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South Africa v India

India’s five best wins under Virat Kohli’s Test captaincy

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Virat Kohli stepped down as India’s Test skipper after seven years, a period in which the side climbed to the top of the rankings following memorable wins, and we take a look at the top five triumphs under him.

India v Australia, Bangalore, 2017

India were rarely tested at home under the leadership of Kohli, but Australia caused a huge upset when they won the first Test convincingly on their tour to the country in 2017. The second Test – in Bangalore – was turned into a closely-fought affair, after India were bundled out for 189 in the first innings, with Nathan Lyon taking an eight-for.

The hosts were in a spot of bother after Australia took an 87-run lead despite the efforts of Ravindra Jadeja, who ended with 6-63 in the innings. Needing a strong performance with the bat in the second leg, India managed 274, setting Australia a target of 188 runs. A successful chase would have meant taking a 2-0 lead for the tourists.

However, India’s bowlers, led by R Ashwin, brought out their best game, sending the visitors packing for only 112. The hosts went on to win the game, eventually sealing the series 2-1.

South Africa v India, Johannesburg, 2018

India’s period of sustained success away from home began with a clinical win over South Africa four years ago. Despite already trailing 0-2 in the series, India showed grit and determination on a tough wicket, opting to bat first in the third Test. Led by fighting fifties from Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara, the India team managed 187 on the board, seven runs less than what South Africa scored in their first innings.

The bowling was led by Jasprit Bumrah’s five-wicket haul, having made his Test debut earlier in the series. India would have fancied their chances after they reached 247 in the second innings, leaving the Proteas with a tricky 241 to chase down. However, the fast bowlers had other plans, dismissing them for 177 runs despite Dean Elgar carrying his bat through the innings. It was only India’s third win in the country in the format.

England v India, Nottingham, 2018

After coming close to winning the first Test, India were handed an innings defeat in the second match, but bounced back strongly to win the third one by 203 runs. Batting first, India saw off the new ball, and went on to pile 329 on the board, led by an excellent 97 by Kohli.

Hardik Pandya was the star with the ball, as his 5-28 helped dismiss England for 161. The visiting side dominated proceedings thereafter, making 352-7 declared, with Kohli making 103 in 197 deliveries. Set an improbably 521 for a win, England were all out for 317 as India recorded a fine win.

Australia v India, Adelaide, 2018

India started the series down under in 2018/19 with a clinical win against Australia in the first Test, paving the way for their first-ever series victory in the country. In a game where no team made more than 307 runs in either innings, it was the bowlers who stood tall.

The fourth innings had plenty of action: set 323 for a win, Australia lost wickets in a cluster upfront, but the equation soon got close with 64 runs left to get and two wickets in hand. Despite the tail-enders all getting starts, the hosts were eventually shot out for 291, giving India a memorable win by 31 runs.

England v India, Lord’s, 2021

This match had plenty of action, drama, emotions, some come-from-behind performances and could be counted as one of India’s best overseas wins. Led by openers who were struggling to make the XI at the start of the year, India notched up 364 in the first innings, but England eclipsed the total courtesy of an unbeaten 180 by Joe Root.

India’s second innings did not start as expected: they lost their first three wickets for 55 runs and were struggling at 209-8 before Bumrah and Shami came together to take the game away with the bat, helping them score 298-8 declared. The on-field atmosphere was charged up, with James Anderson and Jasprit Bumrah having a go at each other. With less than nine overs remaining in the match, Mohammed Siraj wrapped up the last two England wickets to hand India a fine win.

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