The last time an Indian Test team lost a series at home was in late 2012, to England. Since then, they have won 11 home series in a row. Except for the 2017 rubber against Australia, the Virat Kohli-led side have never seemed in any danger of losing. One thrashing of a visiting side has been followed by another.
So, is there any way in which India can be overpowered on their home soil? In cricket, nothing is impossible. While the Indian team is looking very strong at the moment, a team with the necessary weapons and good strategy can get the better of them.
So, let's look at the formula for beating India on their own turf in Test cricket. Here are the necessary components to achieve this feat.
Proper Test batsmen
The reason why England defeated India in 2012 was the fact that they had batsmen who wanted to bat for a long time. Their captain Alastair Cook led the way with three centuries while Kevin Pietersen also got a big hundred that turned the momentum. By the end, players such as Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Matt Prior also had big runs under their belt.
So, for any team to win in India, the need of the hour is the typical mindset of Test batting. The batters should be willing to go on an on and not be content with simply getting to triple figures. They also need to apply their mind and not lose their concentration after reaching a landmark. This is what Test match batting entails and this is what is needed for success in the subcontinent.
Ability to reverse swing the ball
The reason why South Africa had been very successful in India prior to 2015 was because their pacers, especially Dale Steyn, had a great ability to reverse swing the old ball. With the pitches in this country not having much pace, bounce or swing, reverse swing is the only way to cause trouble to the batsmen after the new ball has lost its shine.
In 2012, James Anderson used his ability to reverse the ball in the third Test at Kolkata to great effect and played a key role in England's victory in that game. Without this ability, the seamers of a visiting team would be rendered innocuous after the first 15 overs and would be condemned to bowl themselves into dust.
The spin-bowling duo of Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann propelled England to victory in 2012. In the 2017 series between Australia and India, the victory of the visitors in the first Test was due to Steve O'Keefe's 12 wickets in the match. Throughout the series, the bowling of Nathan Lyon caused a lot of problems to Indian batters and kept Australia in the game.
It is clear that succeeding in India requires good spinners. That wasn't the case earlier as batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman neutralized even the best tweakers. But the present Indian batting line-up is vulnerable to spin. Good slower bowlers can utilize the conditions in India to trouble the home side and make their team competitive.
Any team that possesses these three qualities will be a major threat to India. Seamers getting reverse swing and spinners getting the ball to turn would ensure that the Indian batting line-up won't be unstoppable even when the batsmen are well set.
Batsmen who are hungry for what Graham Gooch calls 'Daddy hundreds' would ensure that their team posts competitive totals. Unfortunately, no team in the last few years has come to India loaded with these weapons. Hence, they have been rolled over by the home side. Let's see if any team in the future can acquire these qualities and trouble Virat's men.