Indian cricket got
its new seminal moment after a maiden series victory on Australian soil, ending
a 71-year wait to script a golden chapter in the game’s history.The fourth and
final Test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) petered to a barren draw
due to cold weather but not before providing India with a 2-1 series win and
the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
It is a rare first Down Under for India since Lala Amarnath’s side visited the country back in 1947-48 months after independence to face Sir Don Bradman’s ‘Invincibles’.
“Firstly, I want to say I’ve never been more proud of being part of a team, than this one right here. The culture we’ve built… our transition began right here, where I took over as captain, and I can’t believe that after four years we’ve won here. Just one word to say, ‘proud’, to lead this team and it’s an honour and privilege. The boys make the captain look good,” an elated skipper Virat Kohli said after the mission was accomplished.
Things turned out to be a bit of anti-climactic in the end as India had a fair chance of adding insult to the injury with a 3-1 victory margin as they got the home team to follow-on in their den for the first time in 30 years after scoring 622 in their only innings as per PTI reports.
It was a ‘freeze the frame’ as the Indian team
took a ‘Lap of Honour’ of the SCG
with the both Indian and Australian fans cheering them.”This is history
and a terrific moment for Indian cricket,” said country’s greatest opener
Such was the fragility of the Australian batting, a full day’s play possibly could have been enough to win a record three Test matches in a single series in Australia had the heavens not opened up.
While Australian batting was severely handicapped due to the suspensions of their premier batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner but it can take nothing away from the heady achievement of Kohli’s men, who have conquered an unchartered frontier with a lion-hearted display.
If this victory is put into perspective with some of Indian cricket’s famous away series wins, it will be right up there both in terms of novelty as well as quality.
Alongside Ajit Wadekar’s side’s twin triumph in the West Indies and England in 1971, Kapil’s Devils or Rahul Dravid’s sides’ winning the 1986 or 2007 series in England, the members of the current side have now successfully etched their names in record books.
Skipper Kohli, has been finally able to walk the talk after the disappointments in South Africa and England where poor batting let the team down during some of the defining sessions.
In Australia however, it was a near flawless team effort from India, especially the bowling unit which has set it up for its batsmen for the better part of last year.
While skipper Kohli hit the best hundreds of the series in terms of sheer class on a difficult Perth Stadium track, the unamusing Cheteshwar Pujara (521) and the unconventional Jasprit Bumrah (21 wickets) were the heroes of the memorable ‘first’.
With their full focus on how to decode Kohli’s strategy, Australian team led by Tim Paine realised late that Pujara has struck from the ‘blind side’ with his near perfect defensive technique and three hundreds.
However it was their batting that let them down and a one piece of statistic will scare the die-hard Aussie fans. The highest score by an Australian batsman in the just-concluded four-match series is 79 by opener Marcus Harris.
Leave alone a three-figure score, none of the Australian batsman could even cross the 80-run barrier, something that legends like Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Mike Hussey, Ian Chappell found difficult to do.
Whether it was the awkward angles along created by Bumrah along with some acute movements, Mohammed Shami getting it to rip on occasions, Ishant Sharma hitting the right length over after over, India never had it so good in terms of consistency in overseas conditions.
Ravichandran Ashwin before his injury and Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav also put up relentless pressure on the opposition team by their bowling.Rishabh Pant with 350 runs and a sparkling hundred at the SCG with a record number of dismissals established himself as India’s No 1 wicketkeeper in the Test format.
For Kohli, this series was more about his leadership choices and team selection rather than his insane batting efforts.No other Asian captain leave alone Indian captain has won four away Test matches in South Africa, England and Australia in a single calendar year.
While India now,gears up to switch format, Kohli’s biggest takeaway will be the confidence before they start their preparations for the ODI World Cup.