India won a fascinating Test series vs England 4-0 with five starting players injured, four tosses lost, thrice the opposition scoring 400 or more scores, two innings defeats and one Test drawn. Ask any fan and if Men in Blue start a Test series at Australia scoring 537 runs in the first innings of first Test, there is no way India would be losing that series this heavily. Hence Virat Kohli’s and co batted, bowled, fielded brilliantly to take injuries, pitches, tosses out of the equation and win all 50:50 battles and ensure a 18 Tests unbeaten run. As it happens, anytime a subcontinent team does well at home, questions arise of their away record. When Australia or England win a home series 4-0, they are worthy World No.1’s but if Pakistan or India do the same, skeptics wake up.
I tried digging data on which is the Test team that is indeed proving themselves worthy by winning overseas more regularly than India. The answers are revealing. As inspirational thinker Anthony J. D’Angelo famously said once ‘Reality doesn’t bite, rather our perception of reality bites’. The table below illustrates how India’s away record is better than that of its rivals over the past two years ie from 23 Dec 2014 to 23 Dec 2016.
|Teams||Away tests (last 2 yrs)||Won||Lost||Draw||Success percent
1 (win) 0.5 (draw)
|Runs per wicket|
Australia away record past two years
Australia won six out of the twelve away Tests they played last two years, losing six also in the process. They have won at West Indies (so too have India), lost and won at England, lost badly at Sri Lanka (where India won) and won at New Zealand. They have a 50% winning and 50% losing away record during this phase.
Pakistan away record past two years
Pakistan won five out of the twelve away Tests they played last two year, losing six Tests. They have won and lost at Sri Lanka (so too have India), lost and won (very credible) at England, lost badly at New Zealand and just lost a close Test at Australia. They have a 44% winning and 50% losing away record during this phase.
South Africa away record past two years
The Proteas have won just two of the nine away Tests they played over the last two years, losing four Tests during this period. They drew Tests at Bangladesh (so too have India), lost heavily at India and lost and won (very credible) Tests at Australia. They have a 23% winning and 45% losing away record during this phase. The two away wins were at Australia, but have lost four too, including three in India.
England away record past two years
The Poms won four out of the fourteen away Tests they played last two years and lost seven. They have won and lost at West Indies, South Africa (very credible) and Bangladesh and lost badly at India. They have a 29% winning and 50% losing away record during this phase.
India’s away record past two years
Virat Kohli’s men have won four out of the ten Tests they played over the last two years, losing just one close game at Sri Lanka. They drew (credibly) two Tests at Australia, one at Bangladesh, won and lost at Sri Lanka and won at West Indies. That’s 40% winning and 10% losing away record during this phase.
So while Pakistan drawing a series at England, or England winning a series at South Africa or South Africa winning at Australia are very credible results, two of these three teams got heavily battered in India. Each of them have also lost Test matches either at Sri Lanka or West Indies or Bangladesh. So just one good away series win in two years doesn’t really make them the best around. It’s a fact that in world cricket there is no team which is consistently winning overseas and in this matter, India losing just one Test over their last ten away Tests is credible.
It’s also worth noting that winning at Australia, England and South Africa is often taken as benchmark for identifying and respecting a good Test team. How about winning a Test series at India or Pakistan? Why losing Tests at Sri Lanka is not becoming a factor when a team is judged great just because they won at Australia or England? Till the time any team provides a consistent away record, India deservedly are right up there. They have five more home Test matches vs Bangladesh and Australia in Feb-Mar 2017 and a chance to further widen the already massive gap between number 1 and 2 in the ICC Test rankings. Go Virat, Ashwin and Co!