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Cricket news - India's home run in 2010s rivals the great Australian era

India's batting has always been string at home but it now has the cushion of incisive fast bowling at home

37 wins in 50 Tests. 16 series wins out of 18, including 12 wins out of the last 12. As we wind up the 2010s decade, beating India in India has to be undoubtedly the toughest assignment in cricket. As Justin Langer, the current Australian coach, confessed in his first ever media interaction, "There are some big tournaments coming up. But ultimately, if I fast forward it, the Indian Test tour in about three or four years time, to me that's the ultimate. We will judge ourselves on whether we're a great cricket team if we beat India in India."

In this piece, we look at how India have transformed from an earnest competitor at home in the 1950s to a near unbeatable unit post 1990. So where does India's dominant run at home in the current decade stand as compared to other teams. India has been a tough place to tour in the last 30-odd years even for sides from the sub-continent but this decade saw them taking their home dominance to another level - comparable only to the strong Australia side at the turn of the millennium.

Favourites at home but not as dominant

Since the start of 1988, India have lost just three rubbers at home out of the 49 bilateral series (including one-off Tests) they played, making it the toughest place to compete for visiting sides. India have won 37 out of the 50 matches they played at home since January 2010 which equates to nearly a win in three out of every four games. To put it in perspective, India won 38 Tests in the 20 years between January 1990 and December 2009 out of 77 they played. They lost 13 of those 77 in comparison to just four out of 50 in the current decade.

Though India first hosted a Test in 1933/34 season, the home Tests became a more regular fixture since 1950. In the next 40 years from then, India lost more Tests than they won in three of the four decades - 1950s, 1960s, and 1980s. The only exception being 1970s when the famed spin quartet of Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapali Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi, and Srinivas Venkatraghavan were at the peak of their powers. It was also the period that saw the emergence of one of India's great batsman - Sunil Gavaskar.

India - decade wise win-loss record

Since the turn of 1990, it has been a different story altogether. They were unbeaten in a series throughout the 1990s though Pakistan came close in 1999. In what was dark phase of Indian cricket at the turn of the millennium, in the shadows of match-fixing scandals, Hansie Cronje led South Africa to a 2-0 win in early 2000 - India's first series loss at home since 1986/87. The all-conquering Australian side of the 2000s finally breached the final frontier in 2004/05 with a 2-1 series win. Pakistan (in 2005), England (in 2006) and South Africa (in 2008) all came close to that elusive series win but had to make do with 1-1 draws.

India started off the 2010s decade against the mightiest South African side under Graeme Smith and the series ended with spoils shared at 1-1. India's only series loss in the current decade came against Alastair Cook's England who won 2-1 despite losing the first Test of that series. Since then India have won all the 12 rubbers they played at home, winning 28 of the 34 matches they played and losing just the one - against Australia in Pune in early 2017 at the end of a long season, in which they played 13 home Tests.

Spin continues to dominate but pace making a niche for itself

The two traditional pillars of India's strength at home are a strong batting lineup and a multitude of spin options. India have had a never-ending array of batsmen at their disposal who possess excellent records at home, especially in the last three decades. While the success in 1970s can be chiefly attributed to India's spin strength, in 1990s and 2000s it was India's strong top and middle-order having the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Mohammad Azharuddin, Virender Sehwag, VVS Laxman, Sourav Ganguly -- winning them games complemented by the spin attacks led by Anil Kumble.

While the trio of Kumble, Venkatapathy Raju, and Rajesh Chauhan pinned oppositions down at home in the 1990s, the batting was led by Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar. Statistically, the 1990s was the most dominant home decade for India spinners until then, as the tracks were tailor-made for it. Come 2000s, Harbhajan Singh came to the fore after a great series against Australia in 2000/01 and he proved to be indispensable for India at home in the next ten-odd years. In that decade Kumble and Harbhajan won the most Player of the Match awards at home -- six and five respectively -- to go along with five Player of the Series awards between them.

The baton of India's batting was passed on from Tendulkars and Dravids to Kohlis and Pujaras in the current decade. Virat Kohli (3558 runs) and Cheteshwar Pujara (3471 runs) top the list of batting charts with averages of 68.42 and 59.84 respectively, supported by Murali Vijay (2096 runs at 46.57), Ajinkya Rahane (1493 runs at 39.28) and Rohit Sharma (1325 runs at 88.33).

