While much has been written about the success of India’s spin kings Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindrasinh Anirudhsinh Jadeja, one also needs to consider how effective their batting is, especially on home soil.
Success in India requires some special ingredients. Unlike the Colonel’s secret herbs and spices, India’s special ingredients are no secret. They are in plain view for all to clearly see. For Indian Test players, with a minimum of 30 innings, three of their current top five are on the Indian all-time Test batting average top ten list.
Pujara sits third on that list, Kohli is fifth and Rahane makes the list at nine. The Australian equivalent would be a batting order with Matt Hayden (9), Steve Smith (3) and Ricky Ponting (5).
Clearly, it would be a very strong foundation for a batting line-up.
Add significant support from Murali Vijay and K Lokesh Rahul, the latter who at age 24 already has four Test hundreds to his name, and its easy to see why they win at home, and often. It isn’t just because visiting teams are unfamiliar with the conditions. It’s because India bat and bat long.
To complete their top six, India doesn’t play silly games with a player like our Mitch Marsh Marsh has a FC average of 28 with four hundreds from 117 innings.
No, they bring in K K Nair (FC average of 52 with nine hundreds from 43 innings) who in his third Test innings, scored an unbeaten triple century.
If that isn’t enough run scoring coverage, their wicket-keeper and specialist spinners all average over 30 in Tests at home.
This Test we have seen first hand just how dangerous their batting can be. 451 isn’t a bad first innings score, yet at stumps on day four, India looked well placed to win and possibly by some margin.
Heck, they even dared do this without their captain and batting ace, Virat Kohli, getting to double figures. Only a very disciplined and committed effort by our middle order, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb in particular, saved us from a second consecutive loss after being in a strong position.
The scary part is, we knew India’s batting was very capable of setting up a victory in this Test. Had we forgotten, we didn’t need to travel back in time very far to be reminded.
The English Test side will have nightmares about India’s batting after their recent tour of the subcontinent. After drawing the first Test, England lost the last four Tests, despite winning all bar one of the tosses. The final two Tests of that series were merciless and brutal displays of India’s might. Batting first, England scored 400 in Mumbai only to lose by an innings and 36 runs.
They then batted first in Chennai, scoring 477 yet still lost by an innings and 75 runs. Despite significant scoreboard pressure, India responded with 631 and 7/759 respectively and in doing so, turned both games on their heads.
Today’s result, and believe me, a draw is one hell of a result for our Australian side in this game, probably won’t put even the slightest dent in the confidence of this Indian side at home, but it will do wonders for our confidence away.
In a dry and regularly barren land, we can now believe. No longer is 2004 merely a mirage in the desert.
Not just in dominant victories when our tails are up, but also in gutsy, fighting saves, when the pressure is on and our opponents are well on top. Its also rather nice to be reminded that we aren’t England.