The Indian team recently made history by winning their maiden Test series 2-1 in Australia, since they first toured the country in 1947-48. The victory was headlined by an all-round team performance with the batsmen and bowlers rising to the occasion, winning the key moments and showing not just varied skills but also the determination to fight it out in the game's richest format.
The tour brought a joyous end to the nation's year-long struggle under difficult conditions overseas, that included journeys to South Africa, England and Australia. The fact that India were able to win four away Tests on the three continents was testament to a gradually maturing side and the Test No. 1 status that it enjoys currently.
While ICC Cricketer of the Year 2018 and Indian captain Virat Kohli was phenomenal as always, Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara's contribution to the results can't be overstated enough. It finally seems that India have got a really good Test team and the gaping holes left by the Fab Four are now being fulfilled by the current crop of batsmen.
Even though Kohli and Pujara have been considered great Test batsmen for a while now, it is their ability to perform outside Asia that has finally made all the accolades sound true than ever. No matter how many runs a batsman scores, they are always judged by what they did (or the lack of it) away from home. The SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) countries have long been considered an Achilles' heel for Asian batsmen but the reverse is also true. Batsmen from outside Asia also have always found it difficult to negotiate the hot and humid conditions of the continent on top of the slow and spinning pitches normally found in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, UAE and Sri Lanka. That is the precise reason that England hold so dear their recent 3-0 win in Sri Lanka and the 2-1 victory in India in 2012. It's not without reason that Steve Waugh called the famous Indian tour of 2001, 'the final frontier'.
This begs the question as to which batsmen in history have made alien conditions their own and found the most success away from home. There is a rider here: it is never a great idea to compare batsmen across generations. But when we look at the numbers what emerges is the fact that no matter how much we rave about Kohli and Pujara, they still have a long way to go before being considered amongst the greatest Test batsmen of all time.
ASIANS OUTSIDE ASIA:
Most runs -
Highest Averages* -
While Kohli manages to find himself in the top-ten of both the runs and averages list, the likes of Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane are far below the pecking order. It is no surprise to see Indian greats Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sunil Gavaskar rule the lists with their phenomenal numbers.
It is clear from the above list that the Kohli and Pujara have a long way to go before overcoming the all-time Asian run-getters away from home. But it goes without saying that they have played far less number of matches than some of the game's greatest and their biggest challenges and riches might lie in the future. One thing is clear: the batsmen who do well away from home are also the ones most adored back home.
NON-ASIANS IN ASIA:
Most runs -
Highest Averages* -