Statistician’s Journal : Is a Test series win in India the final frontier in cricket?

A test series win in India is really passing an acid test for any national team in cricket.


It is always tough to win a Test series in India, but has the last decade and a half been the toughest period ever to win in India or for that matter tougher than anywhere else in the world?

As the Indian winter continued to blow cold winds over the tourists – first New Zealand and England – with the puff of air tends to become chillier with passing day, let us for the sake of the current trend, sink in deep and divulge more details of our home invincibility.

India started playing Test cricket since 1932, but they became a force to reckon with possibly from 1970s (that’s what the decade-wise stats suggest). However, the team was very difficult to beat in their den at any point of time of their Test history.

Decade Played Won Lost Drawn/Tied
1930s 3 0 2 1
1940s 5 0 1 4
1950s 25 6 8 11
1960s 36 6 8 22
1970s 34 11 7 16
1980s 42 8 9 25
1990s 30 17 5 8
2000s 47 21 8 18
2010s (till now) 34 25 3 6


From the table, it’s quite evident that the visitors always have had a hard time winning a Test here and it got even tougher post-1990s. Coming to big defeats at home, the great West Indian side routed the hosts 3-0 twice in a 5 and 6-match series in 1958-59 and 1983-84 respectively. Both of Australia and England returned from India with wins by a margin of 3-1 in the 1970s. Only Hansie Cronje’s South Africa could whitewash (win all matches in a multi-Test series) India at home in a short 2-match series in early 2000. However, since that series and tour that sprang up many a case of match-fixing, the Indian team began to consolidate their foot at home with a remarkable spike.

There are some massive records of India at home in the 1990s. Since losing a series to Pakistan at home in early 1987, India went on undefeated in 14 (bilateral) series at home till their submission to the Proteas. Yes, between they lost a game at Eden Gardens in the Asian Test Championship in 1999 to arch-rivals Pakistan, but we can discount the case for being part of a tri-nation tournament played across four countries. In that period of almost 13 years, they just loss 5 Test matches at home.

Also Read: Stats Journal: When a 400-plus first innings total is safe as houses in India

Since 2000, India has been more prolific in the longest format in their lair. They lost just two series – one against Australia in 2004 and the other against England in 2012 – but in each case they went on to win a match. Apart from the all-drawn 2-match series that New Zealand visited India for in 2003, the hosts won at least a game in all home series since 2001. With just 3 losses from 34 Tests since 2010, India has not lost a Test at home in their last 19 outings now – winning an astounding 16 of them.

With their walloping of the Englishmen 4-0 lately, India now have bragging rights over all Test-playing nations at home. Going by the last time each of these nations visited India, we look at how they were greeted as visitors.

Team Year Losing Margin
Australia 2013 4-0 (4)
England 2016 4-0 (5)
New Zealand 2016 3-0 (3)
Pakistan 2007 1-0 (3)
South Africa 2015 3-0 (4)
Sri Lanka 2009 2-0 (3)
West Indies 2013 2-0 (2)
Zimbabwe 2002 2-0 (2)


Bangladesh will visit India for their first Test ever in a one-off Test series (Durjoy-Ganguly series) in February next year. Along with Bangladesh, if India can beat Australia in March, then Kohli and co will win each of the most recently played bilateral series against all Test playing nations individually. They currently have their last series status against Bangladesh as drawn (0-0) and lost series (0-2) in Australia two years back.

Coming to the important stats (since 2001) of the top 5 nations in their backyard, we find India have lost the least at home – once again driving home the fact that it is the toughest to beat them at home than any other nation.

Team Played Won Lost Drawn W/L ratio
Australia 92 64 12 16 5.33
England 110 62 24 24 2.58
India 77 45 9 23 5.00
South Africa 77 45 20 12 2.25
Sri Lanka 80 44 17 19 2.59


Though Australia and England have won more matches and series than India with many more whitewashes on their visitors, they could not boast some of the resilience that India could boast of. While India has lost only two series, Australia lost four and England five. While India won at least a game in each of their lost causes, Australia could not take a Test over South Africa in 2012 and England failed in three different occasions. India lost both of them by a margin of 1-2 – but Australia had a pathetic 1-3 Ashes loss to England in 2010 while the Englishmen surrendered 1-4 in the 2001 Ashes and 0-2 to South Africa in 2012.

So going by the latest performance, it looks as if the world looks up to a Test series win India as the final frontier being conquered. With the hosts now sitting pretty at the top in the rankings by a good margin, it’s no rocket science that the job of capturing India got tougher than it was ever. Going by the recent trends, India might not just become tougher to swallow up but they will certainly dish more severe treatments to the touring sides in the years to come and go worse than what most visitors suffer Down Under. So the upcoming touring sides to Indian shores are really having sleepless nights more over calculating on their heavy margin of defeat than their possible chances of saving their grace.

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