Indian spinners at home each decade

R Ashwin has been the mainstay of Indian bowling at home in this decade, taking as many as 254 wickets in 42 home Tests at 22.80. He joined forces with Pragyan Ojha at the start of the decade; later on Ojha's place was taken by Ravindra Jadeja. In the 33 Tests that Ashwin and Jadeja played together at home, India went on to win 25, losing just the one. Indian spinners averaged 25.40 in 2010s at home which is the best for them in a decade at home, just ahead of 25.45 they averaged in the 1990s, despite them playing 20 more Tests in the current decade. However, they had a strike rate of 57.8 which meant they took eight fewer balls for a wicket than the next-best decade (65.7 in 1990s).

Kapil Dev in 1980s and Javagal Srinath in 1990s had impressive home records but often lacked support from the other end to convert good individual performances into wins. Under Kohli, India have had multiple fast bowlers at its disposal, having varied skills to keep up the pressure from both ends.

However, India became a well-rounded attack only in the second half of 2010s thanks to the emergence of their pace bowling battery. Under MS Dhoni who led till 2014, it was spinners who called the shots at home with seamers playing largely a support role. India witnessed an emergence of its pace bowling stocks after Kohli took over the reins. In the 28 Tests played by India at home since January 2015, the seamers have taken 185 wickets at 24.19 and strike rate under 50 (49.6) - far better numbers compared to the first five years under MS Dhoni.

Spin vs seam for India at home - 2010 to 2014

Spin vs seam for India at home - 2015 to 2019

How does this run compare with the world's best?

Taking a threshold of 20 Tests at home in a decade for a team, there are as many as 50 instances of teams playing as many. In the pre-war era, only England and Australia used to play as many, but in the last 50 years it has been a regularity among teams.

India's win % of 74.00 in 2010s is surpassed only by one other team in a decade - the great Australian team in 2000s. That team led by Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting went on to win 45 of the 59 matches they played at home, losing just five. West Indies under Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, and Richie Richardson were unbeaten in a home series for the 20 years between 1974 and 1994. In the 1980s, they won 18 out of the 30 they played, losing just one (vs Pakistan, Georgetown, 1988). However, a significant number of draws (11) brings down the win percentage to 60.00.

The best home teams (20+ home Tests a decade)

* Australia are playing a series against Pakistan currently

The current decade has been easily the best for home teams with visiting sides losing more than half the number of away Tests. In the ten entries in the table above sorted by win percentages, four are from 2010s. However, India are on a different pedestal be it with the number of Test wins or series wins.

The current Indian team is comparable with the Australian side of 2000s in a host of parameters apart from similar win percentages. A positive difference between batting and bowling average is indicative of how good a team is performing in comparison to the opponents - Australia in 2000s averaged 45.20 with the bat and 28.34 with the ball giving a difference of 16.86 between the two parameters.

India in the current decade has done slightly better with the ball averaging 26.24 while their batting average of 42.63 falls slightly short of Australia's 45.20 in 2000s. As a result, the average difference for India read 16.39 which is just shy of Australia 16.86 but it establishes the direct correlation of the parameter with success rate. Collectively, these are the two largest differences between batting and bowling average for a team at home in a particular decade.

To find out at the dominance of wins, the winning margins have been categorized into three - innings wins, wins by 150+ runs and wins by eight-or-more wickets remaining. 16 of India's 37 home wins in the decade came by an innings margin making it the most for a team at home in a decade. They ended the decade with four innings wins making it the first instance of a team winning four successive Tests by innings margins. They have won another seven by 150+ runs and five others by eight or more wickets, giving them 28 out of their 37 wins to fall in this criteria. This is a significant rise from the previous decade where India had only 15 dominant wins from the 47 Tests they played.

Once again, the only other side with a higher share of dominant wins in a decade at home is Australia in 2000s, who won 13 by an innings margin, 12 by 150+ runs and nine by eight-or-more wickets, giving them 57.63% (34/59). The West Indies in 1980s also won 18 of their home Tests by substantial margins - with 14 wins falling in the category of dominant wins stated above.

Most dominant wins in a decade

This decade stood out for unprecedented home dominance for the major part with South Africa being the lone good travelling team in the first half. The last 12 months witnessed a change in this trend with New Zealand winning in UAE, England whitewashing Sri Lanka 3-0 away and India and Sri Lanka registering maiden series wins by Asian teams in Australia and South Africa respectively. Despite all this, winning in India remains the final frontier as the Australian coach Langer remarked, highlighting the elaborate preparations to win their next series in India which is still another couple of years away.

India end 2010s with unprecedented home dominance and they would like to extend this run overseas in the coming decade. After the West Indies of 1980s and Australia of 2000s, India in 2020s is well in line to become the next big dynasty in Test cricket's rich folklore.

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