India’s recent journey from zero to hero and back to zero

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Indian cricket lovers were down in the dumps on 19th December last year when Virat Kohli’s men were dismissed for 36 all out and lost the Adelaide Test by 8 wickets. But they fought back under Ajinkya Rahane winning the Melbourne Test, heroically drawing the Sydney Test and miraculously winning the Brisbane Test on 19th January this year to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

What a difference one month makes!

Being an incurable optimist I feel that India will do the same against England in the current series in India. Who knows? Cricket is a funny game. Can the Indian team repeat the miracle down under by winning the series against England after losing the Chennai Test by a big margin of 227 runs?

Just look at the contrast. In the thrilling Brisbane Test last month, a half strength Indian team beat a full strength Australia XI on foreign soil. Yesterday in the Chennai Test, a full strength Indian team lost miserably to England on home turf.

As Indian cricket fans are enveloped in gloom after being thrashed in the Chennai Test, let me inject some humour to cheer them up.

Just look at the meaningful name coincidences. To Indian bowlers Joe was the Root of all evil with his double century in his 100th Test while Ben Stokes (82 runs) displayed spectacular strokes. The English team included Jofra Archer who shot arrows at Indian batsmen while Ollie Pope delivered sermons!

But India fought back gamely on day-3, Sundar Washington’s stroke play was Sundar (good looking). Later Ravi Ashwin burnt a hole in English opener Rory Burns’ outfit by dismissing him first ball in the second innings.

Now to the one-sided Test match. England was lucky to win the toss and bat on an easy pitch to amass 578 (Root 218, Dom Sibley 87, Stokes 82).

India replied with 337 with Cheteshwar Pujara scoring 73, Rishabh Pant an aggressive 91 with 9 fours and 5 spectacular sixes and young Washington 85.

The pitch now favoured spin and India dismissed England for 178, off-spinner Ashwin claiming 6 for 61. Set a near impossible target of 420 India could muster only 192 (youthful opener Shubman Gill 50, Kohli 72) to lose by a big margin.

But do not despair fellow Indians. Just as India came back after a huge defeat in the first Test in Australia to win the series, the same could happen in India. Will history repeat itself?

The second Test starts on Saturday the 13th February also in Chennai followed by two more Tests in Ahmedabad.

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