As India wrap up their maiden Test series win down under with a convincing 2-1 over the hosts, Indian cricket fans are ecstatic and rightly so. From 1947-48, the time when Indian teams started visiting the Aussies in their home conditions, they never managed to win a series in the country. With star players making huge contribution with the bat and the ball, it somehow never clicked together or maybe the Australian team was too strong and fought back well.
We all have memories of sole test match wins or draws, which used to be celebrated too. Not anymore, Virat Kohli’s men have done what other Asian, Indian Captains could never do- Win a test series in Australia. Lot of players will say the Australian team was not strong enough, they were missing out two of their best players but this does not take away any credit from the Indian Cricket team. They deserved to win and they did it with authority almost making it 3-1 but rain God decided to spare some humiliation to the Australians by showering non-stop on day 4,5 of the last test at the SCG and making it 2-1 in the end. Australia had ample time to find a good batting combination since Warner and Smith were banned from the side in March 2018, also the pace attack which Australia has is still considered one of the best, Indians did pile up huge runs against them in their home conditions that nullifies any argument which tries to diminish the win.
A brief look back at the matches, summary and how the India vs Australia test series panned out, making it one of the most important and historic wins in Indian Cricket so far.
Source- BCCI Twitter
A close encounter in Adelaide which India won by 31 runs was courtesy of the underrated Cheteshwar Puraja who held the innings together in both the innings. Little did he know what is in store for him in next 5 innings. India managed a mere 250 in the first inning but with the new bowling pace attack and the new star of the pack, Jasprit Bumrah coming in the picture, the hosts managed to keep a lead of 15 runs dismissing Australia for 235. The difference between the teams was the equal responsibility of the batting and bowling between players. Apart from Travis Head with the bat and Nathan Lyon with the ball nobody showed any resistence. On the other hand, the bowling distributed equal wickets, produced at the right time and batting responsibility was taken by various batsmen with Pujara being the anchor. The much needed win came in handy as we got a series leading boost of 1-0.
India’s only pain point of openers coupled with leaving out a spinner and wrong selection made them lose the match in Perth with series going 1-1. Indian openers were facing the heat of the fans, critics and seemed low on confidence. This was a wake up call for Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul. Australia posted a massive 100+ run first wicket stand which defined the game for them. Making 326 in their first inning, they ensured that it will be a tough contest and will not give it away easy. India did manage to get close to the first inning total of the Australians with the captain Virat Kohli notching his 5th Test Century in Australia. However, the selection hurted more and Australia batted out India by making 243 runs and asking the visitors to chase a massive 287. This was never going to be an easy ask. India faltered and ended up leveling the series 1-1 with a huge 146 run loss.
Source- AP Photo
After a 10 day break, cut to the one of the most anticipated events of test cricket, the Boxing Day test match at MCG, series levelled, excitement, nervousness and a chance of creating history, India had every reason to be excited as well as nervous. Axing both the openers and calling India’s domestic cricket star, Mayank Agarwal in the playing 11 was a bold move and it proved to be an extremely important decision. This match was a record breaking match with the diaries and data flooding, various events and records made. Virat Kohli’s 18th toss win (He has never lost a match after winning a toss, 18 matches won out of 20) was a great boost for the team. Mayank played a well defined 76 along with a gritty knock by the ever dependable Cheteshwar Pujara’s 106. Virat Kohli was well on his way to slam another ton but his back was stiff and ended up edging to Pat Cummins- an on-field rivalry we will never miss. Rohit Sharma proved useful for his 63 and India scored 443/7 declared. Australia did not play well at all and were dismissed for a mere 151 courtesy of some brilliant bowling by Jasprit Bumrah. Oh boy he has emerged in tests and how! India had a chance to enforce a follow on but they chose not to.
Source- Getty Images
This was the only hiccup in the entire match where Indian stars Virat and Cheteshwar were both sent back on a duck (0). India had enough runs on the board and with Agarwal’s 42, India scored 106 and set a target of 399 to the hosts. Australian second inning showed some promise and fluent batting by Pat Cummins was a treat to watch. Wow, what an athlete. The target was too steep and the brilliant bowling by Indian pacers never kept the hosts in the game. There it was, a 2-1 lead in a series, victory never smelled sweeter. India defeated Australia by 137 runs.
With record breaking events and a chance to create history India walked into the SCG with confidence and they walked their talk. Wow, a test match lover would love to see this kind of a batting display. Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Risabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja literally drove the Aussies down in the dirt. This was sheer dominance on the field. Pujara, a class apart.
With rain God’s mercy Australia did not have to bat after being forced to follow on. The match was drawn and India won the historic test series down under by 2-1 and retained their test no.1 position, Border-Gavaskar Trophy. What a day for a Test cricket lover!
Some key mentions - Jasprit Bumrah’s emergence as a test player (Highest wicket taker 21 tied along with Nathon Lyon). Cheteshwar Pujara’s match winning and Man of the Series performances- the right replacement to The Wall (521 runs, 1278 balls faced in 7 innings and 3 centuries). Kohli’s captaincy. Mayank Agarwal’s debut- What’s in store for Indian batting combination for openers and no 6. Rishabh Pant’s centuries and his growth as a player. (2nd highest run getter 350 and 20+ catches behind the stumps) Oh, the funny banter with captain Tim Paine- definitely worth a mention. The only Australian who truly stood out for me was Pat Cummins, what a player!
With this, the series is ours, the happiness and proud captains and players are definitely going to remember this for a long time. Wow, I will surely miss waking up at 5:30 am and watching some classy Cricket action in the Whites.
By Anish Avachat