Thursday, 16 October, 2008

Importance of a Drawn Test

Last year, on the eve of India's series against England, I wrote a post titled Q & A, which highlighted the importance of not losing the opening test of an away tour. The gist of the post was:

a) India has never ever managed to win a series abroad, after losing the opening test and b) Has managed to draw the scores level on only two occasions after losing the series opener.

(Fortunately MS Dhoni, Steve Bucknor and weather gods collaborated to save the opening test at Lords for India, and true to these statistics, India went on to win the series)

I wanted to check the corresponding figures for home series, but kept postponing it for one reason or the other. What drove me to revisit this issue again was the surprisingly strong tirade against the Indian team in general, and Anil Kumble in particular, after they drew the Bangalore test. There were very few words of appreciation on how the batsmen hung on to a comfortable draw on a difficult fifth day pitch.

So consider this:

Up until the current one against Australia, India has played 59 test series in last 75 years.

Of these, India has won 28, lost 15, and drew 16.

In 59 series played so far, India has lost the opening test 16 times, losing 11 of those series. Of the remaining five times when the team lost the first test, it managed to comeback and level the series thrice (1964/65 against Australia, 1987/88 against West Indies and 1998/99 against Pakistan) and also win it twice (1972/73 against England and the 200/01 'VVS special' against Australia)

As for the wins in the opening test, India has won the opener in 20 series so far. 17 of these have ended in series victories for them. Twice have the opponents come back to level the series (New Zealand in 1969/70 and West Indies in 1994/95). The only time India has lost a series after winning the opening test was in 1984/85, when Gavaskar and Kapil's famous spat clearly overshadowed even Azhar's dream debut.

There have been 23 series in which the opening test has ended without a result (including the 1986/87 tied test versus Australia). India has won 9 out of these series and drew 11.

Only thrice has India lost the series after managing to draw the opening test - twice against West Indies (1948/49 & 1958/59) and once against Pakistan (1987), which means that India's chances of winning or leveling the series shoots dramatically after drawing the opening test.

Bangalore test was indeed tricky for India. I have mentioned in my previous post that Indians had not won a test here in last 13 years. Moreover a defeat in first test would have most certainly meant curtains for the entire series. The Bangalore test has provided team India a strong foothold from where they can possibly dictate this series.
I, for one, would never underestimate the importance of a drawn test, especially the opening one!


Chandan said...

"As for the wins in the opening test, India has won the series opener in 20 series so far. 17 of these have ended in victories for them. Twice have the opponents come back to level the series (New Zealand in 1969/70 and West Indies in 1994/95). The only time India has lost a series after winning the opening test was in 1984/85, when Gavaskar's and Kapil's famous spat clearly overshadowed even Azhar's dream debut."

How did you forget the SA test series in 2006-07? There we won the 1st test at Jo'berg only to lose the second and third test to lose the series!

Gaurav Sethi said...

Good comeback, play on!

Sailesh Ganesh said...

Chandan, I think you will find that the analysis is only for home test series.

Balajhi said...


That's a good analysis and I agree with you on the importance of not losing the first test. In fact I don't have any complaint about the result in Bangalore.

My concern is this Indian team (the middle order) is slowing down. It's not able to produce runs at the volume required for a win. We have two good openers and one is a very good one. But they may not be able to set up a victory without the help of our slowing down middle order. In that scenario where is our next win going to come from? This thought gave me a strange feeling that hid my positive thoughts about the draw at Banglaore. This in fact is the essence of my article on TCWJ.

It's not that I am pessimistic but our middle order doesn't ooze confidence for me to be optimistic.

Cricket Guru said...

Hi welcome Chandan, NV, Shailesh and SD.


As Shailesh pointed out, I was refering to the home series. You will find the record for overseas series in the link provided in the main post.


You are clearly singing away to glory these days. Good wok man! I really enjoyed all of them.

Thanks Shailesh for pointing that out.


Thanks. This article was not a response to your's.

Gangulay and Tendulakr have batted beautifully and so has Dravid. VS is the only one to have missed out. Lets hope he come into his own in second innings

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SAP said...

India won that series in England.

live score said...

That's a very astute and comprehensive analysis and I will surely agree with you because, winning the first match of the series gives the winning team a psychological advantage over the losing team and the looser of the first match plays the other matches under pressure which is very difficult to overcome.So the Indians are also doing the same as all other teams do.

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