Last week, Team India added yet another jewel to their star-studded crown as they became just the second team in the history of T20 cricket to notch up 100 wins.
The moment came after Rohit Sharma's men beat former world champions West Indies in the second game of the three-match series at the Eden Gardens.
This made me take a trip down memory lane to the early days of T20 cricket.
But, how did it start?
It all started on the evening of December 01, 2006, when a beleaguered Indian team took on South Africa in their maiden T20I at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Why beleaguered? Because they had just been hammered into pieces in the three ODIs which preceded the one-off T20I.
Change in formats brought a change in fortunes, as the likes of Dinesh Karthik and skipper Virender Sehwag spearheaded a poultry run-chase after Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar restricted the Proteas to 9/126.
Masters of bilateral T20Is
India took another 154 games to notch up 99 more wins (of which three were achieved via tie-breaker) to become the fastest to achieve the feat.
Pakistan, on the other hand, have 120 wins from 189 matches. Their Win % is 63, compared to India's W% of 64.7.
India won the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007 and they remain the most successful side in bilateral fixtures. They are currently riding on a eight-match winning streak.
The Men in Blue also hold the record for most T20I wins on the trot; a feat that they achieved under Virat Kohli’s captaincy when they won 10 games in a row between December 2019-December 2020, a period that saw them swat aside the likes of West Indies and Sri Lanka on home soil whilst obliterating New Zealand 5-0 away before beating Australia Down Under.
Apart from this, India has previously enjoyed three different streaks of 7 wins, which underlines what a dominant force they've been in this format.
Such has been the dominance of Team India in bilateral T20Is that they have only dropped two rubbers (of more than 1 match) since the start of 2017. During this phase, they have scripted triumphs in England (2-1 in 2018), South Africa (2-1 in 2018), West Indies (3-0 in 2019), New Zealand (5-0 in 2020) and Australia (2-1 in 2020) besides beating the all-conquering England home and away thrice.
But still, has India underachieved in this format?
Well, their record in bilateral cricket does not reflect that but to be honest, white ball cricket is more about winning championships.
Yes, winning consistently in bilateral is also important, because, as they say, nothing gives you more confidence than a string of victories. But, then, given the resources we have at our disposal and keeping our bilateral record in mind, India's record in the World Cup leaves a lot to be desired.
India won the inaugural edition in stunning fashion back in 2007, when even their most loyal fans didn't give them a chance. But, the likes of Yuvraj Singh, RP Singh, Sreesanth, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Dhoni and others had different ideas.
A fearless India rose from the Ashes to turn the tables on pre-tournament favourites South Africa and Australia before knocking over arch-rivals Pakistan in a cliffhanger to lift the title.
Yuvraj's six sixes; his monstrous yet at the same, poetic 30-ball 70 in the semis; Gambhir's epic knock in the final; Rohit's match-winning 50 against South Africa, and a crucial 16-ball 30 in the final; RP Singh and Sreensanth's timely scalps; Robin Uthappa's intent, Harbhajan's yorker to dismiss Clarke in the semi-final; Dhoni's epic punt to give the final over to Joginder Sharma and that ill-fated scoop by Misbah.
I can go on and on and on reminiscing about that memorable campaign and still it wouldn’t be enough.
There is a reason for that.
Because, since then, the following six editions have brought more heartbreak than memorable moments.
The 2009 and 2010 editions proved to be an absolute nightmare as Dhoni's men lost six consecutive Super-8 games and bowed out in embarrassing fashion.
They broke the duck in 2012 but a chastening defeat to Australia ensured that their campaign came to an end before the semi-final stage.
The next two editions were all about one man and one man only: Virat Kohli. Yes, Amit Mishra was brilliant in the 2014 edition as was Ashwin, but Kohli, really was the differentiator.
His 72* in the semi-final of the 2014 event against South Africa and especially that unbeaten 82 (51) against Australia in Mohali (2016) will go down as two of the greatest ever knocks in T20I history.
The 2016 event, in particular, was a perfect example where 8 men failed a world-beating performer. I wrote 8, because MS Dhoni (thanks to his freak run-out in the game against Bangladesh and his overall captaincy) and Ashwin, by virtue of his match-winning spells and the semi-final, played pivotal roles as well.
But, unfortunately, in both events, Kohli was severely let down by his teammates and while he did win the ‘Player Of the tournament’ both times, it was no consolation for the missed opportunities.
The last WC proved to be an absolute nightmare for captain Kohli and his team as defeats to Pakistan and New Zealand paved the way for an embarrassing group-stage exit.
The biggest issue for India in T20 World Cups- especially in the last three editions- has been the inability of their batsmen and Kohli to come to the party when it matters the most.
India’s dependence on Kohli in last 3 editions can be gauged from the fact that the sum total of 50+ scores by the rest of the batsmen is equal to the 50+ totals that the former skipper has accumulated in the quadrennial event
The upcoming World Cup in Australia will be yet another opportunity for the batsmen to set the record straight and hopefully end the 15-year-old hiatus.
Who has been the biggest match-winner for India with the bat in T20Is?
Virat Kohli has been the most impactful batsman for his country in this format. While Rohit Sharma has scored more runs (2613 @ 40.82/143.72) and more hundreds than Virat in winning causes, the Indian No.3 has hammered 2222 runs in just 57 innings, as compared to Rohit's and, most importantly, his runs have come in World Cups, where, weirdly, Rohit has struggled since 2010.
Kohli has won the most number of ‘Player of the Match’ awards for his country (12 in 97 matches) and his record is only bettered by Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi, who has won 13 awards in 86 games.
KL Rahul is easily the most consistent and impactful Indian opener in this format. In winning causes, the stylish batsman has hammered 1483 runs in 36 innings @ 49.43/143.28 with 1 hundred and 15 fifties.
However, Rahul failed in the last World Cup; a blip he's been gunning to shrug off in Australia 2022.
As far as the middle-order is concerned, the trio of Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni have been India’s biggest match-winners, although their performance in T20 World Cups post 2010 left a lot to be desired.
Most wickets for India in winning causes
As far as the most impactful bowlers in winning causes is concerned, the seam-bowling duo of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the spin duo of R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal have been the spearheads during the journey to 101 T20I victories.
While Chahal is currently the fastest Indian to claim 50 wickets, a feat he achieved in just 34 games; it was Ashwin, who originally held the record (42 games). Ashwin also holds the record for most wickets for India in World Cups—26 wickets in 18 innings @ 15.26/6.01.
In terms of fast bowling, Jasprit Bumrah is the fastest Indian to claim 50 wickets in the format (41 games) and also the all-time leading wicket-taker (66 in 54 innings @ 19.54/6.52). Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar hold the record for being the only seamers to claim a five-wicket-haul. Chahar also holds the record for the best bowling figures–6/7 vs Bangladesh in 2019.
I’ll also make a special mention of RP Singh, Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth. The trio spearheaded India’s attack in the 2007 title-winning campaign with stunning effect.
Who is the most successful Indian captain in T20Is?
MS Dhoni led India in the format for close to ten years, during which he spearheaded the side to their only title win. However, as far as W% is concerned, Virat Kohli is the best most successful Indian captain to have led in this format thus far.
While Dhoni led India to 41 victories in 72 games and had a W% of 59.28, Kohli’s W% is 64.58, with 30 wins and 16 defeats after 50 matches. For captains, who have led their country in 50+ games, Kohli’s W% is bettered only by Afghanistan’s Asghar Stanikzai (81.73 with 42 wins and just 9 defeats in 50 games).
New skipper Rohit Sharma has thus far led India to 21 wins in 25 games and he is well on his way to leapfrogging both his predecessors.