I thoroughly enjoyed the India-England series despite the rather skewed scoreline at the end of it. There is something about adding the definitive 5th match that gives an epic scale to a Test series. I have this strange feeling of going into unfamiliar territory in following a Test series spanning 5 tests – is it unique to the post-Sunny generation of Indian cricket fans because India rarely played 5-test series over 2 decades. Although we were watching the Ashes and other series with substantial stakes, the emotional investment wasn’t quite the same.
Sachin played merely three 5-test series in his career whereas Kohli has already played 3 in seven years. To contrast, Gavaskar played six 6-test series in his career – the last of which was the home series against West Indies in 1983. I know SENA filter is the flavor of the season in cricket arguments at the moment, but perhaps we should start distinguishing between a series win in a 2/3 test-series vs a 4/5 test series. Interestingly, Kohli has seen both the pain and the joy of a 5-test series with his awful form in the previous tour of England offering no hiding place and now the redemption on this tour putting him at the center of the cricketing universe. But would a series tally of 593 runs make up for all the pain of 134 in 10 outings in the 2014 series? If it’s true for fans that losses hurt way more than victories give joy, wouldn’t cricketers feel similarly too?
Talking of Kohli’s tally this series where he marginally missed out on the 600 mark, this is an aspect of his batting which is so different from Sachin, isn’t it? He has already had three series aggregates of above 600 – including the 5-test home series against England in ’16 where he was in terrific form. It’s the other two which puts the Kohli phenomenon in perspective – he scored nearly 700 (692) in 4 tests in Australia in 2014-15 and the recent series against Sri Lanka at home where he scored 610 runs in a 3-test series. Even Dravid who had a monumental peak between 2002 to 2006 had only two series aggregate above 600. Sachin never had a series aggregate of 500 runs (493 in 2007-08 Aus series), leave alone 600. I assumed Sunny would have many, but was quite surprised to see even he had only two – and both of them were above 700 too, and as we all know he played only 4 tests in his debut series
Despite all the differences between Sunny and Sachin, there was a sense of passing the baton from one little master to the next when Sachin came on the scene. Apart from being the pre-eminent batsman in his team and perhaps batting at No. 4, there is so little in common between Sachin and Kohli.