Highs-lows, Twists and Turns, 365 days embracing intriguing cricket. This is what perhaps the exact way of describing the bygone year for Indian cricket. 2021 was special and surely new novel. Let’s unbox 2021 and relish the marvel it holds.
Test-cricket heart is beating hard, it’s beating true, they were down, they were out and India have risen………
Sydney Test: The Perfect Start of the Year:
We started 2021 at SCG to play the third test of Border-Gavaskar trophy 2020-21. Two nations, India & Australia, were in unison once again via one obsession which was Competitive Cricket. This series wasn’t ordinary keeping in mind how things had started off in Adelaide and all the drama that circumscribed it. Little did we know what we were to witness in near future. India had a humiliating defeat in its first test against Australia riding on the back of their horrendous batting debacle of ridiculing 36-9.
Thereafter not only their captain had gone for the birth of his first child, they lost their pace gun Mohammad Shami as well. All the media were up and armed against India, writing them completely off the table against the mighty Aussies. It would have taken India an absolutely out of the world comeback to win this series and retain their trophy.
One year to "See you at the Gabba Ash" 🍿#OnThisDay in 2021 – R Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari fought to secure a remarkable draw for India at the SCG 👏
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) January 11, 2022
Making a Statement at the MCG:
Nobody at their sanest minds could have thought this could happen for real. With a heavy heart and Adelaide baggage we moved to Melbourne to find some light amidst the spiral web of darkness.
What we saw at the dawn at ‘G’ was a band of brothers determined as always walking out right into the middle with a statement of ‘we would live for each other, die for each other, play for each other and perhaps bleed for each other’.
And to all our astonishment MCG was beautifully set for us as the standing captain Ajinkya Rahane with his impressive knock of 112 helped India install their first win in the series. With scoreboard showing 1-1 we moved to Sydney.
At SCG after the fall of the two half-centurions, India had to go for the draw as Vihari injured his hamstring and it really wasn’t an easy pitch to bat on.
4th Innings stats from the Sydney Test:
Most overs batted out by India in 4th innings in draws
150.5 v Eng Oval 1979
136.0 v WI Kolkata 1948/49
132.0 v WI Mumbai BS 1958/59
131.0 v Pak Delhi 1979/80
131.0 v Aus Sydney 2020/21 *
Most overs batted out by Asian teams in 4th innings in draws in Australia
131.0 Ind Sydney 2020/21 *
89.5 Ind Sydney 2014/15
85.0 SL Cairns 2004
75.0 Ind Adelaide 1980/81
– 131 overs are the greatest number of overs India have batted in the fourth innings of a Test since 1980.
This is the best format, undoubtedly! A perfect Test and we have no winner.
Good luck explaining this to someone who doesn’t know anything about cricket! An incredible Test at the SCG which ebbed and flowed.
— Sportskeeda (@Sportskeeda) January 19, 2022
Still Hard to believe what India did in Gabba:
Finally, we reached to Gabba to witness the final history that was to be created in no-time, and at the least expectation of everyone. For Australia, it was their first choice, whereas India had their last eleven men standing – and they emerged victorious.
They’ve breached Gabbatoir – Australia’s pride no longer.
From time immemorial the mighty Aussies had led the opposition into Gabba to slaughter them but history had changed, course of the flowing river had changed. Our youngsters did not care what history Gabba bounded, they had simply breached it and how!
Let’s look at some stats from Gaba, the 4th Test:
Australia’s streaks that have been ended by India:
- 16 consecutive Test wins – 2001 in Kolkata & 2008 in Perth
- First and only Asian side to win at WACA in 2008
- 19 consecutive ODI wins at home – 2016 in Sydney
- 32 years unbeaten at Gabba between 1989 & 2020
“Never underestimate the power of a man when he is up-against the world!” The Aussies took the Indian team for granted and this very team of India at last proved to be too much for them.
You rage! I succeed, we all have our ways…………
Next in line we had England tour of India that would have 4tests, 3ODIs, 5T-20s. The first test at MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai, India lost the match by 227 runs where they were absolutely outplayed by Joe Root batting prowess and Anderson bowling masterclass.
Virat Kohli has now lost his last four Tests as captain – the most he has lost in succession. In the seven Tests prior to that he had won seven in a row, the longest such sequence for an Indian captain.
Most consecutive wins by visiting sides in Asia
7 Australia (2002-04)
6 England (2018-21) *
No other instances of more than three successive win
Making a comeback was a habit in 2021 for India:
India made a stellar comeback in the upcoming tests by capitalizing on the rank turner pitches which always have been our forte at home and winning it against England secured their places alongside New-Zealand to play the World Test Championship at Southampton, England.
