India ended their journey in Tests in 2019 on a perfect note, getting the better of Bangladesh inside three days in the historic Day-Night encounter at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. It capped a near-perfect year for Team India in the longer format of the game, one in which they remained unbeaten both at home and away. India are also firmly etched at the top of the points table in the ICC World Test Championship, with 360 points from seven games. Here’s a recap of the fantastic year that it has been for India in Tests in 2019.
Undefeated in 2019
India did not lose a single Test match in 2019. They played a total of eight Tests out of which they won seven and drew one. The year began with a rain-affected stalemate in the New Year Test at Sydney. India went on to win all the other Tests in the year. They defeated West Indies 2-0 away from home, by 318 runs at North Sound, and 257 runs at Kingston. At home, they were all over South Africa en route to inflicting a 3-0 drubbing. After winning the Visakhapatnam Test by 203 runs, Team India went on to taste innings victories at Pune and Ranchi. No wonder, Bangladesh were no match to India’s might, succumbing to massive defeats in the two-match series — innings and 130 runs at Indore, and innings and 46 runs at Kolkata. India thus created a record for the most consecutive innings victories — four.
Fast and furious
2019 was undoubtedly the year of India’s pacers. What ended with the fast men taking all wickets to fall in the Day-Night Test at Kolkata, began with Jasprit Bumrah’s incredible spells in West Indies. Bumrah claimed an amazing 5 for 7 in the second innings at North Sound, and picked up a hat-trick as well during his 6 for 27 at Kingston. Injured for the latter part of the season, Bumrah ended 2019 with 14 wickets in three Tests at an average of 13.14.
Mohammed Shami was the standout pacer for India in Tests in 2019. In eight matches, Shami picked up 33 wickets at an average of 16.66. His five-for at Visakhapatnam set the tone of the series for India, and he remained among the wickets throughout the year. The injury to Bumrah opened up the gates for Umesh Yadav to walk back in, but the Vidarbha pacer actually barged in, claiming a rich bag of 23 wickets in four Tests. Yadav constantly beat batsmen for pace, and his accuracy was much more attuned to the Test level.
Last but not the least, the most experienced of all faster men, Ishant Sharma, also made his mark with 25 scalps in six Tests at an average of 15.56. He claimed a five-for at North Sound, and finished off the year with one at Kolkata. His incoming deliveries and leg-cutters made him highly effective.
Opening the doors to success
With KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay failing to hold on to their place as openers in the Test team, India decided to do a Virender Sehwag with Rohit Sharma. And so far, the results have been extraordinary. Rohit was moved to the top of the order for the South Africa Tests at home, and in five games since he has amassed 556 with three hundreds at a staggering average of 92.66. His scores since opening read 176, 127, 14, 212, 6 and 21.
On the other hand, a hungry Mayank Agarwal has continued to flourish as Test opener. In eight Tests this year, he has amassed 754 runs at an average of 68.54 with three centuries. With 215 against South Africa and 243 against Bangladesh, he became the second quickest to register two double hundreds, needing only 12 innings to do so.
Kohli’s consistency and Rahane’s return to form
For India’s captain Virat Kohli, it was business as usual with a career-best 254 not out at Pune and 136 at Kolkata. Even vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane got his groove back, ending his two-year century drought in West Indies and adding one more at Ranchi. After his heroics Down Under, Cheteshwar Pujara had a comparatively subdued 2019. His 193 at Sydney was his only hundred of the year though he crossed fifty four more times after that.