Since December 2016, India have managed to breach the 600-run mark on five occasions. It’s a tremendous achievement by the batting unit as this speaks volumes of their dominance with the bat. Runs by the lower-order are always precious for the side and frustrating for the opposition. To add to India’s good fortunes, India have registered this record in last eight Test matches. And before this, they didn’t manage to score 600 in 47 Tests.
Let’s throws light on India’s 7-11 performances on all the five occasions, when India crossed the 600-run mark. At Galle, in the ongoing Test, India’s 7-11 accounted for 122 runs. Against Bangladesh in February earlier this year at Hyderabad, only Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja batted at 7 and 8, scoring 60 and 34 respectively. Before this, against England at Chennai in December 2016, India’s 7-11 chipped in with crucial 119 runs. And a game before in Mumbai, they had 145 runs shared between them. And against Australia at Ranchi in March this year, they stitched 190 runs. These were handy contributions as India played five specialist bowlers in three games while went with four in a solitary one whereas in the ongoing Test, Hardik Pandya is playing the role of an all-rounder.
The ongoing Test between Sri Lanka and India at Galle saw, India posting a massive total of 600 on the board in the first innings. After opting to bat first, Indian batsmen did a fantastic job in getting runs on the board and put the opposition under the pump. India’s top-order did well in laying the foundation but was well supported by the middle and lower-order. When the seventh wicket in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin fell for 47, India were well placed at 495. From this stage, a total of 600 looked a bit difficult. But once again, the lower-order stepped up and contributed with crucial runs to help India reach the landmark.
Debutant Hardik Pandya was at the crease but Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav did well in accompanying the maverick batsman and achieve fruitful results. Mohamed Shami scored run-a-ball 30 while Umesh Yadav took his chances to get and unbeaten 11 under his belt. Shami plundered three sixes with the bat while Yadav also cleared the boundary on one occasion. Pandya, who batted at eight, went on to score a fifty on debut.
Leaving the five specialist batsmen, India have a lot of options in the line-up to tinker with. The likes of Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja provide solid depth in the batting line-up and further stabilises it. At times, India have opted to play a specialist batsman at six and have often trusted their all-rounders and lower-order to get the required by playing five bowlers. Ravichandran Ashwin’s rise as a batsman has been phenomenal and has shouldered the responsibility well. In last two years, Ashwin has batted at six in nine games, scoring 417 runs at a healthy average of 41.70. At seven, Ashwin has still done a decent job in 11 games, averaging 30.09 in the last couple of years. Wriddhiman Saha is a recognized batsman who usually bats at 7. In 26 games so far, Saha has batted at seven on 18 occasions, averaging 24.31. But in last two years, Saha averages 71.25 while batting at eight. These are vital contributions coming from down the order.
Talking about Ravindra Jadeja, his run with the bat has further boosted India’s run. In last 15 Tests, Jadeja averages 37.06, which is huge. At seven, Jadeja averages 43 (in last two years). And in 11 games while batting at 8, Jadeja averages 34.08. Barring them, even the other batsmen have managed to chip in with crucial runs. Jayant Yadav has managed to garner 228 runs in four Tests, averaging 45 while batting at nine. Amit Mishra played nine Tests in last two years, averaging 16.69, which is handy from a specialist bowler. Even Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav averages 16.16 and 10 respectively in Tests played over last two years.
Talking about aggregate, India’s Number 7-11 has averaged 20.50 in the ongoing calendar year. And in 2016, they scored 1473 runs at an inspiring average of 31.34. The average of 31.34 is the second-highest from 7-11 for India in their Test cricket history. Countries like England and Australia, who are widely reckoned for contributions from 7-11, averages 16.56 and 15.85 in the ongoing year.
Contributions from India’s 7-11 in last two years:
India have developed into a force to reckon in Test format and are sitting at the apex of the ICC Test rankings. They have gelled well as a unit in last couple of years and covered almost all their bases. Runs coming from 7-11 will play a key role when India tour countries like South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand, where batting is difficult.
In the ongoing Test, at stumps on Day 2, India were in total command with Sri Lanka being precariously placed at 154 for the loss of five wickets. To add to their woes, Sri Lanka are a batsman short as Asela Gunaratne, who suffered an unfortunate injury while fielding and has been ruled out of the series. Sri Lanka are in hot water and will need something miraculous to swim out of this. India, on the other hand, will now look to clean them up as early as possible and impose the follow-on.