"There are some big tournaments coming up. But ultimately, if I fast forward it, the Indian Test tour in about three or four years time, to me that's the ultimate. We will judge ourselves on whether we're a great cricket team if we beat India in India" - These were the words of Justin Langer in his first press conference as Australia's head coach, last year, and had re-expressed the desire earlier in November following India's clean sweep against South Africa at home.
But why so?
37 wins in 50 matches with just four defeats. 16 wins out of the total 18 series played which includes a present streak of 12 unbeaten contests. As the decade nears its end, Team India have capped off the period with best-ever home record in Tests clearly outlining the margin of difficulty in beating India in India. However, their overseas ventures through the decade have largely been the same, albeit a downfall compared to their performance in the 2000s. But solely riding on their performance in the home stretch, India have finished the decade with a figure that only stands behind The Australian team of 2000s and the formidable Windies of the 1980s.
2010s, India’s best decade at home
In the last three decades, India have lost just four rubbers at home out of the total 48 series played with the equation standing simple - only a solitary loss per decade. And in this decade, it came against England, in 2012, which was their first-ever Test series win in India since 1984-85. Overall, India won 37 matches off the total 50 at home. While the win percentage has improved immensely for India compared to their 21 wins in 47 matches in 2000s, India have reduced their number of defeats to exactly half. To further proof India's home dominance in this decade, India won almost the same number of matches at home (38) and lost thrice as many matches (13) between 1990 and 2009 as compared to their numbers in this decade.
If you look at India's decade-wise record, the period of 50s, 60s and 80s witnessed more defeats than victories on home turf. The 1970s was the only exception as India won 11 and lost seven in 34 games, the era that saw the quartet of Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapali Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi, and Srinivas Venkatraghavan at their peak. Towards the end of the previous century, India picked up the winning rhythm at home. In fact, in the 1990s, India were unbeaten in any bilateral series, although both West Indies and Pakistan had come close. At the turn of the millennium, when India were going through a tough phase in the sport, Hansie Cronje's South Africa had stunned the hosts 2-0 in February 2000, which was India's first defeat at home since 1986/87. They then lost 2-1 to the mighty Aussie side in their 2004/05 tour. Meanwhile, Pakistan (2005), England (2006) and South Africa (2008) all came close to scripting an upset.
The Indian team, then under MS Dhoni, started this decade against Graeme Smith's dominating South African side and managed to end the series in a draw with a stunning comeback win at the Eden Gardens. India's only defeat in the decade came in 2012, when Alastair Cook's England cleverly countered the spin attack to claim a 2-1 series win. Since then, India have won all 12 Test series at home, winning 28 off 34 games and losing only one - against Australia in Pune in 2017. The astounding and record-breaking run also includes a streak of 19 Test wins under the captaincy of Virat Kohli - the most under any Indian skipper.
Spin, the primary reason behind India’s dominance
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have played the most influential role in India's grand home run through the decade. In fact, India's rise in dominance have been directly proportional to their rise in formidability in Test circuit. Between 2010 and 2019, the pair took 411 wicket between themselves at an average of 24.109 with 28 five-wicket hauls and seven ten-fers. Ashwin stands as the highest wicket-taker for India in the decade with 254 scalps in 43 matches at 22.80, followed by Jadeja who bagged 157 wickets at 21.06 in 33 matches.
Overall, Indian spinners averaged 25.40 in this decade while picking 598 wickets - the most they have bagged in a decade at their best-ever average.
However, the same decade witnessed a change in responsibility from a spin-dominated attack (in terms of bowling numbers) to a pace-dominated attack.
All through Dhoni's Test captaincy untill a sudden retirement in 2014 and the first half of Kohli's captaincy, spin remained India's potent weapon when it came to bowling. The spinners bagged 759 wickets in 85 matches at an average of 29.72 and a strike rate of 63.2 between January 2010 to December 2017. The numbers are in fact the best for any spin attack within the time frame. And at home, the spinners picked 524 wickets in 42 matches between 2010 and 2017 at an average of 25.73 and a strike rate of 59.3 - again, the best for any spin attack (barring the strike rate which was a tad behind Sri Lanka's). The spinners alone amounted to 70.6 per cent of the total wickets India picked at home in that time frame. Ashwin and Jadeja shared more than half of the total wickets the spinners mounted and were in fact responsible for 25 wins off the total 33 Tests the two played together. India lost just one Test (against Australia in Pune in 2017) when both Ashwin and Jadeja featued in the playing XI at home.
On the other hand, the pacers, between 2010 and 2017, managed to pick 604 wickets for India in 85 matches, averaging 36.15 and having a strike rate of 64. Only Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and West Indies had more average than Indian pacers while their strike rate stood sixth among the 10 Test-playing nations. At home, the pace unit picked 218 wickets in 42 matches at 32.55 with a strike rate of 63.9. Only Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe stood behind India on that list. The pacers amounted to 29.38 per cent of the total wickets India picked at home.
