Humiliated in Australia only 19 days ago, Sri Lanka created shock waves by defeating South Africa in South Africa 2-0 in a Test series.
They became only the third country – after England and Australia – and the only Asian country – to win a Test series in South Africa.
What an incredible turnaround involving four countries – Australia, India, Sri Lanka and South Africa – in the last three months! Topsy-turvy results indeed.
India beat Australia 2-1 in the four-Test series in Australia. It could have been 3-1 but for rains in the final Sydney Test. Australia retaliated by thrashing Sri Lanka 2-0 in the 2-Test series in Australia.
Then Sri Lanka got back in their groove by beating South Africa 2-0 in another two-Test series in South Africa.
To me, the common factor in these results was: no century, no victory! Let me explain.
Three Indians scored five centuries in the series against Australia concluding in January 2019. Man of the Series Cheteshwar Pujara registered three of them; 123 in the first Test in Adelaide, 106 in the third Test in Melbourne and 193 in the fourth Test in Sydney.
Skipper Virat Kohli hit 123 in the second Test in Perth and wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant an unbeaten 159 in Sydney.
Not one Australian could register a hundred.
It was quite the reverse in the series against Sri Lanka. Four centuries were belted by four Aussie bats: Joe Burns 180, Travis Head 161, Kurtis Patterson 114 not out and Usman Khawaja 101 not out –in the Canberra Test.
Not one Sri Lankan could reach three figures in either Test. And Australia won the series 2-0 by huge margins.
Same pattern was noted when Sri Lanka toured South Africa this month. Man of the Series Sri Lanka’s Kusal Perera made a majestic and unbeaten 153 which resulted in a shock one-wicket win in the first Test in Durban.
But no South African could score a century in either Test to prove my theory of centuries contributing to victories in these successive Test series.
Has this ever happened before in three Test series involving four countries in succession?
Not that bowlers did not contribute to their countries’ recent victories: India’s Jasprit Bumrah against Australia, Australia’s Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc against Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka’s Suranga Lakmal against South Africa.
But the common contributing factor in these three Test series was: “No ton, no series won.”