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The most difficult task in the entire sport is winning a Test cricket series in India

The most difficult task in the entire sport is winning a Test cricket series in India


With 20-year-old spinner Shoaib Bashir proving to be a mighty handful and continuing a remarkable start to his career after starting the series amid a diplomatic row, England looked set to ram through a deficit against India and to achieve a convincing fourth Test in Ranchi.

Test cricket traditionalists had a lump in their throat when they suddenly realized that this compelling series was on the brink of a rare fifth Test decider. A win in England seemed like destiny, just like a real-life cricket fairytale set, with the series final being played in Dharamshala, undoubtedly the most picturesque cricket ground in the world due to its snow-capped backdrop in the shape of the Dauladhar. ridge.

The surface is so beautiful that it apparently has mystical powers to transform those who dismiss cricket as dull and dreary into ardent fans. That may be purely anecdotal, but nevertheless the stage was set for a truly special Test match.

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Sounds too good to be true? Well, it was, and it proved to be another case of anti-climax for Test cricket followers who spend so many long days hoping for something extraordinary. When it actually happens, as it did when Shamar Joseph went berserk last month, Test cricket is unparalleled as a spectacle. It just rarely happens.

All that excitement, as enthusiasm built, was quickly extinguished by a mature partnership from India's deep pool of talented youngsters, as Shubman Gill and Dhruv Jurel eventually got their team over the line with relative ease. There was no nerve-wracking ending, it was all handled rather dismissively by two players in their early twenties who were older than their years.

Gill did not unleash his big strokes but played level-headed and defied Bashir with a meaty defence, while Jurel looked like a seasoned veteran in his second Test as he immediately turned the match around with positivity to make fun of the tension in the match. sky.

After stunning in the series opener, India deflated England's much-hyped proactive style of play – or 'Bazball' as it is popularly known – to clinch the series and continue their remarkable home run.

India have not lost a home Test series against England since late 2012 – probably the greatest achievement by any team since the turn of the century and only becoming more improbable as the years go by.

Winning Test matches in India is simply the most difficult task in cricket and probably in the entire sport. India's home run of more than a decade has equaled Australia's all-conquering record – arguably the greatest team of all time – from their heyday in the 2000s.

India had shown some cracks after losing a Test match against Australia last year, only their third in almost 50 matches, and entered this series weakened without talisman Virat Kohli and several other high-profile players.

England, increasingly confident these days, benefited from an upset for the ages in the series opener as India looked to be the latest team to fall under the 'Bazball's hex', who have had a knack for rattling opponents who get sidetracked by its hysteria and the unconventional nature of it all.

But India remained steadfast and simply found a way out even when pushed to the brink. England were in an impressive position after day two, but 36 hours later they were left stunned and left to ponder how the series slipped away so suddenly.

Teams simply cannot have bad sessions in India, let alone bad days. Australia know this all too well, having dominated at times last year but ultimately fell short in a famous 2-1 defeat.

Despite some mistakes, England performed about as well as expected, especially given their inexperienced spin attack. Although 'Bazball' has been predictably criticized and widely derided as a gimmick, its aggressive approach will almost certainly crush inferior opponents Sri Lanka and the West Indies in the British summer. It won't be long before it is praised as ingenious again.

But 'Bazball', despite creating a stir, was not nearly enough to derail India in their domestic comfort, while England's dreams turned to dust like all those hapless tourists before them.




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