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Test kings? India’s formidable bench strength is the envy of red-ball cricket teams

India’s recent emphatic Test series win over England has secured them a place in the World Test Championship (WTC) final in England this summer. This was India’s 13th consecutive Test series victory at home, highlighting the team’s dominance in subcontinental conditions. However, the format of WTC is such that no team can go all the way on the strength of home advantage alone. It’s a testimony to how far Indian cricket has evolved that our players are no longer seen as poor travellers or flat track bullies. In fact, since WTC began in 2019 India has played 17 Tests, winning 12, losing four and drawing one. These included two away series wins in the West Indies in August 2019 and more recently in Australia over the winter.

India’s two Test defeats in New Zealand in February 2020 were a blemish. Interestingly, India will be facing the Kiwis once again in the WTC final this June. One thing that has become clear, however, is that the team now has enviable bench strength. We now have players for every occasion and condition.

For example, in the Caribbean it was Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah with the ball and Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari with the bat that led the Indian victories. Then in the home series against South Africa in October 2019 it was Mayank Agarwal, skipper Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma who batted the opposition out of the three matches. And in Australia, despite Kohli’s absence, it was youngsters like Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Siraj, Shubman Gill and Washington Sundar who came good. Therefore, Team India today has a problem of plenty. It’s like a Swiss army knife with multiple options to choose from. With such resources, India could certainly be crowned Test kings this June.

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This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.



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