1 ranked Steve Smith and David Warner back in the fray will be a far greater accomplishment.

Their pace attack is arguably second to none and the statistics across the last two years is a glowing testament.

The recent pace domination over South Africa and Bangladesh has come without the injured Jasprit Bumrah, who is still to play a Test on home soil.

Their spin-duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja is also the most prolific among all the attacks in the world.

In skipper Kohli, they have a determined man challenging Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar’s legacies as India’s best-ever Test batsman while Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane are as solid a batting spine as they come.

They have now found a reliable and at the same time, prolific, opener in Mayank Agarwal while Rohit Sharma has also taken an extreme liking to the same position.

While Rohit’s overseas credentials are still to be tested, India genuinely have the most complete and balanced Test outfit in the business today.

Doing the business in New Zealand and Australia, however, is a different matter and it is those tours that could well define Kohli and his team’s Test legacy.

Win those, and there is an argument to be made for them to be spoken in the same breath as the mighty West Indies teams of the 1970s, or the all-conquering Australia outfits led by Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting.

Lose them, and India might just end up being a ‘great side’ who fell some way short of bring a truly elite team. The signs right now are extremely encouraging, and it time for Kohli’s men to strike the iron while it is hot.

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