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Indian cricket must improve its away Test record!

August 13, 2014 09:16 IST

Indian cricket must improve its away Test record

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Chandresh Narayan

India has won just 38 of 238 Tests overseas since 1932!

Yet another Test loss away from home and this time an even more abject surrender than the previous one at Southampton.

As a true Indian fan you know when things start going wrong away from home it will only get worse.

There will be a million reasons proffered from the inexperience in batting and bowling to Mahendra Singh Dhoni's captaincy. But none will raise the bigger point of whether we as a nation really care about our Test record or, much rather, our overseas Test record.

The fact is that the away Test record is simply abysmal and not a tribute to the current generation, but the case ever since India became a Test nation in 1932.

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Image: Ishant Sharma, third from left, who led India to a rare triumph at Lord's.


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India has won just 38 of 238 Tests overseas

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Chandresh Narayan

India has won just 38 of the 238 overseas Tests since its debut, losing 102 and drawing 98.

The first away Test and series win did not come until 1967-1968 in New Zealand, a good 35 years after the debut.

For a brief while in the 1970s, India seemed to compete through world class spinners along with the batting prowess of Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath.

India won a series in the West Indies and England in 1971, and later a Test in the Caribbean (1976) thanks to a historic chase.

In 1977-1978, they were tipped to beat a second-string Packer-afflicted Australia, led by Bob Simpson, but failed, losing the series 2-3.

However, the ice had been broken, India won Tests in Australia for the first-time ever!

They followed it up with a win in Melbourne in 1980-1981 and then tragedy struck. They forgot how to win Tests home or away! In fact, they won just two of its next 45 Tests, home or away, till June 1986 when the team won the series in England.

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Image: Sunil Gavskar in the second Test against England at the Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi, December 1984.
Photographs: Adrian Murrell/Allsport UK

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In the 1990s, India just win 1 of 39 away Tests!

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Chandresh Narayan

At around the same time India won the World Cup in 1983 and followed it up with ODI titles in Australia and Sharjah. A young generation and a nation awakened to colour television and images of their team driving around in a floodlit stadium in a fancy car in Melbourne.

During the 1980s, India played 39 overseas Tests winning three, losing 12 and drawing 24 of them.

In the 1990s, the country emerged as an economic superpower in cricket and that coincided further with increase in the positive impact of limited-overs cricket on the Indian cricket-lover.

It showed in the track record away from home in Tests as they won just one of the 39 Tests played. The one away win came in 1993 in Sri Lanka.

The barren record away from home in Tests did not seem to anger the paying public as much as what the loss in the 1996 World Cup semi-final at Eden Gardens did.

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Image: Indian captain Kapil Dev lifts the 1983 World Cup trophy.
Photographs: Rediff Archives

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Ganguly & Co transformed Indian cricket overseas

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Chandresh Narayan

It was not until a bunch of brilliant individual cricketers decided to join forces as a team that India's away record improved in the early 2000s.

This never-before assembled cast of cricketers in Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, V V S Laxman, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Sehwag and the captain, Sourav Ganguly, transformed Indian cricket's approach overseas.

They instilled a belief that India could win away from home and gained respect for their cricket abroad.

In the first decade of the new millennium India won and lost 19 apiece of its 56 overseas Tests, indicating a dramatic improvement in the away record.

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Image: Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.
Photographs: Ananthakrishnan/Reuters
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India lost 0-8 away Tests in 2011-2012

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Chandresh Narayan

India has struggled, interestingly, after yet another World Cup win, in 2011.

From evidence of the first half of the second decade of the 21st century, the new order has not been able to come to terms with what their predecessors achieved.

This new generation has seen India lose 8-0 away from home in 2011-2012. This past year they have let slip golden opportunities in Johannesburg, Auckland and Wellington. But all this seemed to create just a blip on the national outrage radar unlike what a loss in a bilateral ODI series does.

All formats in cricket are equally important in today's world, but we in India seem to regard some as more equal than the others.

As a nation we are as much to blame for the poor record abroad in Tests as the sides since 1932.

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Image: The Indian team in England.


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Five overseas Tests await the Indian team

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Chandresh Narayan

Just see how we treated the only two captains, Ajit Wadekar and Rahul Dravid, who won a Test series in both the West Indies and England.

Wadekar was hounded out in 1974 after a shambolic England tour, while Dravid was on the chopping block ever since he led India to an early exit in the 2007 World Cup.

If we truly valued our Test cricket, we would be more vigilant about our side than just look out for individual brilliance as succour for being an ordinary sporting nation.

For the true Indian fan, the ordeal is not over yet. There are five more overseas Tests, including four in Australia in the coming months.

Needless to say, all the focus in the coming season will be elsewhere, perhaps hoping for another heady night at a floodlit MCG.


Image: Captain Ajit Wadekar, left, and the great leg-spinner B S Chandrasekhar after India won the Test series against England at the Oval, 1971.
Photographs: Central Press/Getty Images

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