Twin debuts behind the stumps

Impressive... India's Naman Ojha.-AP

During the third Test of the recently concluded series between India and Sri Lanka, wicketkeepers Naman Ojha and Kusal Perera made their debuts together. This was the first instance in 15 years of two ’keepers making their debut in the same Test. The last instance of this happening was in 2000, when India’s Saba Karim and Bangladesh’s Khaled Mashud debuted together in Dhaka.

There have been a total of 14 Tests where two ’keepers have debuted together, but 11 of those games were played prior to 1952. Interestingly, four out of the last five Tests in which this happened have involved India.

Terrible touring sides

India’s win against Sri Lanka in the second Test of the series was only its third away-Test victory since 2011, with the other two successes coming against West Indies (Kingston, 2011) and England (Lord’s, 2014). India has lost 16 away Tests in this period, which is the most for any team, worse than Australia (14) and New Zealand (13). Its win-loss ratio of 0.19 is the second-worst for any team, worse than Bangladesh and better than only Zimbabwe.

Q & A

I recently read that Ravichandran Ashwin has now taken at least one four-wicket haul in four consecutive away Tests. How many other Indian players have done this?

- Aravind Anandan, Dehradun, Uttarakhand

It is true that at the end of the second Test against Sri Lanka, Ravichandran Ashwin had taken at least one four-wicket haul in four consecutive away Tests - in Sydney, Fatullah, Galle and Colombo. There are two other India bowlers who have achieved this - Erapalli Prasanna and Irfan Pathan. Prasanna did this in 1967-68 in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Dunedin, while Pathan did this in 2004-05 in Dhaka, Chittagong, Bulawayo and Harare.

AB de Villiers, the ODI player, has picked up seven wickets as a bowler and more than 100 catches as a fielder, to go with his 8000 runs as a batsman. Does any other cricketer have a similar achievement?

- Devansh Agarwal, Kolkata, West Bengal

Surprisingly, this feat is not as rare as one would think. There are 20 players who have scored 8000-plus runs and taken 100-plus catches, including AB de Villiers. Ten out of these 20 players have taken more wickets than de Villiers with the top-five players on the list being Shahid Afridi (395 wkts), Sanath Jayasuriya (323), Jacques Kallis (273), Chris Gayle (163) and Sachin Tendulkar (154).

Many great batsmen have recently retired (or are likely to, soon) fairly late in their careers, such as Tendulkar, Dravid, Kallis, Misbah, Chanderpaul, Jayawardene, Ponting, Sangakkara etc. Would it be possible to find out which batsman has been the most successful after the age of 35?

- Manoj Majeed, Bangalore, Karnataka

Younis Khan has the highest batting average amongst batsmen who have scored at least 2000 Test runs after turning 35. He has scored 2249 runs from 22 Tests at an average of 62.47. Next on the list are Kumar Sangakkara (60.19), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (57.73) and Jacques Kallis (56.92). The record for the most centuries after the age of 35 is jointly held by Rahul Dravid, Graham Gooch and Sachin Tendulkar - 12 each. Gooch and Tendulkar have also scored the most runs, 4563 and 4139 respectively.

What is the most number of catches taken by any wicket-keeper in a single Test match?

- Aditya Khandekar, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

There have been two instances of a wicket-keeper taking 11 catches in a single Test match - AB de Villiers (versus Pakistan, 2013) and England's Jack Russell (versus South Africa, 1995). Interestingly, both these feats were achieved at the same venue, i.e. Johannesburg. Two other 'keepers, England's Bob Taylor and Australia's Adam Gilchrist, have taken 10 catches in a single Test.