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Stats: Why India are the worst travellers in Test cricket

A closer look at India's statistics in Test cricket overseas over the last few years.

TOP CONTRIBUTOR
Stats 16 Jan 2015, 21:00 IST
1.82K
India have been at the receiving end of many heavy overseas Test defeats recently

I spent the last couple of days trying to defend India’s awful Test performances overseas. The result was my previous article titled, “India don't win Test matches abroad, but neither do others”.

Considering how poor India’s Test record has been, I had to carefully choose my stats in order to defend the team’s performances. As the former Indian opener Navjot Singh Sidhu had once said, “Statistics are like miniskirts.” So now, let’s see what the miniskirt did not reveal.

I had conveniently chosen Test matches from July 2007 and established India have a win-loss ratio of 0.33 against major Test teams (excluding Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and West Indies) while playing away. If I shift the date by only one year, i.e. July 2008, the same ratio becomes 0.26.

Win/Loss ratio against major Test teams since July 2008:

Country

Win

Loss

W/L Ratio

AUS

9

19

0.47

ENG

7

13

0.54

IND

5

19

0.26

NZL

3

14

0.21

PAK

3

16

0.19

RSA

11

4

2.75

SRL

3

12

0.25

However, India still manages to stay ahead of Sri Lanka (0.25), New Zealand (0.21) and Pakistan (0.19). So, what really makes India’s performance abysmal?

The manner of defeats unacceptable

There is a lot more than the number of wins and losses in India’s performance. It is the manner of defeat that makes India appalling. If we consider defeats by high margins (i.e. either innings defeats or defeats by more than 7 wickets or 150 runs), India’s performance is clearly the worst.

A colossal 15 of India’s 19 overseas defeats have been by such embarrassingly high margins. No other team has more than 10 such cases. This means that India have lost meekly with batsmen collapsing and bowlers being exceptionally magnanimous more often than not.

In fact, 8 of these losses were innings defeats. No other team managed more than 5.

The table below shows the list of innings defeats by every country in away Tests since July 2008 (record in unfavourable conditions highlighted in yellow):

List of innings defeats in away Tests

If we see the performance of subcontinent teams (India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) outside Asia and that of non-subcontinent teams (Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa) in Asia, India’s gulf with other teams increases further. Seven of India’s eight losses by an innings have come in conditions outside Asia. Sri Lanka, who are blessed with far lesser talent, have been consigned to such heavy defeats on just 3 occasions.

In a nutshell, India’s record does not look too bad when some convenient pieces of information are pulled out. A comprehensive and detailed look at the stats, however, will show that India have been the worst travellers in Test cricket over the last few years and deserve every bit of the criticism they have been facing.

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