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Test cricket - Here to stay 

Kumar Rishabh
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
273   //    18 Oct 2017, 22:08 IST

Test cricket
The longest format of the game has stood the test of time and has evolved much to the delight of the fans

Test cricket is the most traditional format of the game and is considered as the ultimate test for a batsman or a bowler. The history of Test cricket dates back to 1877 when Australia and England played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for the first time ever.

From the timeless Test matches to Day and Night ones, fans of Test cricket have witnessed a number of changes over the years.

Since 2010, every Test series featuring a minimum of two Test matches have seen a winner. In the past decade, more than 80% of the Test matches have yielded results.

This year was also no different with many results that shocked various cricket pundits. The uncertainty in this format of the game has made it more interesting than ever. 

Australia breaks its jinx in Asia

Steve O Keefe Australia Cricket India
Steve O'Keefe played a pivotal role in Australia's win at PuneAustralia visited India with the haunting memories of the thrashing they received the last time they played here fresh in mind.

They had lost their previous nine Test matches they played in Asia and not many gave them a chance and said that it would be another whitewash for them as the Indian cricket team was on a roll. But the pitch had a different say about it.

The Indian fortress got breached at Pune for the first time since 2002. In the opening match of the series, the Australian spinners were able to hamper the Indian batting line up with their spell.

Australia defeated India under three match days and won the match by a margin of 333 runs. Steve O’Keefe was the tormentor who took a five-wicket haul in both innings.

India were unable to deal with the turn and the slowness of the Pune pitch. Though Australia went on to lose the series by a margin of 2-1, this match showed that if you have players suitable for the match or pitch conditions and willing to apply themselves, nothing is impossible.

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Bangla Tigers - A team on the rise

New Zealand v Bangladesh - 1st Test: Day 2
Shakib celebrating his hundred against the Kiwis

The performance of the Bangladesh cricket team in recent years has been phenomenal. They clinched the ODI series against Pakistan, India and South Africa and made it to the semi-final of the 2017 Champions Trophy.

With their success in the limited-overs format carrying over to the longer format of the game as well, it was certain that it would not be an easy task for Australia to repeat the success that they got in 2006 the last time the two teams met in a Test series.

Dhaka hosted the series opener and witnessed the historic victory of its team over the Aussies. Many might argue that it is not one of the strongest Australian team in history, but a win against them is always one to cherish.

Bangladesh defeated Australia by a margin of 20 runs, with the help of an all-around performance by Shakib-Al Hasan. Shakib took a five-wicket haul in each of the innings and contributed with the bat as well, especially in the first innings.

Australia did, however, manage to pull things back by winning the 2nd Test and was able to salvage its pride.

West Indies' heroic chase

England v West Indies - 2nd Investec Test: Day Five
West Indies' win over England came as a welcome surprise for Test cricket

West Indies performance over the years has been one on the decline. They have shown glimpses of their glory days of the past when playing in the shortest format of the game.

But in the all-whites, their performance has been dismal whether playing at home or outside. Things were looking were terrible as they lost the first Test against England at Birmingham under 3 days by a margin of an innings and 209 runs.

They badly needed someone to build the innings and perform extraordinarily to help their cause.

In the second Test match at Leeds, West Indies chased down the target of 322 against the English bowlers which had the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad in full swing.

Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite steered the ship in both innings, with the former becoming the first person to register twin hundreds in Headingley.

It was brave on the part of Root to declare his team’s 2nd innings but the West Indies were one step ahead of them.

With the unlikely win, West Indies pretty much proved that they are to Tests what Pakistan is to ODIs, sparkling a miracle every time you dispute their existence. 

Herath spinning Pakistan

Pakistan v Sri Lanka - 1st Test
Pakistan v Sri Lanka - 1st Test

In the recent past, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have locked horns several times at different venues.

Sri Lanka who got a thumping from Team India in their own backyard, were badly looking to prove a point. For Pakistan, it would be the first time they would be playing post the era of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.

The first match of the series was in Dubai, and the pitch seemed a batting paradise. The first 11 sessions saw 841 runs being scored with the bowlers being made to toil.

It seemed the match was heading for a certain draw but a classy spell of spin bowling by Yasir Shah after tea on the 4th day meant that a result was still on the cards.

With a target of 136 runs on the final day, Pakistan were in the driver’s seat. But Rangana Herath was in the mood of doing something special as he has done time and again against Pakistan.

He took six wickets during the Pakistan run chase as they succumbed to a total of 114. Sri Lanka managed to clinch victory from the jaws of defeat - all down due to the heroics of their 40-year-old spinner.

In the process, Herath also became the first bowler to take 100 Test wickets against Pakistan, continuing his love affair with them.

Test cricket is here to stay...

With the emergence of the charismatic T20 format, many thought that Test cricket would slowly fade away but it has stood its ground firmly.

With Test matches yielding more results than ever before, the love for this format of the game is coming back. The unpredictability of the lowly ranked teams has made it more interesting.

Some more initiatives can be taken to restore the most extended format of the game. Popularising Day and Night Test match being one as it has proved to draw more spectators.

Slowly but surely, the extended form of the game is getting its charm back and will continue to give more happy moments to all the cricket fans around the globe.

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Kumar Rishabh
CONTRIBUTOR
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