India had the last laugh at an iconic venue. It is not often that a team scores 477 in the first innings and still loses a game but such was England’s fate.
When Virat Kohli’s men secured an innings and 75-run victory over England in the fifth and final Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Tuesday, it helped them clinch the series 4-0, an outcome that capped a wonderful stint in cricket’s longest format.
Exactly at 4.32 p.m., 35 minutes after left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja nailed his seventh wicket to gift India a much-savoured triumph, a mail from the International Cricket Council landed in the in-boxes of cricket correspondents. It was official, India has ended the year as the number one Test team. An impressive finish to a young squad that is busy forging a bright path.
Coming as it does after disastrous results against England — losses away in 2011 and 2014 and at home in 2012, the current golden run offered overwhelming relief and joy to Kohli and company.
The nation’s cricket team is on a roll and the hot streak it nurses now is the best it ever had. India has remained undefeated for 18 consecutive Tests and has won 14 of those games. Its earlier fine show was from 1985 to 1987 when in 17 Tests, it had four wins, 12 draws and a tie.
Wearing whites and plying their wares in Tests, India’s current generation of players have humbled Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand and now England.
The playing eleven is almost set with solid openers, a strong middle-order, a tail that lasts and an attack, ominous especially at home. Kohli and R. Ashwin have been outstanding and new heroes have been found. If this Test was about K.L. Rahul, Karun Nair and Jadeja, in the previous weeks, men like Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Mohammed Shami and Jayant Yadav have sparkled.
Under Kohli and coach Anil Kumble, India is chasing higher benchmarks and rivals are wary. A vanquished England skipper Alastair Cook said: “When you lose games of cricket, it becomes very hard and it can be quite a lonely place. You have got to give credit to India. They have played some good cricket on the way. We just haven’t been good enough to put India under pressure for long periods.”
Appraising his men, skipper Kohli said: “I am proud to be part of such a good year, especially with the team in transition. But this is just the foundation that’s been laid for us to carry on for a lot many years. It’s just the beginning.”