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Kohli's champions, New Zealand's finest, and the new Test nations

A review of how India, Bangladesh, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland and Afghanistan fared between 2010 and 2019

India reached the final of ICC tournaments four times in the decade and won twice  •  Michael Steele/Getty Images

India reached the final of ICC tournaments four times in the decade and won twice  •  Michael Steele/Getty Images

In part two of our team reviews, we look at how India, Bangladesh, New Zealand, South Africa, Afghanistan and Ireland fared over the decade. Read part one here


by Sidharth Monga
A decade in which India, already a superpower in cricket commerce, became one on the field too. Under MS Dhoni, they achieved the Test No. 1 ranking, and won the World Cup and the Champions Trophy. A transitional blip that lasted upwards of two years gave way to another surge under Virat Kohli. This team had a battery of fast bowlers to go with two spinners who will end up among the greats. They were unbeatable at home and competitive away, winning India's first ever Test series in Australia, in 2018-19. A T20 world crown eluded them in the decade, but they were the most consistent side at ICC tournaments: in nine of those tournaments they won two, and they lost two finals and three semi-finals.
High point
The Test team's dominance under Kohli has to be India's biggest achievement in the decade, but you can't perhaps point to a series that was the high point for Indian cricket in the 2010s. Had Steven Smith and David Warner played the series that India won in Australia, it would have eclipsed the World Cup win in 2011, India's first such triumph since 1983.
Low point
The two tours of England and Australia in 2011 and 2011-12, where India sleepwalked to eight overseas Test defeats in a row. The batting stars were ageing, the bowlers were unfit, and the preparation was poor for both trips.
Tests: P107, W56, L29, D22
ODIs: P249, W157, L79, T6, NR7
T20Is: P106, W68, L36, NR2


by Mohammad Isam
This was Bangladesh's decade of progress. They became a strong Test team at home, and made great strides in ODIs, whitewashing higher-ranked opponents and rising up the rankings. Although they are yet to fully catch up in T20Is, in all, Bangladesh performed remarkably for a side constantly referred to as "minnows" during the previous decade.
Much of their progress owed to five of the country's best cricketers - Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe Mortaza and Mahmudullah - who forged a partnership strong enough to pull the entire team forward. They took on the responsibility of winning matches and instilled the winning mentality in the rest.
In form, Bangladesh can now beat any top team at home, particularly in ODIs. In this decade they won home series against India, South Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan and West Indies. They have also had some memorable Test wins, over England and Australia at home, and Sri Lanka away.
High point
Beating India 2-1 in the 2015 ODI series at home was the pinnacle of Bangladesh's decade of progress. Mashrafe Mortaza marshalled his emerging side superbly against tough opposition, relying on newcomer Mustafizur Rahman but balancing youth and experience in equal measure.
Low point
Hong Kong beating Bangladesh by two wickets was the nadir, particularly as it came in a home World T20. Bangladesh lost seven wickets for 23 runs, and despite reducing Hong Kong to 100 for 8 in a chase of 109, they lost with two balls to spare.
Tests: P56, W10, L36, D10,
ODIs: P162, W70,, L87 NR5
T20Is: P79, W27, L50, NR2

New Zealand

by Andrew McGlashan
It was the decade in which New Zealand were no longer being called "dark horses" or "underdogs". Rising to No. 2 in Tests on the back of a formidable home record, thanks to an outstanding pace attack and a strong top order, and reaching consecutive World Cup finals was reward for what could be considered their finest era ever.
There was turmoil in 2013 when Ross Taylor was ousted as captain and replaced by Brendon McCullum, but from the depths of being bundled out in a session at Newlands the Test climb started - a trend continued by one of the finest leaders and batsmen in the game, Kane Williamson.
Overseas Test victories in the UAE and Sri Lanka showed it did not need to be all about home conditions. However, although there was a famous seven-run win in Hobart in 2011, Australia, their final opponent of the decade, remained a nemesis.
High point
That heady Auckland evening in 2015 when Grant Elliott wrote himself into New Zealand cricket history with a six off Dale Steyn to take them the team to their first World Cup final. The noise and emotion was incredible. McCullum's triple-century against India in Wellington - the first triple by a New Zealander - is a close-run second.
Low point
"By the barest of margins…" Four years later, on an equally heady day, at Lord's, a deflection off Ben Stokes' bat, a missed catch on the boundary, and the agony of Martin Guptill's forlorn dive left New Zealand ruing a rule that was never expected to be needed. Their grace in defeat (or when tying) was extraordinary.
Tests: P83, W32, L30, D20
ODIs: P192, W98, L82, T2, NR 10
T20Is: P96, W49, L40, T4, NR3

