Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team is determined to rewrite history. After failing in South Africa and England, India will be aiming to achieve what no other team before them has. Success in the Test series against Australia in their own conditions will help the side overcome their overseas pains in a big way. The losses in England (thrice), South Africa (twice) and New Zealand (once) will all be blown away if the side achieves success in Australia. However, for that to materialise, Kohli’s side will not only have to battle the baggage of history but they will have to overcome their perennial problem which has haunted them on overseas tours.
When it comes to Tests in countries like South Africa, England and Australia, India have suffered batting collapses which have changed the course of the series. Some collapses came when the team was on the threshold of a win. In the previous cycle of 2013-15, this factor was the prime problem for India. In 2018, with two defeats overseas, it seems the lessons have not been learnt. Before Kohli departed for Australia, his pre-tour press conference summed up what the problem for the team was. “When we made the mistakes, it was extreme. We played good cricket, but the mistakes were extreme. We need to control a tough situation better and how to find a way out of it rather than getting out of it immediately,” Kohli said.
The extreme mistakes were the batting collapses. The fact that it has happened consistently is a worrying sign for Kohli and he needs to avoid a repeat of past instances when a collapse resulted in a loss for the side.
Down Under Drama
Kohli need not go very far to understand how batting collapses have cost India. In the 2014/15 series, India held the upper hand in Adelaide. The skipper had scored centuries in both the innings and India was poised for a famous win. Chasing 364 for a win, India were comfortably placed at 242/2 and Kohli was given good company by Murali Vijay on 99. However, when Vijay fell LBW to Nathan Lyon, a collapse began and India lost eight wickets for 73 runs. Lyon ended up with 7/152 and Kohli was out for 141 as India lost the Test by 48 runs.
The pain was repeated in Brisbane. In the first innings, India lost six wickets for 87 runs as they failed to ride on Vijay’s ton. In the second innings, India started off well at 71/1 but a devastating collapse of five wickets for 16 runs ensured that the match went in Australia’s favour. These instances of losing wickets in a bunch have not only hurt India in Australia, but the nightmare has been repeated even in South Africa and England.
2018 House of Cards
In the first Test in Cape Town, India threw away the advantage when they lost seven wickets for 92 runs in the first innings. In the second innings, while chasing 208, India suffered two collapses. They lost three wickets for nine runs and four wickets for 11 runs as they lost the match by 72 runs. In the Centurion Test, they lost seven wickets for 87 runs while chasing 287 to lose the match and the series.
The trend of collapses continued in England. In Edgbaston, a collapse of five wickets for 78 runs proved disastrous for India in their 31-run loss. In Lord’s, they were bowled out for 107 and 130. In Southampton, they lost four wickets for 16 runs in the first innings while in the second innings, they lost six wickets for 40 runs. India lost the series 4-1 after another collapse of five wickets for 20 at The Oval.
In each instance, the fact that India lost wickets in heaps was the key factor behind their losses. For Kohli to gain success in Australia, a repeat of the collapses must be avoided at all costs.