Bowled out for 36 at Adelaide, comeback at Melbourne, the great escape at Sydney and the final counter punch at Australia’s fortress Gabba, that is how Team India ended their fantastic tour of Australia 2020-2021. This win by 2-1 and retaining the Border – Gavaskar trophy proved that the 2018 -19 win by the identical score-line was no fluke. Australia cribbed then as there was no David Warner, Steve Smith. This time they had both yet were instead beaten by a injury ravaged Indian cricket team that showed the resolve of the new India – nothing is impossible.
Rattled by India’s comeback at Melbourne , Aussies used dirty tricks to divert team India’s attention. Accusing the team players of breaching covid- protocol by putting stories in media , unruly fans hurled racial abuses at team India players – Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah at Sydney, Tim Paine got involved in sledging war of words with Ravichandran Ashwin. But India stood firm in their goal – Winning the series . The racial taunts in-fact united the Indian team and they were determined to give the Aussies back .
In this series there were many heroes . Ajinkya Rahane leading the team in the absence of Virat Kohli showed his skills as an astute skipper with smart field placings and wily bowling changes. Unlike Virat who is demonstrative , aggressive, expressive and giving the rivals a stare and exchange some words or two, Rahane in contrast , showed clam determined approach and this attribute rubbed on well with the team as well . He scored a masterly ton at MCG and lead from the front . In Rahane India has found a able innovative leader. This is one of the biggest gains of the series.
What was amazing India found players standing up tall when it mattered most right through. Players showed they can shine at the big stage and can play fearless cricket and the names that come to the fore are – Shubman Gill, Washington Sundar, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Mohammed Siraj ( in his debut series took 13 wickets ) , T Natarajan , Shardul Thakur . This is heartening sight for Indian cricket in the years ahead .
When India was without regular skipper Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami ( out with injury after First Test) K L Rahul injured Before Last two Tests, Ravindra Jadeja ( missed Fourth Test with injury), Hanuma Vihari ( missed fourth Test with hamstring), Ravichandran Ashwin ( missed fourth Test at Gabba) so too did Jasprit Bumrah. Many thought India would lose the series. But that did not happen. Team India turned adversity into opportunity and never gave up .
Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane led from the front, Cheteshwar Pujara was solid and played the way he knows best. Grinding the rivals by batting long hours and facing many balls . His slow approach came under criticism yet he remained unfazed. Young Shubman Gill showed his talent . 91 at Gabba in the second innings was a case in point . He will only get better the more he plays.
23 – year-old Rishabh Pant , has been often trolled for his wicket- keeping ability but the left-hander has proved that when it comes to batting he is sure game changer and the brings the X factor with his attacking game . How fitting it was to see him hit the winning runs at Gabba and guiding the team home with a superb unbeaten knock of 89. He finished the series in style after he was not picked in the playing eleven at Adelaide. He was India’s top run- getter in the series with 274 runs, Pujara next with 271, Ajinkya Rahane 268 and Shubman Gill 259 . Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin showed the grit and intent at Sydney to help India salvage a epic draw .
And then it was Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur who bioth scored match- winning fifties at Gabba stunning Australia to put India back in the match . All in all India found players at the right time at crucial moments of the Tests . And this attribute was the reason for the remarkable series win.
AS India celebrates the historic series win it is also pertinent to point out the tremendous role played by former India skipper and batting legend Rahul Dravid. Now In charge of the NCA, Dravid was instrumental in unearthing the young players for the future during his stint as coach of the India – Under-19 and India A sides from 2016-2019 . All the young players who are making heads turn in Australia were under his tutelage. And Dravid’s Steller contribution was mentioned in a tweet aptly by seasoned cricket writer, Vijay Lokapally , who wrote, He is NOT on Twitter but #RahulDravid is the man behind the rise of all these players at National Cricket Academy and India `A’ : Gill, Shardul, Sundar, Siraj, Saini, Pant…Let us hail Dravid the astute cricket mind even as we celebrate the feat Down Under.
Living at the times of Covid Pandemic , Team India’s spectacular Test series win led by Ajinkya Rahane has brought smile to the entire nation and there cannot be a better gift in the new year 2021 than this epic win at Oz. A win that we will cherish for rest of our lives.