South Africa

by Firdose Moonda
Successive Test series wins in Australia in 2012 and 2016 and over Australia at home in 2017-18 are highlights of a decade that started with South Africa a dominant side and ended with them struggling to make an impact.
They were No. 1 in Tests between August 2012 and November 2015, but their record in Asia left a lot to be desired: they won only three Tests out of 19 in the continent, and only one series, in Sri Lanka (2014). A victory in India remained elusive, with heavy defeats in 2015-16 and 2019-20.
South Africa's white-ball form was consistent between major tournaments but non-existent at the big moments. They crashed out of the 2011, 2015 and 2019 World Cups, the 2013 and 2017 Champions Trophies, and the 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 World T20s. Their major trophy cabinet only holds a solitary piece of silverware from more than 20 years ago, the 1998 ICC Knockout Trophy.
Off the field, Cricket South Africa went through three permanent CEO stints and two acting ones (the same person both times) and suffered its worst governance crisis since readmission.
High point
Winning the Test mace in 2012 was the culmination of a period of excellence for South Africa's Test side. At the time, they had the experience of Graeme Smith as captain, the serenity of Hashim Amla, the sensational AB de Villiers, and the most skilled bowling attack around, with swing and speed from Dale Steyn, bounce from Morne Morkel, and subtle seam movement from Vernon Philander. South Africa didn't quite have the right spinner in the mix at the time, Imran Tahir, but he went on to become the best limited-overs bowler in the world.
Low point
There was their choke in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final, their dramatic crashing out of the 2015 semi-final, and their twin 0-3 series losses to India in 2015 and 2019, but ultimately the manner in which South Africa exited the 2019 World Cup, losing five of their first six completed matches, marked rock bottom for the team - and subsequently for the administration.
Tests: P89, W44, L25, D20
ODIs: P188, W114, L68, T1, NR5
T20Is: P89, W51, L36, T1, NR1


by Peter Della Penna
In the late 2000s, Afghanistan produced one of cricket's great Cinderella stories to rise from Division Five of the World Cricket League all the way to ODI status in the space of 14 months. The 2010s were all about proving that they could sustain that ranking after a meteoric rise. And they did, burning brighter through the decade and ultimately securing Full Member status in June 2017.
Afghanistan demonstrated they could pull their own weight against Full Members, beginning in 2014, when they defeated Bangladesh in the Asia Cup for their first win against a Test nation, then followed it up four months later by drawing a four-match series in Zimbabwe. By the end of the decade, Sri Lanka and West Indies would be at the receiving end in limited-overs cricket, thanks to Afghanistan's champion T20 franchise bowlers. It's those men - Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman - who are emblematic of the vast potential that continues to exist in Afghanistan, despite the country having never hosted international matches, due to security reasons. Until then, the nomads continue their quest to roam and conquer.
High point
Unlike Ireland, who can call upon two famous World Cup wins, over Pakistan and England, as signature moments in their history, Afghanistan have to arguably still score a truly stunning win. Instead, their biggest point of pride may be Rashid Khan's Rs 4 crore (approximately US$560,000) bid from Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2017 IPL auction. His subsequent performances in the IPL helped legitimise Afghanistan's individual players and the national team across the board.
Low point
Losing their maiden Test match by an innings inside two days to India in Bengaluru in 2018. In spite of an outstanding record in the ICC Intercontinental Cup prior to being awarded Test status, Afghanistan's batsmen looked out of their depth and their prized bowling unit mostly had a case of the yips on day one.
Tests: P4, W2, L2
ODIs: P123, W57, L62, T1, NR3
T20Is: P78, W53, L25


by Peter Della Penna
After seminal World Cup success in 2007, Ireland spent the first three quarters of the 2010s capitalising on that foundation to graduate out of the Associate world, which they had dominated for the better part of a decade, and into Test cricket. But since being christened with Full Membership in 2017, their adjustment to the next level has been a baptism by fire, as an ageing squad and a string of retirements have highlighted a worrying lack of depth.
Ireland's struggles in Tests have spread to limited-overs cricket as well. Their streak of three straight World Cup appearances was snapped after a failure to make it through the Qualifier last year. Having held a 21-match winning streak at the T20 World Cup Qualifier from 2012 through 2015, which included tournament titles in 2012 and 2013, they failed to reach the finals in 2015 and 2019. From the time the streak was broken by Papua New Guinea in Belfast, Ireland won just 19 of 49 T20Is.
High point
Few nights in Irish cricket history can top their win over England in Bangalore in the 2011 World Cup. Apart from recording the highest successful chase in World Cup history, they did it on the back of the fastest World Cup century: Kevin O'Brien's pink-dyed hair rampage.
Low point
Ireland's T20 form has seemingly never recovered from the fateful night in Sylhet when Netherlands ambushed them to chase 190 in 13.5 overs and pass them for a spot in the main draw of the 2014 World T20. As for ODI cricket, a symbolic gut punch was delivered with a six-wicket defeat by England in Malahide in September 2013, when that team's stars with bat and ball were both Irish-reared: Boyd Rankin (4 for 46) and Eoin Morgan (124 not out off 106 balls).
Tests: P3, W0, D0, L3
ODIs: P112, W50, L55, T2, NR5
T20Is: P83, W36, L41, T1, NR5
More in the decade in review, 2010-19