The year didn't start well for Indian cricket fans, the last test victory had come for the Indian team in the boxing day test against the Protea team. Post that India lost the lead, as well as the series against Proteas when they were firm favourites. What made the fans even sadder was the fact that Virat Kohli, the captain who brought the glory to the tests back stepped down from the role. The runners-up in ICC test championship were waiting for one opportunity to get back to their winning habit.
And they did it in style against the Srilankan lions. A lot of changes were made in the team before the series. The limited over captain Rohit Sharma was made the captain of the Indian contingent for red-ball cricket. The experienced players like Rahane and Pujara, who are exceptional contributors to India's test side were dropped from the side. For the first time after 98 matches, India was playing without either of the test specialists of India. But despite all this happening, India roared back in style.
The series witnessed the two milestone matches for India's two most significant contributors at this moment. The master of centuries and King Kohli accomplished a unique feat of completing his century of Test matches in the first match which happened at Mohali. And the highest individual runscorer in limited over, the very own Hitman played his overall 400th match in the same series. Apart from the brilliant batting which both have displayed, one would see them quash the rift rumours when Rohit Sharma sent Virat back, only to allow give him a well-deserved guard of honour in his 100th match.
The series was very important to boost the morale of the Indian team considering the ongoing Test Championship. India lived up to the expectations of being favourites in this series. The most pleasing thing to witness in this series was the performance of the youth. Shreyas Iyer grabbed the opportunity with both arms and made a statement. His innings of 92 in the first innings of the Bengaluru test match was turned the tide in India's favour. One of the greatest thinkers and contributors in recent times Hanuma Vihari yet again showed the team why he is an important member of the squad. Rishabh Pant as usual played with fire, just the way he wants, but his approach has done more good than harm to India in tests.
The return of Ravindra Jadeja was something India was waiting for, and when it happened, he made sure he makes his fans happy with his performance. In this series, he made sure he is treated as a specialist batter too. His innings of 175 not out gave a glimpse of it, and also showed his selflessness when he decided to declare the innings. Furthermore, his contribution to the bowl was something India missed during the period he was not playing and enjoyed watching during the series. He accomplished his dream of scoring a century and grabbing a five-wicket haul in the same match. He played his role to perfection.
R Ashwin has always played a vital role in the team's success. Also, he did what he is known for, breaking records. In the previous match, he broke the record of grabbing more wickets than legendary Kapil Dev, thereby becoming the second-highest wicket-taker for India. Today he surpassed the wicket tally of Dale Steyn. Jasprit Bumrah showed the world why he is one of the finest bowlers when he grabbed a 5-wicket hall on a Bengaluru pitch which hardly offered anything for the pacers.
All in all, India didn't just make a comeback after the Protea series loss but heavily redeemed it to make their case strong for World Test Championship. Although it came in the home conditions, a win is a win, and with it, Rohit Sharma started his test career as a skipper with a clean sweep. Although one would've expected a tough fight from the Srilankan team, the matches were good for Indian fans. The only regret from this series for the fans is not being able to witness the 71st century from the world's best batter. But sooner or later, it will come.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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