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Worst Test defeats for India in SENA nations since 2018

Last updated on 30 Dec 2023 | 11:51 AM
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Worst Test defeats for India in SENA nations since 2018

The current lot of the Indian team has registered some memorable overseas Test wins but there has also been a few forgettable losses

With the innings defeat in the Centurion Test, India have suffered their fifth Test defeat in a row in the SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) countries. Out of these five, the loss at Centurion was probably the worst, given the conditions and the fact that the opposition was a 10-man team, losing their captain to a hamstring injury in the first session of the Test. 

In this space, we look at the worst five defeats for India in SENA nations in the last five years. 

Lord’s, 2018 - lost by an innings & 159 runs

After a closely fought first Test at Trent Bridge, India’s surrender in the second Test was the most disappointing aspect of their defeat at Lord’s. No play was possible on Day 1 due to rain. By the time play ended on a stop-start Day 2, India were bowled out for 107 in their first innings. 

In response, England cruised to 396/7d at a run rate of 4.5. Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes forged a 189-run stand for the sixth wicket. Woakes amassed the only hundred of his Test career (as yet), scoring an unbeaten 137. Facing a deficit of 289, India capitulated again, this time for 130. 

The conditions were tough to bat first but India surrendered meekly. Cheteshwar Pujara’s run out right before a rain interruption was embarrassing. India averaged only 11.9 runs per wicket in the Test - their lowest in any Test match since 2018.  

India also missed tactics with the ball, picking two spinners in conditions where the pitch had little to no time for deterioration. On the contrary, England never had to bowl Adil Rashid, showcasing how India misread the conditions, leading to one of their most incompetent defeats at the Macca of Cricket. Despite heavy rainfall in the first five sessions of the Test, India succumbed to an innings defeat on Day 4. 

Wellington, 2020 - lost by 10 wickets 

India arrived at the shores of New Zealand with the hopes of clinching their first Test series in the easternmost Test-playing nation after a decade. However, the batting collapses ensured the wait grows longer. 

Put into bat, India never looked settled. They finished a truncated first day’s play at 122/5 and were bowled out for 165 within the first hour of play on Day 2. Kyle Jamieson, on debut, picked 4/39, pocketing Pujara and Virat Kohli as his first two Test wickets. The Kiwis were only two wickets down when they razed off that deficit and swelled their lead to 183. 

India, facing a mountainous task, were no match for the hosts’ efficiency with the ball for the second time in the match. Only formalities were left when New Zealand began their second innings. Chasing a target of 9, they won by 10 wickets. It was a collective failure with the bat as the visitors managed only one 50-run stand in the entire match. 

Adelaide, 2021 - lost by 8 wickets

Unlike the instances mentioned above, India were a lot more competitive in this encounter. Playing their first Day/Night Test away from home, India went toe-to-toe with Australia for a major part of the game. Kohli’s 74 in the first innings and collective bowling effort elevated India to a 53-run lead in the first innings. It was a handy number given India had accrued only 244 in their first effort with the bat and then bundled out the hosts for 191. Ravichandran Ashwin picked 4/55 in a Test match dictated by pacers. 

However, all hell broke loose in the second innings. Day 3 began with India 9/1 and thus leading by 62 runs. In the blink of an eye, they were done and dusted for 36, with every batter crashing down for a single-digit score. Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood shared nine wickets between them as every second delivery outside the off stump generated an edge behind the wickets. 

Australia cruised to the target of 90 and an eight-wicket win. What was supposed to be the moving day turned out to be the final day of the Test. 

India made a strong comeback in the remaining Tests to register a historic series win but the 36 all out - India’s lowest Test score - has gone in the annals of their Test history. 

World Test Championship Final, The Oval, 2023 - lost by 209 runs 

India’s second attempt in the WTC final was not much different than their first. They lost to New Zealand in 2021 but were competent for most of the game. On the second attempt, however, they never put any significant pressure on Australia. Their decision not to pick Ravichandran Ashwin created polarized opinions. But it was also the call of bowling first that came under scrutiny as India fell for the overcast conditions on Day 1. 

After taking 21 overs to dismiss both openers, Indian bowlers looked clueless during a 285-run stand between Steve Smith and Travis Head. Against Head, especially, India looked like they had not done their homework. The only time they exploited Head on his shortcomings against the short ball was when he had crossed his hundred. 

India also lacked application with the bat. Chasing 444, no Indian batter managed a fifty (Kohli scored 49, Rahane 46) and India suffered a 209-run defeat, squandering another opportunity to win an ICC trophy. 

Edgbaston, 2022 - lost by 7 wickets

The one-off Test at Edgbaston in 2022, the last of the five-match Test series that started in 2021, offered India a great opportunity to win their first Test series in England since 2007. A draw would have been enough to secure a 2-1 lead but the visitors were no match to the rejuvenated BazBall era of England cricket. 

India fought hard in their first innings. Hundreds from Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant carried India from 98/5 to 416. Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah picked seven wickets between them as India earned a vital 132-run lead in the first innings. 

But what makes it a forgettable defeat was the effort in the second innings. Bowled out for 245, India still had 378 runs in the bank to defend. England started well but India reduced them to 109/3. That was the last occasion of India celebrating in the game. 

Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow stitched an unbeaten 269-run stand to race England home. Their partnership run rate was 5.1 as the duo gave Indian bowlers no chance to exert pressure. On the final day, England were 119 runs away. Root and Bairstow amassed the deficit within 19 overs. 

In a similar vein to the recent loss in Centurion, this Edgbaston defeat was down to the bowlers more than the batters. 

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