By Rahul Sadhu
The last time India played 13 Tests at home in one season was back in 1979-80. Back then, India hosted Australia, Pakistan and England. Whereas, in the 2016-17 season it featured New Zealand (three Tests), England (five) and Australia (four) and Bangladesh.
Out of the thirteen Tests, India won 10 of them and secured two draws (one against England and the other against Australia). However, they suffered only one defeat at the hands of Australia in Pune by a massive 333 runs which also broke their unbeaten streak. But this was not before India had set a new record of winning 19 Tests on the trot. Except for the series against Australia, where India were pushed to their limits, the hosts defeated all the other teams comprehensively. As India notched up one victory after another, records kept tumbling. At the end of a wonderful season of Tests matches spanning over four months we present to you a look at some of the mind-boggling numbers that Team India and its players have set.
* After the series victory against Australia, India (Dec 2007-Mar 2017) became the third team after South Africa and Australia to register a win against all nine opponents simultaneously.
* In the list of most consecutive Test series wins by teams India is now at the 7th spot. Only England (1884-92) and Australia (2005-08) have more successive series wins – nine each. The win at Dharamsala was also the 26th win for India against Australia which is the most for them against any opposition.
* Since June 2015, India have been on a roll and this can be gauged from statistics which reveal that India has played a total of 25 tests out of which they have won 17, drawn 6 and lost only 2.
While skipper Virat Kohli may have lauded all his players for bringing in the success we cannot ignore some of the stand out performances.
It is not possible to win a Test without picking up 20 wickets and herein the pacers along with the spin twins – Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin played a crucial role.
Ravindra Jadeja, who became the first left-arm Indian spinner to win a Man of the Series award in Tests, picked up 71 wickets and also scored 556 runs with the bat in the entire season. That he had a good time with the bat, can be figured out from the fact that out of the seven fifties that Jadeja’s has hit in Test cricket, six have come this season. Ravindra Jadeja also became the 10th Indian to do the Test double of 1,000+ runs and 100+ wickets. As of now he deservedly stands out as the best bowler in Test cricket.
Not far behind him was R Ashwin who picked the most number of wickets in a Test season by foxing 82 batsman. He also scored 464 runs with his willow. Together, Ashwin and Jadeja picked up a mind-boggling 153 wickets and amassed more than 1000 runs.
However, they are not only the only ones to perform as some of the brilliant batting was on display by skipper Kohli and the ‘wall’ of Indian cricket – Cheteshwar Pujara.
No Indian cricketer has dominated the opposition bowlers the way Virat Kohli has in the past couple of years. But, after slamming four double hundreds in four consecutive series, the Indian captain did struggle to score some runs in the ongoing Test series against Australia. However, he ended the season with a phenomenal tally of 1,252 runs.
However, it is Cheteshwar Pujara who took up the mantle and led the charts with an astounding numbers. With 1,316 runs so far, Pujara now leads the list of Indian batsmen with most Test runs in a season and is placed second overall. Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting holds the record of most Test runs in a season with the 1,483 runs he scored during the 2005-06 season. Courtesy of his tally Pujara also broke the record of Gautam Gambhir who had scored 1,269 runs in the 2008-09 season.
Earlier, Pujara amassed a staggering 373 runs with an average of 74 in the three-Test series against New Zealand. During the five-Test series against England, Pujara also scored 401 runs at an average of 50.
The one last piece of the jigsaw puzzle of success was solved when wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha stepped up to the fore and delivered when it mattered most. Apart from his excellent glove work behind the stumps, Saha’s contribution with the bat proved decisive. Courtesy of his good knock in the first innings of the Dharamsala Test, he entered a special club of Indian wicket-keepers to score more than 1,000 runs. Only Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Syed Kirmani, Farokh Engineer, Nayan Mongia and Kiran More stand out as the other Indian wicket-keepers who have gone past 1,000 runs in Tests.
In the 10 matches he played in the season Saha scored 441 crucial runs for his team. More important than that were the circumstances in which he scored them. His average too remained at an impressive 44.10 as he notched up two hundreds and two fifties as well and was also rewarded with one man of the match performance.
Hence, it was not just one but all the departments coming together which brought about an impressive performance from the Indian side and truly the numbers say why the hosts went on to dominate this season.
ICC Test ranking
South Africa 107
New Zealand 98
Sri Lanka 90
West Indies 69