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Adelaide To Lord’s: India’s Best Test Wins Under Virat Kohli’s Helm

The Indian Test squad will start a new era later this month under a new captain after Virat Kohli decided to step down from the captaincy earlier this month following India’s loss to South Africa in the Test series. Virat Kohli took charge of the Test team in 2014 from Mahendra Singh Dhoni midway through their tour of Australia, proving to be an able successor to Captain Cool.

In his seven-year stint as captain, Virat Kohli turned India into the dominant force in World Cricket, winning fixtures and series in uncharted territories by leading a generation of talented batsmen and bowlers. Going purely by statistics, Kohli is India’s most successful Test captain, boasting 68 Test caps to his name as captain. India won 40 of the 68 matches that they played under his charge – with a win rate of 58.8%, Kohli sits above the likes of Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the longest format of the game.

His tenure as the captain is even more remarkable for his contributions with the bat, regularly ranking No.1 in the ICC Test Batsmen rankings. With his energy on the field and his support for Cricket’s original format, Virat Kohli has become the most prominent ambassador of the game.

As India enter a new era with Virat Kohli stepping down from the captaincy, we take a look at India’s best wins under his charge:

 

#4: INDIA VS AUSTRALIA AT BENGALURU

Australia’s tour of India in 2017 was one of the first instances of India showing their ability to bounce back from defeat in action. After losing the first Test at Pune by a gigantic 333-run margin, India were facing pressure from both the management and the fans to turn things around quickly. Batting first, India crumbled under Nathan Lyon’s spell – they managed to post a measly total of 189 runs in the first innings. Lyon took eight wickets in the innings, mastering India’s spin-friendly pitches against them. Australia under Steve Smith managed to post 276 runs in reply, courtesy of half-centuries from Shaun Marsh and Matt Renshaw.

India’s second innings was a battle of attrition, with Cheteshwar Pujara becoming the anchor for the team with his 221-ball 92 run innings. Australia needed just 188 runs to win, and the expectations for India’s victory were slim. Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma managed to contain the Australian top order from running away with a victory. But it was Ravichandran Ashwin who weaved his magic with the ball, taking six wickets for 41 runs. Steve Smith was the highest scorer for the Aussies, and he only managed to score 28 runs – showing the discipline India displayed on the field. India bowled out Australia for 112 runs, winning the match by 75 runs. They would later go on to win the fourth Test and the Test series 2-1 at home.

 

#3: INDIA VS WEST INDIES AT RAJKOT

India’s biggest Test win by margin came in Rajkot against West Indies in 2018. Batting first, India posted a whopping 649 runs in the first innings. Prithvi Shaw and Ravindra Jadeja both scored centuries, while the skipper led the way with a 139 run stint. The innings witnessed two more 80+ scores, a testament to India’s strength on familiar home grounds.

In reply, West Indies could only manage a paltry 181 runs in the second innings, as Ravichandran Ashwin’s 4/37 decimated their middle order. Virat Kohli decided to enforce the follow-on, and it was the turn of Kuldeep Yadav to tear through the Windies batting lineup. India’s spinners took 17 of the 20 available wickets in the match, converting Rajkot into another fortress for the Men in Blue.

 

#2: INDIA VS ENGLAND AT LORD’S

If Test cricket is considered the purest format of the game, then there is no game purer than the ones held at the home of cricket. While India have already won a Test at Lord’s twice, the victory in 2021 has special significance for the Indian team. India’s tour of England for a five-match Test series began with a draw at Nottingham, and the stakes were high for both teams due to the World Test Championship factor.

India were put to bat in the first innings, with Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul putting together a strong opening partnership of 126 runs. KL Rahul would go on to score a historic century that made its way to the honours board, as India posted 364 runs on a batting-friendly surface. In reply, England’s skipper Joe Root scored a magnificent 180 even while the team crumbled around him, single-handedly keeping England in the game. The hosts managed to post a slim lead of 27 runs courtesy of quick runs from Moeen Ali and Jos Buttler. India batted elegantly in the second innings, with a comprehensive team effort setting 272 runs as the target for England.

The pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Ishant Sharma tore through the English batting lineup, with five batsmen getting out for a duck. England were bowled out for 120 runs, giving India a dominant 151-run victory margin over the hosts. India lead the series 2-1 and are set to face them in the final Test later this year.

 

#1: INDIA VS AUSTRALIA AT ADELAIDE

Arguably the series which announced their ascendancy in Test cricket, India’s victory in the first Test of the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar trophy ranks as the greatest victory under Virat Kohli’s tenure. Batting first, Indian batsmen struggled to score runs on a pitch that favoured the Australian seamers. Cheteshwar Pujara’s gritty 123 off 246 balls, combined with contributions from Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane took the team to 250 runs in the first innings.

India desperately needed to contain the Australian batsmen, and the pace trio of Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah showed their full potential by bowling out the Aussies for just 235 runs. India managed to stitch together brilliant partnerships in the second innings, with Cheteshwar Pujara once again becoming the anchor for the team. The fourth innings went right down to the wire, as both time and the persistence of the Australian lower-order troubled India’s bowlers. But the pacer trio, along with Ravichandran Ashwin, managed to deliver the victory for India on the dying moments of Day 5.

The victory margin of 31 runs is one of the closest Indian victories and the first time that India won the first Test of a series in Australia. They would go on to win the third Test at Melbourne, giving India a memorable 2-1 series victory in Australia, shredding off the tag of home bullies once and for all.

 

 

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