There were lot of noise made around India's 0-3 whitewash in the ODI series against New Zealand recently, but the fact was there was no Rohit Sharma and two of India's and the world's best players currently - Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah failed to have any impact in the series. That in itself was half the battle won for the Kiwis, they just ensured they won the remaining bit to hand India a thrashing. The series result would surely have made clear the areas where this Indian team need to focus on in terms of selections and team combinations.
Now, the focus shifts to the two-match Test series that starts in Wellington from tomorrow (21st February, 2020). India have been a league above the rest from the onset of the ICC World Test Championship. India have played seven matches and have won every game so convincingly that everyone watching hopes for a challenge. They brushed aside West Indies, South Africa and Bangladesh in the most ruthless way possible. And the biggest visible improvement seen was how well the fast bowling attack dominated in home conditions leaving very little for the spinners to do.
Here's looking at three reasons as to why India will continue their dominance at the top of the ICC World Test Championship standings:
India know how to win Test matches and Virat Kohli's form
This Indian Test team know how to win in every condition. Their attitude speaks for themselves when you see them operate. They have worked on the weaknesses of the oppositions and attacked them accordingly. It's the self belief and exuberance of confidence in their abilities that have seen even players like Mayank Aggarwal, who just recently debuted, blossom so well.
The two-match Test series against New Zealand could well be the toughest challenge for Kohli and his men since the start of the ICC World Test Championship. And there is also the fact that Kohli is the #1 batsman in International Cricket Council's (ICC) rankings for Test batsmen for the second successive year. With 928 points, Kohli has ended the previous year as the numero uno batsman in Test cricket. He will be looking to continue that golden run of form in 2020 as well.
India have got proven Test specialists and match-winners in their side
In modern times, when there is so much cricket that's been played accross different formats, its a luxury to have players who are Test specialists. For fans of the game who enjoy white-ball cricket and the fast-paced action that those games offer, players who feature only in Tests may not allure or interest them that much. But having such players in the squad is a huge bonus for any team.
India are extremely lucky to have players who have been slotted as Test match specialists like Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wridhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ishant Sharma. All of these players have indiviually won games and series for India in the recent past. Considering how prolific Pujara was in the Tests against Australia where he accumulated 521 runs in four matches, he would be the key person Kohli would rely on to repeat such heroics in tough, swinging conditions in New Zealand.
India's fast bowling attack is a nightmare for any opposition
It's not very often you get 4-5 bowlers coming from India and bowling regularly over 140 kmp/h and wreak havoc on the opposition batsmen irrespective of the conditions. Well, thats a reality and a really pleasant one where the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are winning matches on their own, even in spin friendly conditions at home.
India’s combined Test fast bowling average of 15.16 in 2019 was the best for any team in any calendar year (minimum three matches in the year) in 67 years! India’s combined Test fast bowling strike rate of 31 in 2019 was the best for any team in any calendar year (minimum three matches in the year) in Test cricket history only after England in 1888 (27.7).
The pace trio of Shami, Ishant and Umesh together scalped 95 wickets among themselves in 2019, five matches out of which they didn't have Jasprit Bumrah in the playing X1. These statistics should give enough evidence of what the Kiwis would be against in the upcoming Test series; the better the pitches are for fast bowlers, the more are the chances of the pace quartet to strike and strike big.