Virat Kohli, Rangana Herath, Mohammad Aamer & Craig Ervine ©  AFP & Getty Images
From left to right (Virat Kohli, Rangana Herath, Mohammad Aamer & Sean Williams) have embodied the minds of cricketing fans around the world with their talent and skill © AFP & Getty Images

After all the hullabaloo of Twenty20 (T20) coming to an end, it was time for the purest form of cricket — Test to be bestowed upon us, with as many as 6 international teams participating in longest format all around the globe. Yes, everyone was bored ,and bored of watching cricket all year long in one tournament or the other, exhaustion had happened. It was upto the players to bring back the fans into the stadiums or in their living rooms on the comfort of their beloved couch. It was going back to the grid of red-ball cricket, which is considered as most favoured format by cricketers world wide (expect West Indies may be?). Teams like India, Pakistan, England, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand were already polishing their skills before battling it out for Test supremacy in the upcoming season. Coaches were being shuffled, captains were been articulated about their team selection, players were in the process of being moulded into greatness. Full Cricket Scorecard: India vs West Indies, 4th Test at Port-of-Spain

Pakistan, one of the most publicised team in the cricket circuits, was ready to flight on a journey to England, much after their most controversial, and maligned trip in 2010. Lead by the 42-year-old young and energetic Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan with open arms accepted tainted paceman Mohammad Aamer, who set social media ablaze. Aamer was ready to step on the same land, where he was found guilty of veiling the spirit of cricket. Ready for national and for some individual redemption, Pakistan were set to take on England set for at The Mecca of Cricket, The Lord’s for four-Test series panned out.

Fans from across the globe flocked to see Aamer bowl to Alastair Cook, which sadly was not the case. Pakistan batting first made 339 runs to which England could only manage 215. With this the flood gates were opened for Pakistan to engrave a famous victory at London, and victory is what they achieved.

Misbah and Yasir Shah were the architects of a historic win but were well supported by Aamer, Asad Shafiq and Rahat Ali. Leading 1-0, England will their shoulders down, came back strongly and toppled the visitors at Old Trafford which was more of a batting exhibition by Cook and Joe Root, than anything else. Yet wining a Test demands an applause. Coming to Edgbaston, Pakistan were haunted by the ghosts of their own miseries. As player after player, fell apart like nine pins on a bowling alley, handing a 2-1 lead to England.  Rangana Herath: The wizard who works in a bank

Elsewhere in the Caribbean Island India were set to lock horns against an lackluster West Indies side, which seemed as an filler series for the Indians. West Indies lead by Jason Holder, had a very debated and fragile side to itself, which was taking on the World No.3 Test side. Virat Kohli, who was looking to mark history by starting tour with a bang, whiplashed his first ever double ton enroute India’s innings victory at Antigua. Second Test at West Indies, saw unknown commodities. Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase came to their teams aid. Achieving a draw is no mean feat against India, who looked compelled to find their way back.

Ranked No.1 in Test, Australia embraced on the tour to Sri Lanka, in the Indian sub-continent, where their record is abysmal. Sri Lanka who has earlier been humiliated by England a month back in Tests, where looking to bring out the hungry lion against the men Down Under. Without the legends like Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Snagkkara, Angelo Mathews embarked through a series that was tough.

But one man in particular had different plans, Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka’s willy old fox. Herath made sure that Steven Smith, Adam Voges, David Warner and co. got a feel of the Lankans hospitality with all humility and grace, which the Australian lacked. In the first Test at Pallekele, Sri Lanka batting suffered a collapse, overshadowed by Herath’s magic. Chasing 268 runs to win, it was again Herath winded up the Australian batsmen in a web of misery for the whole series. Sri Lanka won the match by 106 runs, a trend which followed the Australians at Galle. It got worse for the world champions. Herath continued to weave victory to his team by 229 runs.

Back in England, Pakistan were toiling hard, in a bid to level the four-Test series at The Oval. At Lord’s Pakistan had shown glimpses of their team camaraderie, and this was the neatest of chance for them to showcase it all to its perfection. Pakistan’s charge led by Sohail Khan, rattled England to 328, which was complimented fittingly by Younis Khan. Younis, who had being doing everything wrong so far, finally fiund harmony and tip-toed his way to a double ton— his sixth it was. England tormentor from Lord’s returned with a sweet vengeance, Yasir tousled their famed batting line-up like a stack of Marie biscuits. Younis Khan and the art of batting with the tail

Amidst all this chaos, New Zealand boarded their flight to African continent, to engage in a two-Test series against Zimbabwe, more than anything it was a warm-up matches for the likes of Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tim Southee, and co. Zimbabwe, in contrast, was looking to gain valuable play time knowledge against New Zealand. Sean Williams knocked off his money off the back, achieving his first ever Test ton in the first Test, that went in vain. Second time around, it was Craig Ervine who got to his century, where Zimbabwe were hauled by a target of 254 runs.

Meanwhile, back in the West Indies, India were aiming to attain a 2-0 lead in the series, which was looking grim initially at St.Lucia. India’s batting order suffered a collapse only to be helped by Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhman Saha, with their combined centuries. That enabled India’s chance of winning. The returning Bhuvneshwar Kumar, displayed his skills with the ball to clatter West Indies batsmen to hand India a memorable and historic victory.

India’s Asian counterpart weren’t doing that bad either, with Sri Lanka having taken over an assailable lead of 2-0, Australia were on the outlook of a saving grace. With their ranking at stake, Australia looked in authority of the match in the early hour or so! And then we saw a remarkable turn around by Sri Lanka, bravely marshalled by Dinesh Chandimal and Dhananjaya de Silva, whose centuries ensured Australia were kept away from victory. Cometh the hour cometh the man, and Herath responded to his nations call. Herath outwitted, and  frolicked with the Australian’s in both the innings, to end up as highest wicket taker in the series, more important hand Australia its first ever series whitewash in Sri Lanka.

In the past 45-days or so, cricket fans have traveled the length and breadth of almost every continent in a bid to witness some lip smacking cricket. Batsmen like Kohli, Root and Younis parched up flashy, brawny and exquisite double ton to keep the modern fan appealed, while Herath, Bhuvneshwar and Yasir brought pleasure to the purists with their orthodox, intimate and masterly bowling. We saw vocal and patriotic crowd cheering Pakistan, match up to a pompous and modish English crowd. In contrast we saw timidly populated stadiums in the West Indies, to a buoyant, abstract and musically inclined, trumpet blowing troupe in Sri Lanka. ALSO READ: Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara’s inclusion a masterstroke by India

We all are same, you and I. We fall in love with smallest of joys, tallest of hurdles and erratic of celebrations, which amalgamate to one and only one thing – Test cricket.

(Vishal Mehra is a reporter at CricketCountry, who enjoys his weekly dose of anime, and plays cricket once a white moon. His twitter handle is @capturethecatch )