2020 has finally knocked on the door. It’s the time to chart a roadmap for the future and work on scaling the previously unchartered territories. Team India had great 2010s. Across all the three formats, Kohli’s men were comfortably the most consistent side of the past ten years.
But, despite all the success, there are still a few things that India didn’t achieve in the past ten years; something that should be on their bucket list in this new decade. Besides that, the Men in Blue did tick a few boxes in the 2010s, something which they will be eager to do an encore of in the next few years.
Here’s a look at five things that should be on Team India’s bucket list in the 2020s:
5. Test series win in New Zealand
Last Won- 1-0 in 2009
India has played just two Tests on New Zealand soil since their 1-0 win in 2009, which is a shame really, considering how keenly contested games have been between the two sides. India kickstarts its new overseas Test cycle with the much-awaited 2-match Test series in New Zealand in February. And, the series is important for the Men in Blue for more reasons than one.
While Kohli’s men will be looking to further consolidate their position in the Test championship table, they will also be looking to not only continue with the good work they have done on recent overseas tours (Australia and West Indies, 2019) but also avenge the 0-1 defeat they suffered on New Zealand soil back in 2014.
And, considering the fact that New Zealand in their own conditions is a different beast altogether, winning a series there, would go a long way in India reaffirming that they really are- Home or Away- the best Test side in the world
4. Test series win in England
Last won- 1-0 in 2007
When India last won a Test series in England, MS Dhoni was yet to make his captaincy debut for India, none of the Fab-Six in Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, and Anil Kumble, had retired, the IPL was still a distant dream and Australia was still the reigning defending world champions.
2007- that’s how long it has been. Since that triumphs in the summer of 2007, Indian sides have travelled to England, sometimes they have competed while on other occasions- 2011 & 2014-Lord’s- they have returned with their tail firmly between their legs.
Virat Kohli too has had a love-hate relationship with England. From seeing his technique challenged against the incisive seam-and-swing of James Anderson and co in 2014 to slaying his demons as a batsman on the subsequent tour of 2018, where he scored 599 runs besides getting involved in poetic violence with Anderson, Kohli has seen it all as a batsman on English soil.
But, what Kohli hasn’t seen is his Indian side triumphing over England in their own den. He had that chance in 2018 but a combination of team-selection bloopers and inability to seal the crucial moments led to a 1-4 defeat. Now that scoreline can be misleading. It was a keenly contested series where India had a great chance of winning at Edgbaston and Southampton, but a certain Sam Curran and the inability of their bowlers to dislodge the tail and lack of application by the top-order paved way for the eventual scoreline.
But, Kohli and his No.1 Test side in the world will have another chance to undo the wrongs of the past in 2021 when the Men in Blue travel to the English isles for a five-match series- their first away series in the 2021-2023 ICC Test Championship cycle.
3. T20 World Cup
Last won- 2007
“In the air, Sreesanth…takes it! India Win” – those words of Ravi Shastri in the immediate aftermath of India’s T20 World Cup in the inaugural edition are now immortal in the cricketing folklore. But that was 13 years ago. Since then, India have won 50-over World Cups’, Champions Trophies’, become the No.1 Test side in the world, but the T20 World Cup has always alluded.
While the team’s performance in the 2009, 2010 and 2010 editions of the World T20 wasn’t up to scratch, the past two editions- 2014 and 2016- has seen Team India falter when it mattered the most. While in 2014, it was Sri Lanka’s pristine death-bowling and Yuvraj Singh’s struggles that led to him ending up as runners-up, in 2016, the no-balls by Ashwin and Hardik Pandya and their conservative approach with the bat led to their undoing.
Virat Kohli has been the leading run-scorer and the recipient of the ‘Player of the Tournament’ award in the past two editions but, on both occasions, the champion cricketer was led down by his teammates. With two back-t0-back T20 World Cups coming up- in Australia  and in India - there will never be a better chance for Kohli and his men to break the 13 years of drought.
2. Beat Australia in Australia again
Last Won- 2-1 in 2018-19
Beating Australia in their own den is a stuff of dreams for any visiting side. And, if you are a side coming from the subcontinent, it’s not even a dream, its a wild, outrageous fantasy. For 70 years, Asian sides boasting of the greatest names you can think of, travelled to Australia with that burning desire to outsmarting the Kangaroos on their home soil, and while they had their individual moments of glory, their eventual dream could never materialize into reality.
Virat Kohli and his group of men achieved that fantasy last summer where they not only grounded the famed Aussie bowling attack into the dust but also managed to outbowl their counterparts. It was a historic achievement for Team India and its fans who had endured years of heartbreak while watching their side capitulate with bleary eyes on cold winter mornings.
But, every time someone rejoices India’s epic triumph in Australia, they are met with a counter-argument that Smith and Warner were not a part of the Australian side which is unfair because you can only beat the opposition that is pipped against you. But that wouldn’t be the case in the upcoming summer when Virat Kohli’s men travel Down Under, giving Team India a great chance to do an encore of 2018 against a Smith-Warner clad Australia, and finally shrug off all the apprehension in those who think that the absence of the duo was the reason behind India’s win.
1. First-ever Test series win on South African soil
Last Won- Never
In the 2010s, Team India ticked a lot of boxes and scaled a lot of unchartered territories like winning a Test series in Australia [2-1 in 2018-19] and bilateral ODI series wins in South Africa [5-1 in 2018] and Down Under [2-1 in 2019]. But, if there is one territory that India has never scaled in their proud cricket history is winning a Test series on South African soil. They came close to doing that at the turn of 2010 [1-1] but for that match-saving innings by Jacques Kallis at Newlands.
Another opportunity of finally winning the maiden Test series in the rainbow nation was squandered by Virat Kohli’s men in the winter of 2018 [1-2] where a combination of team-selection bloopers [Read: Dropping Rahane and Bhuvneshwar in the first and second Test respectively] and the inability of the batting unit sans Virat Kohli to counter the conditions paved way for another heartwrenching ordeal.
India will tour South Africa in the second cycle of the ICC Test Championship where Virat Kohli’s men will once again get the opportunity to script history, they squandered in 2018.S
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