There may not have been a better Test innings in 2021 than Rohit Sharma's splendid 161 on a turning track in Chennai #ESPNcricinfoAwards
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) January 20, 2022
We heard a lot on our rank turner pitches by the pundits of the game but every argument was put to rest when Ashwin at press conference had very correctly pointed out how India never complained about overseas green tops (England) and bouncy tracks (Australia), minefields at SA given to us time and again. What we did instead was made ourselves equipped to fight there!
Spinners taking five-fer on Test debut for India
5/64 – VV Kumar v Pak, Delhi 1960/61
6/103 – D Doshi v Aus, Chennai 1979/80
8/61 & 8/75 – N Hirwani v WI, Chennai 1987/88
5/71 – Amit Mishra v Aus, Mohali 2008/09
6/47 – R Ashwin v WI, Delhi 2011/12
5/60 – Axar Patel v Eng, Chennai 2020/21
Biggest Test wins for India (by runs)
337 vs SA Delhi 2015/16
321 vs NZ Indore 2016/17
320 vs Aus Mohali 2008/09
318 vs WI North Sound 2019 317 vs Eng Chennai 2020/21
304 vs SL Galle 2017- Five of the top six wins coming under Virat Kohli’s captaincy
India’s Challenge jumping on the English Conditions:
Later in the year after losing the WTC, India came back harder at English boys at their den and once again created history at lords by breaching the second fortress for the given year. KL Rahul was brilliant in the first innings in tough batting conditions. But the biggest plus for India in this game would be Pujara and Rahane spending quality time in the middle and getting runs under immense pressure.
A century that put KL Rahul on the Lord's honours board and set up victory for India at the Home of Cricket 👏#ESPNcricinfoAwards
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) January 22, 2022
People were calling for their heads. But they put on a brilliant, match-changing 100-run stand. Kohli scored 42 in the first innings, but looked scratchy. But his 20-run stay in the second innings looked much better, middling the ball most times. The trio were criticized for the lack of runs, but the fight they showed in this game will definitely boost that dressing room.
Indian captains to win the Lord’s Test
1986: Kapil Dev
2014: MS Dhoni
2021: Virat Kohli
Most Test wins as captain
53/109 Graeme Smith
48/77 Ricky Ponting
41/57 Steve Waugh
37/63 Virat Kohli *
36/74 Clive Lloyd
Then 2021 came to a bang on end with comprehensively winning against Kiwis at home and breaching the third fortress for the year at centurion and all Indian fans were like what more do we want- nothing!
Tests won in Brisbane, Lord's, The Oval and Centurion, 2021 must count as the best year in India's Test history. And that despite losing the WTC final.
— Sambit Bal (@sambitbal) January 1, 2022
Everything is not gold and all is not glitter:
Despite of the fact that this was the best year of Indian cricketing history especially in red-ball we did find our anti-climaxes in WTC and World t-20 at UAE.
The Black spot at World Test Championship:
It was on the morning of the reserve day that India failed to offer themselves a chance to keep one hand on the mace. They might not have ICC-stamped evidence of their top billing but would like to believe they were still arguably the most complete side in Test cricket, capable of competing around the world with a bowling attack to kill for. Despite the defeat, India remained a very good Test side, just not good enough on the day.
Most runs in WTC Cycle 1:
1675 Marnus Labuschagne
1660 Joe Root
1341 Steven Smith
1334 Ben Stokes
1159 Ajinkya Rahane
1094 Rohit Sharma
PS: It hurts a little less when the nicest guys in the sport win it. 🙂
— Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) June 23, 2021
Most wickets in WTC Cycle 1
71 R Ashwin
70 Pat Cummins
69 Stuart Broad
56 Tim Southee
56 Nathan Lyon
48 Josh Hazelwood
Failure at World T-20 in UAE:
India boasted the world’s best T20 league, in pure cricketing terms, but that staggering wealth of strategizing and innovation hadn’t permeated into the national team. The failure to learn from the IPL had been apparent in this World cup at several fonts. Last but not least, the constant bubble life and the two-phase IPL had tired the Indian team out. They were listless and fatigued and desperately looking for a break by the time World cup had arrived.
Even though, we could easily use that as an excuse, the fact that stood out firmly that the team was required to have a makeover in the shortest format of the game.
Kohli stepped down from T-20 and was sacked off ODI captaincy:
To free up the pressure from the shoulders, after stepping down from the RCB captaincy, Virat Kohli announced to leave the T-20 captaincy to in an order to put more time on the other two formats. But, bit of worst connection and few unknown reasons seemed to be the reason behind his sacking from the 50-over game.
Looking at Year 2022:
India will love to win their maiden Test series in South Africa; winning the 5th Test of the last England series and also love to end the drought of the ICC trophy during the T-20 World Cup later this year in Australia.