With the start of India's overseas journey in 2018, the spinners came less in handy giving opportunity for the pacers to break away from the shackles of playing as a second fiddle in the bowling attack. While the spinners managed 128 wickets in the 22 matches they played in the last two years, averaging 26.46 (best among nations who have played more than 5 matches) with a strike rate of 56.6 (second among nations who have played more than 5 matches), the pacers finished with 274 wickets in 22 matches at an average of 20.74 (best nations who have played more than 5 matches) and a strike rate of 41.8 (best in the last two years). The percentage share of total wickets suddenly stood 31.84 for spinners and 68.15 for the pacers.
Interestingly, the story remained the same even on home turf. The spinners were as effective as they wore previously, but the pacers were better than ever that Indian cricket witnessed in its rich history. The spinners bagged 74 wickets in eight matches at home in the last two years at an average of 23.05 (best) and strike rate of 47.05 (also, best), while the pace unit picked 80 wickets in seven matches at an ever-impressive average of 15.30 and a strike rate of 29.8 (best). Such was the dominance of the pace attack that the pair of Ashwin and Jadeja had gone wicketless in India's maiden pick-ball Test match, against Bangladesh, played in Kolkata.
But is India's best home run, the best-ever in world cricket?
Among teams who have played more than 20 Tests at home in a decade over the last 70 years, India's current run of 37 wins in 50 matches stands only behind the mighty Australian side of the 2000s which was led by Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. They had won 45 of their total 59 Tests they played, while losing only five.
Teams with best win percentage at home in a decade (min 20 games)
But besides an almost similar win percentage in terms of matches and India standing a tad ahead in terms of win-loss record at home in terms of series, the Indian team between 2010 to 2019 shared a lesser batting average (35.84) than the Australians of the 2000s (47.67). However, the Indian bowling attack averaged better (26.64) than the Aussie unit (28.35).
Overseas script detoriates
India managed to win only 19 overseas Tests of the total 57 they played in this decade which leaves their win percentage as 33.3, lower than what they had achieved in the previous decade. Between 2000 and 2009, India had won 23 of 63 Tests abroad, recording a win percentage of 36.5. In fact, India's overseas script of 2000s, has been their best ever and marked a massive improvement following a victory in only one Test match in 1990s of the total 39 games. Their previous best was in the 70s when they had won six matches of total 30 played.
India's overseas record each decade
Further dissecting India's performance abroad in this decade, the team played 36 series between 2010 and 2019, and won only seven contests - two were against Sri Lanka and three against West Indies. Their only notable win was the one in Australia last January, while they had come close against South Africa in 2010/10 tour. Of the remaining 11, three ended in a draw and eight in defeats. And of the total 34 matches played in SENA nations, India won only six matches. Two series ended in a whitewashed - against England and Australia - both in 2011.
Compared to their performance in the 2000s, India also won seven series overseas, but it comprises a lot many notable wins. They had come close to victories in series against England in 2002 and against Australia in 2003/04 tour before sealing a historic win in Pakistan in 2004 which was their first overseas series win in more than a decade. They then defeated England in 2007, their first ever since 1986, before rain helped them to take away the series against New Zealand in 2009, a first for India in New Zealand in 41 years.
India, overall, land third in all-time list
Despite a poor show overseas, and riding solely on the virtue of their dominance on home turf, India's performance in this decade is the third-best ever considering any team who has played more than 50 matches in a decade. With 56 wins in 107 matches and registering a win percentage of 52.33, India's performance in the 2010s is only bettered by Australia team of the 2000s and the Windies side of the 1980s.
Teams with best win percentage in a decade (min 10 games)
Most dominant wins
To figure out a team's dominance in a decade, their wins have been categorised into - innings victories, win by 150-plus runs and win by 8 or more wickets. Out of India's 37 wins in this decade at home, 16 were by an innings, seven were by 150-plus runs and five by a margin of eight or more wickets. This means 56 per cent of India's home victories were dominant wins. And overall speaking, 27 out of India's 56 wins in this decade were by an innings, 16 by a margin of 15 runs or more and eight by a margin of eight or more wickets. This implies 47.66 per cent of India's win in this decade were dominant wins.
Most dominant team at home
|Team||Decade||Matches||Win||Innings Wins||150+ runs||8+ wickets||Dominant win %|
In terms of home percentage, India's figure stands only behind the Aussie team of the 2000s who managed to record a dominant win percentage of 57.63 after recording 34 such victories. However, when the overall numbers are considered, India's figure of 47.66 per cent of dominant wins in this decade are the best for any team topping the Australian side of 2000s (37.39) and the Windies team of 1980s (42.68).
Most dominant team (overall)
|Team||Decade||Matches||Win||Innings Wins||150+ runs||8+ wickets||Dominant win %|
India hence wrapped up a dominant 2010 in Test cricket and would now like to carry forward this momentum in the 2020s. With the likes of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara and the prized pace attack still to continue through the next decade, India in 2020s will be a pleasure to watch. The only challenge for them would be to improve their overseas script.