Winning an overseas test match requires a lot of skill, passion, dedication and commitment. An overseas test match not only tests the physical attributes of a player, but also the mental strength as the individual has to perform in alien conditions where the crowd support too is minimal. Thereby, winning an overseas test is at times considered to be the ultimate challenge in cricket.
When the terms overseas test matches and Team India are associated together, everyone knows why. It is solely because of team India’s disastrous performance in test matches played away from home. Since December 2013, the Indians have played 15 tests away from home, and agonizingly have won just one solitary test, played at the Lord’s. This piece of stat pretty much summarizes the harsh times endured by the Indians, who at times are all at sea
But do these stats depict the true actual story? Well, the answer to that question shall always remain in hindrance. While it is said that at the end of the day results matter the most, but what about the level of cricket played? What about the stellar displays provided by Indians in losing causes? Shall they go unnoticed? Surely not, as despite losing games, the Indians have provided great fight and grit in overseas test matches in recent times.
In this article, we rewind the time, and have a look at those close test matches which feature team India in recent times. The phrase “so near yet so far” is absolutely apt for the below mentioned tests.
1. India Vs Sri Lanka (Galle 2015):
The most recent game featuring Virat Kohli and his lads surely resulted in a billion heartbreaks. The Indians were in control of the game for the first three days, before Dinesh Chandimal single handedly changed the course of the match. Despite Chandimal’s heroics, the target wasn’t a steep one, and should have been chased down. But Rangana Herath, who was being written off after the first innings, simply demolished the Indian batting with 7 scalps. The target of 176 was made to look way too steep as the Indians were rolled over for 112. Considering the fact that India had a first innings lead of 192, this loss is surely the most painful one in recent times.
2. India Vs Australia (Adelaide 2014):
This test marked Virat Kohli’s debut as the test captain. Like his batting style, his captaincy approach remained the same, as he was aggressive throughout the course of the game. The test seemed to be headed for a draw till the 4th afternoon. But then, as a courtesy of two aggressive forces in the form of Michael Clarke and Virat Kohli clashing, a seriously close test was put on display. On the last day, the Indians were given a target of 364. Traditionally, fans would have expected India to head for safety and a draw. But Kohli being captain fearless went for the kill. The 185 run third wicket stand between him and M.Vijay put Clarke’s plans in jeopardy, as India needed just 159 runs to win in the third session with 37 overs still to go. But things went profusely haywire as Vijay was trapped LBW for 99. Kohli did get to his second ton in the match, but losing partners at the other end did not help his cause. Kohli was eventually dismissed for 141, and the Indian tail didn’t resist a bit. Australia won the game by a stinging margin of just 48 runs. It must be noted that in India’s fourth innings, opener Shikhar Dhawan, and middle order batsman Ajinkya Rahane received blunders from the umpires.
3. India Vs New Zealand (Auckland 2014):
Another test match, another 4th innings collapse which resulted in a nail biting finish! The Kiwis batted first and were rocked early, before Brendon McCullum scored an impressive double ton. When India’s first innings ended, they had conceded New Zealand a first innings lead of 301. All the New Zealanders were in favour of enforcing the follow on. But McCullum opted to bat again, and got the shock of his life as the hosts were bundled out for just 105. India had to chase 408 to win the match and create history. Shikhar Dhawan looked way too firm while batting and made a brilliant 4th innings ton. Virat Kohli too played an aggressive knock of 67. Till lunch on the 4th day, India were 180-2 and in the driver’s seat. But once Kohli was dismissed there was a collapse and some really poor umpiring. MS Dhoni was given out on a clear no ball while Ajinkya Rahane was given out LBW when he had a thick inside edge! The Indians fell just 40 runs short as Dhawan’s heroics were in vain.
4. India Vs New Zealand (Wellington 2014):
This was the second test in the exhilarating series played between the two sides. New Zealand batted first, and were dismissed within 2 sessions flat. The Indians began steadily and buoyed by Dhawan’s 98 and Rahane’s 118, got a first innings lead of 246. On the third morning, Zaheer Khan displayed a lethal spell as the Kiwis were reduced to 94-5. From there on, Watling and McCullum staged a miraculous recovery as the Indians were resisted well. McCullum played the innings of his life and became the first New Zealander to score a triple ton in test cricket. Watling too made a fine ton and partnered McCullum for 510 mins. McCullum’s vigil ended on 302, and batted for almost 13 hours! The game ended in a draw as the Indians batted to save the game. Even though this game didn’t produce a result, it is apt to include this in the article, as despite having their noses well ahead, some poor catching meant that a rare overseas win was missed by India.
5. India Vs South Africa (Johannesburg 2013):
The test marked India’s overseas journey, as Dhoni and his boys were scheduled to play 13 overseas tests on the trot. The Indians batted first and Virat Kohli left a positive impression with his counterattacking ton. But a collapse from India meant that only 280 runs could be made. The pace bowling trio of Ishant, Shami and Zaheer bowled with great discipline in the first innings to bowl the hosts out for 244. The second innings of the Indians was just like a dream, as Cheteshwar Pujara made 153. Virat Kohli fell 4 runs short of a second ton in the game and would have been India’s first number 4 to score twin tons in a game. The hosts were given a target of 458 in a little over 4 sessions. After reducing the Proteas to 197-4, the game should have been won by India. But AB De Villiers and Faf Du Plessis kept the fight on and their partnership of 205 almost got South Africa past the line. When the fifth wicket fell, just 56 runs were needed in 77 balls. But the South Africans chose to be safe, and the game ended in a draw with South Africa’s final score being 450-7.