After seven decades, India on top down under!

Indian captain Virhat Kohli with the Border-Gavaskar trophy as he celebrate their series win over Australia in Sydney on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.   | Photo Credit: AP

Their spirit shone bright on a murky day; much like headlights on an unlit highway. 

This Indian team had been tactically slick, fought with commitment and passion, and accomplished what no Indian team had managed to achieve in 71 years.

India had finally, after all these years of wait, agony and near misses, triumphed in a Test series in Australia. Indian cricket had broken through a monumental barrier. 

A persistent drizzle and bad light meant the fifth day’s play was called off at 2.30 p.m. local time at the SCG on Monday; Australia, following on 322 behind and six without loss in its second innings, was not forced to save the fourth Test.

India had retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a 2-1 verdict in the four-Test series. Down under, the Indians had kept their date with history.

Aggression pays off

In its relentlessly aggressive skipper Virat Kohli, obsessed with away Test victories, and coach Ravi Shastri, the side had two men who had instilled belief in the team to play winning cricket on pitches with more pace and bounce.

Kohli and his men were itching to go for a victory on Monday. But when a draw loomed and the play, rather inevitably, was abandoned in the afternoon, the Indians, putting aside the disappointment of the moment, entered the ground to celebrate a larger feat. 

This was an iconic moment for Indian cricket and the cricketers ran towards a band of supporters in the stands who had braved inclement weather.

The cricketers led by Kohli and the pocket powerhouse Rishabh Pant, mimicked Cheteshwar Pujara’s style of running where he moves his arms only minimally, with a dance. Kohli said later, “Only Pujara did not dance!”

Yet, Pujara, adjudged man-of-the-match and player-of-the-series for his three hundreds and 521 runs in four Tests at 74.42, had done everything else his skipper asked from him.

Pujara blunted the Australian attack at No.3 with a tight game, kept his concentration going for long periods, waited for the bowlers to bowl to his strengths and tired them out. The others batted around him.

Kohli added substance and class to the middle-order. And the exciting Rishabh Pant lent weight and muscle to the lower order.

Also in the mix, waltzing the Pujara moves, was paceman Jasprit Bumrah. He scalped 21 in the series, altered the course of matches with his unique action, movement, awkward bounce, speed and scorching yorkers.

He was the leader of a pace pack in which the bustling, skiddy and tireless Mohammed Shami sent down compelling spells of velocity and movement. 

It’s true that Kohli’s men have not subdued the strongest Australian team. The host was without its two primary batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner. And several strong Indian teams over the years had faced off with some formidable all-conquering Australian sides.

But then a team can only play against an opposition that is put up against it. And truth to tell, the Indian batsmen were facing a full-strength and a highly-rated Australian attack.

Clinical attack

And the Indian pace bowlers, as coach Bharat Arun revealed, were clinical in their approach and bowled to a plan. 

The Australians are strong with the cut and the pull and the Indian pacemen decided not to pitch short and serve them with deliveries for these strokes.

The idea was pitch it up around the off-stump and not get carried away by the additional bounce. The short ball was only employed as a weapon, particularly by Bumrah.

When the regular openers failed in the first two Tests, the team-management acted fast, bringing in Mayank Agarwal and promoting Hanuma Vihari to the top of the order. 

Mayank was impressive with his footwork and balance and the determined Vihari got the job done. 

India did not shy away from bold decisions. It took the series Australia.


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Printable version | Apr 22, 2021 7:48:12 AM |

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