Kolkata: It is indeed a rare sight to see the Indian team lose in recent times. And it is even more shocking to realise that the number one Test team actually succumbed to a heavy 333-run loss at the hands of the visitors, Australia.
The men in baggy green were pumped up right from the very beginning of the series as to they were going toe-to-toe against a team that has been nearly unstoppable in recent times. But they actually did quite well in outplaying the Indian team in their own backyard as the hosts faced an embarrassing loss that, without a doubt would raise a lot of questions. However irrespective of the defeat, India’s skipper Virat Kohli and ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin retained their positions in the ICC rankings as per the latest updates of the same.
The men in blue would love to forget this match in Pune as quickly as they can because it was an absolutely humiliating outing, in all senses of the term. They did well with the ball on the very first day courtesy some fiery bowling by Umesh Yadav but other than that, it was a thorough dismal performance in all the other areas of the game.
Nonetheless, the Indian skipper retained his second spot in the ICC Test batsman rankings. The Indian off-spinner Ashwin too held on to the number one spot in the ICC Test bowler rankings. Kohli’s scores of 0 and 13 and Ashwin’s match figures of 7-182 in the lost test match in Pune did not trouble their positions in the ICC rankings. However, Indian opener KL Rahul attained a career best 46th rank after scores of 64 and 10.
If there’s someone who has gained a considerable lot from this test match in Pune, it has to be the Australian skipper Steve Smith. With scores of 27 and 109 in the match, he not only consolidated his number one position in the rankings for Test batsmen but also gained career best rating points-939 which is the sixth best to legends like Don Bradman (961 points), Len Hutton (945 points), Jack Hobbs and Ricky Ponting (both 942 points) and Peter May (941 points).
According to an ICC release, Smith eclipsed the likes of greats like Viv Richards, Gary Sobers and Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara who all had a career best ranking points of 938. Smith now leads his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli by 66 points and Englishman Joe Root by 91 points, who is at the third place currently with 848 credits to his name.
Smith was however not the only gainer in the Australian camp. Youngster Matt Renshaw who had to leave the field on the first day of the test match due to a stomach bug had scores of 68 and 31 which pushed him 18 places upwards to reach to the 34th position in the batting rankings.
Man of the match Steve O’Keefe who destroyed the Indian batting in both the innings returned with impressive figures of 12-70 which propelled him 33 places to reach to a career best 29th position in the Test bowlers list, led by Ashwin who has 878 points to his name. O’Keefe, in the process also bowled the cheapest figures for a 12 wicket haul in Test cricket , going past ICC Hall of Famer George Lohmann’s 12 for 71 against South Africa at Johannesburg in 1896.
Ravindra Jadeja, Ashwin’s spin bowling partner however, has some company at the second position in the form of Aussie paceman Josh Hazlewood who has 860 points to his name. Hazlewood’s second position in the bowlers list is his career best.
Indian speedster Umesh Yadav who broke the back of the Australian batting in the first innings returned with figures of 6-71 which saw him gain four places to reach to the 30th rank. In the meantime, Mitchell Starc has gained three places to reach to the fourth position in the list of all-rounders after he played crucial knocks of 61 and 30. The left-arm paceman who is at the tenth position in the bowlers’ list also has gained 27 slots to reach to the 61st position, in the list of Test batsman.
Australia having won the first match against the hosts would like to carry on with the momentum and try to gain a 2-0 lead in the second game. Virat Kohli and his boys would however want to bounce back as soon as they can and justify their position as the number one ranked Test team. Bengaluru would witness a tough competition nonetheless.
(With inputs from PTI)