MUMBAI (Reuters) - While traditionally formidable on home soil, India’s cricket teams have been known to struggle on their travels but West Indies batting great Brian Lara has said the current side are a force to be reckoned with anywhere in the world.
India completed their 11th consecutive test series win at home last week when they took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the ongoing three-match series against South Africa.
They are also the only unbeaten team in the recently launched World Test Championship with four wins from as many matches — two of them coming in the West Indies in their previous test series.
Lara, who once held the record for most runs in test cricket before being overtaken by Sachin Tendulkar, said Virat Kohli’s men would have to show a level of consistency for them to be considered in the same league as the world-beating sides of West Indies and Australia of the past.
“We all know the Indian team was not the most respected when they travelled. They were very respected at home but now India on a world stage anywhere they play is a force to be reckoned with,” Lara told reporters at an event in Mumbai on Thursday.
“Well, those teams dominated world cricket ... the West Indies in the ‘70s and ‘80s, the Australians in the ‘90s and the early part of the 21st century. India has that capability.
“They’re now travelling well, they’re playing abroad and beating oppositions, which is great. World cricket is a lot more competitive now — Australia, South Africa and England.
“So India will have to do it over a period of time, dominating all teams to be considered. But they are definitely a top cricketing nation at the moment.”
India have occupied top spot in the world test rankings since late 2016 and lot of that credit, according to pundits, goes to their fast bowlers.
Lara, who scored 11,953 runs from 131 tests and still holds the record for the highest score of 400 not out in an innings, said India batting mainstay Kohli was the “ultimate captain” and the side’s fast bowlers were “unbelievable”.
“The Indian outfit - batting, bowling and fielding - is exceptional,” the 50-year-old said. “I thought their fast bowlers were sometimes unplayable (against West Indies).
“I saw (India) in the West Indies and I must say what I was accustomed to in the past ... this is pretty special.
“And the guys that you have on the sidelines, it reminds me a little bit of what the West Indies had back in the ‘80s and ‘90s ... the reserve strength is very important in assessing a team’s ability.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford