India’s journey to the WTC final


India had a topsy-turvy road towards the final of the second cycle of the World Test Championship. India started strong with a superb win against England away from home, taped in the middle of the tournament, and with 5 wins needed out of 6, stormed back to reach the final of the World Test Championship for the second time in a row.

Overall it was a campaign of ‘what-ifs’ as India missed the golden opportunity to win the series against England and South Africa away from home. Although they drew the series against England, they were badly beaten in the last test during the fifth test and chased down 373 without any hiccups. The South Africa series loss was a hard pill to swallow because India dominated and won the first test match and also was in winning positions during the last 2 test matches. India also failed to win against the stubborn Blackcaps at Kanpur who drew the test with just 1 wicket in hand. At that time, it felt that the draw would hammer India’s chances to qualify for the final.

Missed making history in England

India started their campaign with a high-octane series against England. Rain denied India victory in the first test where India needed 157 runs on the final day with 9 wickets in hand. The visitors kept their momentum going in the second test at the Lords, which would be etched in our memories for a very long time. Kohli’s men made England ‘feel hell out in the middle’ by bowling them out within 2 sessions of the last day. That was the best victory for the side in this WTC cycle. England bounced during the third test leveling the series 1-1. But India again produced a memorable performance for the ages on the flat road of the Oval pitch. The final encounter was then postponed due to covid outbreak. Had that contest happened during the scheduled time, India probably might have won against the misfiring England middle order.

The Kiwi Challenge

New Zealand toured India for the two test matches. Resilliant Blackcaps drew the first test match at Kanpur with Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel the heroes for New Zealand. But India thrashed the inexperienced Kiwis in the second test match at Mumbai by 372 runs. made history by picking all 10 Indian wickets during the first innings at Mumbai.

Disappointing SA tour

India then toured South Africa for a 3-match test series with high hopes of winning. They started with a bang beating the South African side by a margin of 113 runs. But the Elgar-led South African side roared back in the second test by  beating India by 7 wickets chasing a target of 243 without breaking any sweat. Despite a counterattacking hundreds from Rishabh Pant in the last test match, India were behind the game as their batting order had failed to deliver against the spicy Proteas bowling attack. India also missed the services of their in-form bowler Mohammad Siraj who got injured in the first test. Virat Kohli also missed the second test due to a back injury. Kohli dropped the bombshell of leaving the test captaincy just before the series started.

Demolished Sri Lanka

India blew away Sri Lanka in the two-test match series at home. Rohit Sharma captained India for the first time in whites. India won the first test by innings and 222 runs at Mohali. The second test match was a pink ball game where India kept dominating their neighbors beating them by 238 runs.

Bangladesh and the spin challenge

India then toured Bangladesh for a 2-match test series. Bangladesh has a very good record at home and it was supposed to be a stern challenge for India. But India negotiated the Bangladeshi spinners quite well as they beat them by 188 runs in the first test. Ashwin-Shreyas saved India from humiliation in the second test as the duo played a match-winning partnership of 71 runs for the seventh wicket chasing a target of 147.

BGT: The summit of all series

In the last series of the WTC cycle, India faced the biggest challenge at home facing the strong Australian side who had beaten Pakistan at home and drew the series against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka. India was without their star in form bad Pant and thus the series was supposed to be a very closely fought affair.

India thrashed the Aussies in Nagpur winning by innings and 132 runs. Jadeja on his return from injury was the man of the match with skipper Rohit scoring a crucial ton. Australia had their chances in the second test at Delhi but could not capitalize on big moments in the match. Axar-Ashwin’s partnership in the first innings was very pivotal for the hosts otherwise they would have conceded a big lead in the first innings. Australia in trying to ‘sweep’ their way out of trouble lost 9 wickets in a session as they could give India a target of 118. India won the second match by 6 wickets.

A long break helped Australia regroup as they unexpectedly thumped India in the third test at raging turner at Indore. India managed to score 109 and 163 in both innings as Australia won the test match by 9 wickets. India overcorrected their mistake by preparing a very flat pitch in the last test match. The test match resulted in a draw as Khawaja (180), Gill (128), and Virat Kohli (186) scored huge hundreds. India won the Border Gavaskar trophy for the fourth consecutive time by a margin of 2-1.

India will face the mighty Australians in the final of the WTC at Oval on 7th June. All eyes will be on the mega clash between two of the best test-playing nations. For the moment, India can enjoy their satisfying and hard-fought campaign in the WTC 2021-23 cycle.

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