The India team has been mighty while playing at home. They have handed a hammering to numerous teams that have toured India. Most recently the travelling New Zealand team was at the receiving end as the New Zealanders had no answer to India’s bowling as well as batting and were drubbed 3-0 in tests and thus India grabbed back the no.1 position in tests from arch-rivals Pakistan.
Though there has been absolutely no doubt about India’s performance at home, it’s their away performances that always come under scrutiny and criticism. The poor performances of the Indian team overseas especially on the bouncy wickets overshadow their phenomenal performances at home where the pitches are tailor-made to suit their spinners. Somehow, the famed Indian team fails to perform in away games especially on bouncy pitches like the ones in Australia, South Africa and England.
There was a time in 1990s when the Indians failed to win a single test series in an entire decade. Infact they were able to win just 1 test match in an entire decade. Those were the times when not much would be expected of the Indian team. Things improved at the turn of the millennium as under Sourav Ganguly’s captaincy India won 11 of the 39 tests between 2000 and 2010. The big 4 of the Indian team won many hearts and matches on a consistent basis overseas. Big things were expected when Anil Kumble passed on the test captaincy to Dhoni. However Indians failed to notch away series victories against major teams like Australia, England and South Africa.
Indians have never been good travellers and barring some sporadic series victories, Indians haven’t won anything worth remembering in away series’. While India has raced ahead when it comes to the shorter formats, in the cricket’s longer version the team is still crawling. Between matches 2011 and 2014 India won 12 matches of the 20 in Australia, South Africa and England. The year 2016 has been a mixed bag for the Indians. India started off with a tour to Australia and Australians beat Indians comprehensively 4-1 in the ODIs. However, in the T20 matches that followed Indians drubbed Australia 3-0. India’s next assignment was the T20 Asia cup and India lifted the cup. Next came the World T20 and India bowed out in the semis. India;s tour to West Indies was a successful won as they won the 3 match Test series and drew the t20 series 1-1 which was played in USA.
To succeed on the bouncy wickets, India needs bowlers particularly pacers who will be consistently able to clock 140kmph+ and at the same time maintain line and length. Currently only Mohammad Shami has been able to achieve this. Other pacers like Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and even the experienced Ishant Sharma have been taken for cleaners and have been largely ineffective on the overseas matches. Buvaneshwar Kumar did show some promise but he doesn’t really have enough pace to help his cause. Adding to the problems, the spin department consisting of the likes of Ashwin, Jadeja, Amit Mishra and others haven’t really caused much problems on the away pitches as opposed to their destructive bowling performances on the Indian wickets.
The situation isn’t bright on the batting front either as the famed batting line-up consisting of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni have been their partisan selves on the away pitches. The batting and the bowling order needs to fire in unison and only then India will be able to win series overseas. India has lot of time to try out new players as India doesn’t have any overseas fixture in the next 9 months as after the New Zealand series, England will tour India. We will also be playing a one-off test against the Bangladesh team at Hyderabad in February.
The next overseas assignment of team India is the Champions trophy to be played in England from June 2017. India needs to be prepared to retain the title they won in 2013 under Dhoni’s captaincy. If India manages to address their short-comings in the bowling department and draft in batsmen who are capable of playing pace and short balls on bouncy/fast wickets then India has a good chance of dominating the teams on overseas assignments.