Adjectives and superlative describing India’s historic win at Brisbane and the subsequent 2-1 series triumph against Australia flew in thick and fast. An injury-hit outfit led, admirably if one might say, by a stand-in Ajinka Rahane eclipsed the 32-year-old Gabba record, ushering a new hope to the country battered by coronavirus.
India’s series win in Australia’s backyard announced the brand-new aggression which has become the order of the day. Many critics, experts and analysts were made to eat their words.
Like the country, which is facing an uphill task owing to the disturbance caused by the dreaded coronavirus, the team too had its share of confusion caused by the virus and the subsequent new rules and regulations.
Bio-bubble, quarantine laws, social distancing, sanitisation and masks had made the lives of the cricketers uncomfortable and the 36-run collapse at Adelaide (First Test) had the soothsayers painting a grim picture.
Daggers were out in the open. Veterans like Ricky Ponting, Michael Vaughan, Mark Waugh, Michael Clark, and Brad Haddin called India a sissy and predicted a washout. The Indian Twitterati, since then hasn’t let them forget their ‘predictions’.
Like India, which was on its nerves taking on the virus, this team, right from the day it landed in Australia, has been asked to tackle controversies.
If the disastrous defeat in Adelaide wasn’t enough, the team was forced to contend with a series of injuries to its best players, who were forced to cool their legs in the dressing room.
The paternity leave of Captain Virat Kohli and the subsequent stepping in of Ajinka Rahane threw in its share of uncertainties.
The team’s travails provided enough fodder for the fourth estate, the social media which had cartoons and memes hitting out at the team’s standard of physical fitness, unmindful of the fact that almost every player had been locked indoors, thanks to the COVID-19 restrictions.
The team, however, held on gamely. The physical limitations were defeated by inner strength and resilience. And the team bounced back in style in the second Test in Melbourne with Captain Rahne showing the way with a century.
If one needed to be reminded of the fight team India had within it, one need not look further than the third Test (Sydney) when a half-fit team held on for a better part of the day to forge a draw against the best of the attack.
With more injuries and more humour on social media, India had to resort to the services of its reserves, and how well did they serve!
In a way, the role and the thought process of the T20 game, often blamed for diluting the pristineness of the Gentleman’s game, came in handy at Brisbane.
The last 10 overs of the final day at Gabba saw T20 attitude in full display, helping India achieve what is considered the mother of all victories.
The Gabba tussle was transformed into T20 and with just 50 runs needed and Rishabh Pant shed his Test cricket mindset and wore the T20 version to gather runs with unorthodox stroke play.
Rishabh Pant unleashed strokes which made the puritans wreathe in pain. But what really mattered was runs and Pant got them in any which way he could. Sometimes by falling flat on the ground. Others too made use of T20 ingredients freely for the cause of the team.
This stupendous win is as important as the vaccination drive taken up by the Indian government after a painstaking research work by pharma companies.
This mind-boggling win Down Under will enhance the self-esteem of cricketers associated with the game at any level in India.
The last 30-odd minutes at Brisbane is a reflection of the new innovative India which is witnessing a paradigm shift in its lifestyle necessitated by a coronavirus.
The aggression and patience showed players like Shadrul Thakur, Washington Sundar, Hanuma Vihari, and Ravichandran Ashwin echoed the mood of the Indian youth who are gearing up to excel by imbibing the new diktats set in by the virus such Work from Home and virtual cooperate world.
India was on a stretcher when it entered the Brisbane encounter. The resolute mindset exhibited at Sydney which enabled India to achieve a credible draw bolstered the morale of the team – injuries notwithstanding.
The Indian team witnessed three different teams in the first three matches owing to injuries, and the final game saw many youngsters gathering to take up challenge head-on and the final act was the much needed- and much-deserved desert.
The cool-headed skipper Ajinka Rahane, formidable Hanuma Vihari, the cameo by Shadrul, Siraj’s spirited spells, Natarajan’s phenomenal record (debut in three formats in the same series), Game Changer Rishab Pant’s pyrotechnics, patience personified Pujara, and Ashwin’s exploits as a batsman and many other performances will be long remembered.
This one series has brought to light many heroes worth emulating for Gen X.