Stats Analysis

Stats – Inexperienced India break 112-year-old comeback record

All the numbers from the series where India out-Bazballed England

Sampath Bandarupalli


Young guns: Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel and Yashasvi Jaiswal celebrate India’s 4-1 win  •  AFP/Getty Images

The best comeback in more than 110 years

India could not have hoped for a worse start to their five-match series against England as they lost the first Test despite a 190-run first-innings lead. Only once before had India lost after taking a bigger first-innings lead – 192 vs Sri Lanka in 2015. Their previous highest at home was 65 runs against Australia in 1964. The 231-run target that India failed to chase in Hyderabad was the joint-second-lowest for them at home. But they bounced back in style by winning all four remaining matches.

With that, India became only the fourth team ever to win a series of five or more matches by a 4-1 margin despite losing the first match. The last of the previous three such instances came 112 years ago – England winning the five-match Ashes series in Australia in 1911-12. Australia did the same twice at home in the Ashes – in 1897-98 and 1901-02.

The highest difference was 31.36 during England's victorious Ashes series in 2005. Their average caps per player in the series was 27.33, while the visiting Australians had 58.69.

The 2011-12 Border-Gavaskar Trophy, where Australia whitewashed India 4-0, stands second on this list. Australia's average caps per player in the series was 30.54 less than India's.

Nine of India's 178 Test wins have come when their playing XI's experience (Test caps) was either half or less than half of their opposition's. Four such victories have come in this series alone.

Joe Root > India's XI

While India's win in Visakhapatnam ranked second in the ratio between their XI's Test caps and that of the opposition, the batting line-up (top six) India brought to the match had a combined experience of 107 Tests. More than half of those belonged to Rohit Sharma, with 55 Tests.

Rajat Patidar batted at No. 5 on his debut, and Axar Patel was the specialist No. 6. Though Axar's Test average was over 35 coming into the game, he had regularly batted at eight or nine earlier. Axar came in twice at No. 9 in his previous series against Australia and did the same in the first innings in Hyderabad.

India's playing XI in Visakhapatnam had only 10,336 Test runs between them before the start of the match, which was 1111 runs fewer than Joe Root's tally of 11,447. It was the first instance in 75 years at home that the career runs of India's playing XI were lower than a single opponent's batter.

There have been seven other instances in this period, but all away from home. Four of the seven were when they came up against either Jacques Kallis or Kumar Sangakkara in the opposition. Until 1948, India had 16 instances where their playing XI's career runs were less than one or more opposition players, all being in India's first 16 matches in the format.

England's experienced batters fail to deliver

England's three young spinners had only one Test cap between them before the series started. While they kept challenging their senior Indian counterparts in terms of wickets, they were behind when it came to the average runs per wicket. Tom Hartley, Shoaib Bashir and Rehan Ahmed picked up 50 wickets between them in 20 bowling innings combined, while R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav took 64 in 26 innings. But the Indian trio averaged 13 runs fewer than the visiting team's young spinners.

On the other hand, England's senior batters failed to pose much threat. Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow had all played 100 (or more) Tests by the time the series ended, including more than ten matches in India. But they were outclassed by India's debutants. England's trio collectively scored 757 runs, averaging 26.1, with only three fifty-plus scores.

The four Indian batters who debuted in this series scored 472 runs in half the number of innings and averaged 36.31 with five fifties. Sarfaraz Khan, Dhruv Jurel and Devdutt Padikkal scored 409 of those at an average of 58.43 in nine innings between them, whereas England's senior trio scored 473 runs in 18 innings at only 27.82 in the last three Tests.

A series for sixes and spinners

With Bazball being the talk of the town, one would have expected this Test series to scale new heights in boundary hitting. England had scored at four-plus runs per over in all the series played under Stokes and Brendon McCullum before arriving in India. Matching those expectations, this India-England series became the first in Test history to witness 100 or more sixes.

The milestone 100th six came in Dharamsala involving two players in their 100th Test - Bairstow off Ashwin. However, it wasn't England who kept sending the ball over the ropes. The young Indian team struck 72 sixes, well ahead of England's 30.

No team has ever hit 50 or more sixes in a Test series previously, but India got there in the first innings of the fourth Test. India hit 28 of their 72 sixes in the third Test in Rajkot itself, also a record. Yashasvi Jaiswal hit 26 sixes in the series, only four behind England, and comfortably broke the record for most sixes by a batter in a Test series.

This series also broke the record for most wickets taken by spin bowlers, with 129 going to them. The previous highest number of wickets by spinners in a Test series was 109, also during a five-match series between India and England in 1972-73.

Joe RootBen StokesJonny BairstowSarfaraz KhanDhruv JurelDevdutt PadikkalYashasvi JaiswalIndiaEnglandEngland in IndiaICC World Test Championship

Sampath Bandarupalli is a statistician at ESPNcricinfo

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