I can certainly vouch for this – no Indian team had mastered the art of fearless cricket like these youngsters! At 36 all out, when the world was predicting their end, a team without their regulars and their charismatic captain went on to script history at a place where visiting teams always struggled. India clinched the four-Test series 2-1 at the Gabba the place known as an Aussie fort.
What makes this win special? It was the character and courage showed by the team amid challenging circumstances that make it memorable. This team was full of fresh faces as injuries kept coming. They hung on and fought like warriors. Each session produced a new hero. We saw Mohammed Siraj leading the Indian pace attack and bagging five wickets in what was only his Third Test. For this young team, inexperience mattered very less while skills and game application proved everything. Thus, a team of bowlers with combined experience of just 10 Tests bowled out their opponents under 400 runs, not once but in both innings.
Terrific team effort
It was not easy. The Aussies gave it a good crack and played competitive cricket throughout the series which required the team to play at their best cricket all the time. India gave the best response. They never lost their composure and kept fighting. Apart from day four of first Test, the competition never went one-sided and it was an edge of a seat kind of a series with the players giving it their best shot.
Sharing the responsibility
Seasoned campaigners like Ashwin, Jadeja and Pujara didn’t give up despite suffering body blows while an injured Vihari displayed absolute courage and determination to pull India back into the series. Whenever the team faced a crisis, new faces stepped in and their grit and character benefitted the team in playing excellent, outstanding cricket throughout the series. New talents like Shubman Gill, Mohammed Siraj, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan handled the Aussie heat with tremendous composure and character. To register history in their first series is a stunning feat, isn’t it?
The X factors
It is a remarkable journey for any player if you are dropped from the playing eleven initially and went on to become your team’s top run-scorer. How good was Rishabh Pant with the bat in the series? The talented youngster defied the Aussie attack with positive cricket and a fearless knock at SCG and a match-winning show at the Gabba won him the player of the series award. Pant’s 29 runs at MCG was as crucial as these knocks as it shifted gears when India needed the most. His style of cricket and partnerships with Pujara and Co certainly swung the momentum in India’s favour.
Leader with a cause
How hard was this series for India’s stand-in-skipper Ajinkya Rahane? The experienced campaigner received his biggest task of life after his team’s worst performance and responded with character. He had already lost his team’s best batsman and as the series progressed, the injury list just kept increasing such that Indian camp looked like a hospital room. He lost his best bowlers Bumrah, Ashwin and Shami but never gave up. The determined Rahane’s ton was the turning point of India in this series.
He followed it up with brilliant field placements and tactical thinking. We saw a fearless team blossoming under him and they kept improving after each passing day. Rahane the captain was nothing short of excellence and deservedly took the honours.
The series was won, and history was created! Was it the best Test series that you have ever watched, featuring India? For me, this is certainly the one.