Today, India begins its match number 501 in test cricket in Kolkata. Of the 500 test matches played by India before this, 249 were at home, in hot conditions and on tracks favouring a traditional strength of teams from the sub-continent: spinners.
Since the early-nineties, in the five-day format, India has won more at home than lost. If that split was examined by decades, the ongoing decade is the best India has been at home, winning 69% of its test matches.
In the 70s, the famed spin quartet gave India the edge at home. That edge eroded in the 80s, when they left and the obdurate captaincy of Sunil Gavaskar saw India take a safety-first approach. The winning habit at home became a constant in the 90s, with the advent of Anil Kumble. This was the decade when India was unbeatable at home but couldn’t win anything abroad, giving rise to the phrase, ‘tigers at home, lambs abroad’.
The first decade of this century—India’s best in test matches away from home—saw the winning rate at home fall. India drew more matches, and teams like Australia and South Africa adapted to Indian conditions a whole lot better. This decade, India is back to its crushing ways at home. And it’s happened in the backdrop of the emergence of another match-winning spinner: R Ashwin.