India’s historic test series win against Australia on Australian soil was path-breaking in more ways than one. It reversed the normal gap that Australia enjoyed over India in multiple departments of the game. For once, India had a large bowling gap in its favour, with a much better average on a per-bowler basis.
This Business Standard analysis, based on ESPNcricinfo data for Indian matches against Australia played in Australia, shows that the batting average of Team India, led by Virat Kohli, also showed a similarly wide gap over Australian batsmen.
The batting average is based on total number of runs scored divided by the innings played by the run-scorers. Innings in which batsmen remained unbeaten were excluded. Sixteen Indian batsmen played a total of 69 innings, including seven not-outs. This meant that every time an Indian got out in the middle, he added an average of 32.72 runs to the board. For Australia, the average was 24.6 runs.
This eight-run gap in favour of India is higher than those seen for previous decades going back to the 1980s. It is also a break in tradition from the recent past. The period between 2010 and 2018 saw a 20-run gap in favour of Australia. The average Australian innings added 49.6 runs to the board then, compared to India’s 29.1.
The bowling average is a measure of how many runs a single wicket cost. The Indian bowlers gave away 25 runs for every wicket taken. The Australian bowlers gave away 33.6 runs. This lower bowling average was primarily helped by the wickets taken by India’s fast bowlers, despite pace typically being considered a weak part of Indian bowling. No wonder then that this is being lauded as a new dawn for Indian fast bowling.
The ratio of wickets taken by pacers to spinners was 2.5. This means that fast bowlers took 2.5 wickets for every wicket taken by an Indian spinner. This is a contrast to earlier decades like the 1980s. Spin bowlers dominated then, accounting for 51 wickets, compared with 39 for pacers — a pace-spin ratio of 0.8 for that decade. This was despite the presence of Kapil Dev.
All of this has meant that India’s win-loss ratio in the current series is a far better one than in the past decades. The 1980s was a relatively good decade, but even then India managed to win only one match and lose another for a win-loss ratio of one. There were four draws in the six matches played during that period.
The win-loss ratio, like the batting and bowling averages, is also better than the period between 2010 and the beginning of the present series. India played eight matches in Australia during that period. Two were drawn. Six were lost. Not a single match was won.