Eng v Ind Ollie Pope of England catches the ball to dismiss Ishant Sharma of India

Published on August 14th, 2018 | by Arunabha Sengupta

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How daunting a task is it for India to come back in the series?

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“The Indians do not have history on their side. And as things stand,  the current affairs don’t lean heavily towards them either”

How daunting is the task in front of India? Namely, to come back in the series from being 2-0 behind?

Three Tests are left, right? It is still possible to win the next three and emerge victorious with a 3-2 scoreline.

Well, theoretically the answer is yes.

They can also come back strongly, win a couple and draw the other to finish 2-2.

Again, theoretically, that is correct.

And I am not even going into the complications of suddenly starting to win Test matches away from home in English conditions after four of the top five batsmen in the batting order have proved to be glorified passengers.

I am just trying to figure out how rare it is to turn things around in such circumstances by leafing through the pages of history.

The answers are rather discouraging.

Yes, coming back from being 0-2 down to end up winning 3-2 in a 5-Test series has been done. However, there is just one instance in the 140-year history of Test cricket.

That took place way back in 1936-37.

It was carried out on home turf, by Australia.

The architect of the turnaround was a certain bloke called Don Bradman.

The Australian captain was not having a good time with the bat in the series.

After being dismissed for 38 and 0 at Brisbane, he scored another duck at Sydney before returning to form with 82 in the second innings.

After falling for 13 in the first innings at Melbourne, Bradman changed his batting order around to combat the rain-affected wicket. And then he struck 270 in the second essay, considered by many to be the greatest innings ever played. Riding on his genius, Australia made it 1-2. He followed it up with 212 at Adelaide and 169 when the series returned to Melbourne. Gubby Allen’s men were defeated 3-2.

That remains the only instance of a team having come from 0-2 down in a Test series and ending up winning it.

And there remains only one freak of the Bradman variety in the annals of the game.

Virat Kohli has 240 runs and averages 60 in the four innings he has played in the tour so far. The rest of the men who have batted in the top 6 have a cumulative aggregate of 216 runs at 10.80.

It is difficult to conjure up a Bradman from such shambles.

There have been three further instances when teams have come back from losing two Tests in a series and finishing level on 2-2.

A virtually unknown series in 1927-28 saw men like Herby Taylor, Buster Nupen, George Bissett and Alfred Hall of South Africa pull it back from a 0-2 deficit against a England side with men like Wally Hammond, Herbert Sutcliffe and Tich Freeman playing for them.

The sustained brilliance of Len Hutton and his determination as the first professional captain of the modern era had England coming back from 0-2 down in the West Indies to tie a rather fractious 1953-54 series 2-2.

Three years down the line, Hugh Tayfield spun South Africa to a 2-2 draw against Peter May’s supremely strong Englishmen.

The phenomenon has not been repeated since then, across the next 51 years.

So, as one can see, coming back from 0-2 behind and either levelling the series 2-2 or going on to win it 3-2 is possible, but such instances are very, very rare.
Teams have come back from being 0-2 down in a long series. But such instances can literally be counted on the fingers of one hand, with the thumb to spare.

The Indians do not have history on their side. And as things stand,  the current affairs don’t lean heavily towards them either.

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About the Author

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Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and the author of Sherlock Holmes and the Birth of The Ashes. He tweets @senantix.



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