India will go against Kane Williamson’s New Zealand next week in Southampton for the 1st ever World Championship Title.
This is the story of how India got there. India’s road to the final has been full of twists and drama. Over the last 3 years, India has played scintillating cricket over 6 different series to reach the final. Here is how India made it to the Final…
West Indies v India
India started its World Test Championship journey all the way back in August 2019 when it toured West Indies for a 2 test match series. India absolutely dominated the series and won both the matches by a huge margin. India won the 1st Test by 318 runs and the second by 257 runs. This series win gave India 120 points. Highlight of the series was Jasprit Bumrah taking a hat-trick in the 2nd test.
India v South Africa
India next played South Africa for a 3 test match series in October 2019 in India. India dominated South Africa across 3 Tests. They won the 2nd and 3rd Test by an innings. Highlight of this series was Rohit Sharma scoring his 1st double century in Tests. He scored a blistering 212 in the 3rd Test at Ranchi. South Africa was no match for India in its home condition.
India v Bangladesh
Bangladesh toured India immediately after the South Africa series in November 2019. India won both the Tests by an innings. Mayank Agarwal made 243 in the first test at Indore and Virat Kohli made 136 in the second test. The second test was a special one. It was the first ever Day-Night Test in India. Indian fast bowlers dominated with the Pink ball. All Bangladesh wickets went to fast bowlers.
New Zealand v India
By the time Indian team toured New Zealand in February 2020, it was comfortably sitting on top of the ICC Test Championship table. It had won all the 3 series it played. It’s record read 7/7 tests won. Then came the Kiwi challenge. India failed the challenge and lost both the Tests. Kiwi fast bowlers were too good for the Indian batsmen. Kiwi Team was very good in their home condition and out played India. Kyle Jamieson made his Test debut. Even after this series loss, India remained top of the table.
COVID-19 hits the World
India ended the new Zealand tour in March 2020. Few weeks later, COVID-19 engulfed the world. Everything came to a stand still. Sports calendars were thrown into a spin. For months, there was no cricket played. Since the earlier plan for each nation playing 6 Test series could not be completed in time, ICC had to come up with a revised plan for the Test Championship. They revised the Test Championship scoring system and India suddenly went down to 2nd in the table even after having the most points. ICC changed the system from most points won to percentage of points won.
This made the road to World Test Championship Final quite interesting. 4 teams suddenly came into the running for 2 spots.
Australia v India
India had not played international cricket for 9 months when it toured Australia in November 2020. Cricket fans were eagerly waiting for the series against Australia. There was a lot of hype going into the crucial Test Series.
And Oh Boy! The series delivered. It was one of the best test series in recent times. Indian team fought like never before. A couple of paragraphs cannot do justice to the drama this test series produced. But we will try…
India started the series in the worst possible manner. They got all out for just 36 in their second innings of 1st Test. Australia won and had all the momentum going into 2nd Test. Virat Kohli returned to India on paternity leave. All experts started predicting a 4-0 Aussie win. Despite all the criticism of 36 all out, India put on a good show at Melbourne in the Boxing day test. Ajinkya Rahane scored a brilliant 100, bowlers chipped in at the right time and the series was leveled at 1-1.
At the 3rd test in Sydney, Australia came back strong. Going into the Final day, Australia were the favourites to clinch the win but India batted the whole of day 5 to draw the match. Hanuman Vihari with a torn hamstring and Ravi Ashwin with a back spasm batted and batted and batted. Their brave batting display rattled the Aussies and their captain Tim Paine said “See you at the Gabba“.
India went into the 4th Test with none of their frontline seamers. Indian bowlers had played a total of 4 tests before the Gabba test. There was no Bumrah. No Ashwin. No Jadeja. No Shami. But this team had fight and heart like no one else. And they fought brilliantly for the 5 days. Going into final day, India needed 325 to win on the last day in a stadium where Australia had not lost a test for 32 years. Fortress Gabba as they called it then. What followed on Day 5 was brilliant cricket. Led by Shubham Gill’s 91, Pujara’s gritty batting and Pant’s counter-attack in the third session, India chased down the target with 3 overs to go. India won the series 2-1.
India v England
The final series was against England. Before start of the series, India exactly knew what they had to do to qualify for the Final. New Zealand made it to the final once Australia tour of South Africa got postponed due to the COVID pandemic. England won the toss the toss in the first Test and that gave them a huge advantage in the match. On a flat track they scored big and won the test. Going into the remaining 3 tests, India had to win at least 2 and not lose even one. And this is where India showed why it deserves to be in the World Test Championship Final.
Under pressure, they dominated the remaining 3 tests. They out skilled England in all 3 tests. Axar Patel and Ravi Ashwin foxed the England batting line-up for 6 innings in a row. And India’s 3-1 win confirmed its entry into the final.
Interestingly, over the last 3 years, only New Zealand has beaten India in a Test series. And now India will face them in the Final. A chance for redemption awaits this India Test team…