India retaining the Test Championship mace for the third year running is certainly something to savour.
Virat Kohli credits this to a “lot of depth” in the team which has led to India becoming a Test powerhouse.
What is refreshing is that India have discovered their killer instinct which has helped them harness the talent in the team and push for glory.
This change was evident during the Mahendra Singh Dhoni era and now it has been carried forward by Kohli.
Yes, there are some points which still need to be ironed to make India totally dominant in Test cricket. But that is bound to come as India move on again this year. From being mere pushovers India can now proudly say they are the best team in the world.
There was a time when India just buckled to fast bowling and often fell victim to swing and seam stuff
India had great cricketers like Vijay Merchant, Vinoo Mankad, Chandu Borde, Vijay Manjrekar to name a few but the overall performances did not end in victories.
Strong overseas teams like England and Australia often gave chances to untried youngsters or second string players when they toured India.
But as years went by players like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, the spin quartet of Bishen Singh Bedi, B S Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and Srinivasan Venkatraghavan plus Kapil Dev and others helped India to pose challenges to other teams.
Despite the advent of the shorter version of the game, India continued to improve in Tests and all those years of hard work has made the team the strongest in the world.
The overseas bogie of losing matches there has also been overcome despite a few stutters.
Kohli and his men can only hope to get even better as time goes by.
New Zealand richly deserve their second spot in the ranking. The Kiwis have always clung on to the middle or lower rungs of the Test ladder for a long time. Credit must go to Brendon McCullum for bringing the best out of the team.
McCullum, an aggressive cricketer by nature, gave a free hand for the players to express themselves and this reflected in the results.
Kane Wiliamson has carried on the tradition and New Zealand are one of the best teams in the world not only in terms of cricket but also fair play.
Sadly, South Africa and Australia have regressed a bit due to retirement of top players, Kolpak contracts and disciplinary action.
South Africa are still searching for players to fill an opening and middle-order slot. There is no dearth of fast bowlers in South Africa and that is one area the team feels secure.
Australia were left coping with the loss of captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner through bans, both of whom were vital cogs in the team. It will be interesting to see how their return will impact the outcome of the Ashes.
England are also facing problems with their batting. Some of the younger players have not measured up to the pressures of Test cricket and replacements will have to be found before the Ashes.
On a positive note, Sri Lanka and the West Indies are beginning to show signs of a revival. This will make this year’s ICC World Test Championship very interesting.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
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