Team India came to Australia for a long tour to Australia for T20 International, ODI and Test series with the reputation of a competitive team. Off course India was the holder of Border Gavaskar Test series. It was their first international assignment during Corona pandemic.
The only cricket Indian cricketers played since March to October 2020 was IPL 2020 played at UAE. There was no cricket at domestic circuit. Australia during the visited and played cricket in England had domestic cricket. At the end of the tour Team India left for home losing only ODI series 1-2 but won T20 series 2-1 and Test series 2-1 . India retained Border Gavaskar trophy. More importantly won its first ever test against Australia at Woolloongabba, the fortress of team Australia. They also achieved another milestone in successfully chasing the highest ever target in the fourth Innings at Gabba.
Incredible Team India glorified their cricket history with magnificent 2-1 series win. Forced playing with depleted team (only Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteswar Pujara Featured in all four test) due to injury and absence, team India turned the table of favorite host Australia. No team in the history of cricket could rebound from the ruins of massive defeat that Team India with first choice team absorbed at the first test –a day night pink ball event. Team India was deflated getting shocked and awed scoring their lowest ever score of 36 in the second Innings. Since then, their superstar Capatin Kohli left for pressing family commitment, front line bowlers Mohammad Sami, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandra Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, became unavailable one by one getting injured. Team management had to include players travelling with the team as net bowlers and additional players for possible CORONA infection at some stage of long tour. In the all-important final test at Woollongabba Indian attack comprised of Mohammad Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini and Washington Sundar, none of whom would have featured if India was not depleted by Injury. Yet new captain Ajinkya Rahane marshaling his resources admirably not only reversed the tide, squared the series 1-1 winning the Boxing Day Test at MCG, earned honorable draw at SCG fighting back to the wall and surprised the cricket world winning the series earning 3 wickets win at Gabba. Indian cricket Icons of the past termed the series win as the best in their cricket history.
Where Lied The Difference?
The questions will continue to be asked why a full-strength Team Australia at home condition lost miserably to depleted India? Analyst must have seen Australia forced India back to the wall at SCG and Gabba. But resilient India salvaged honorable draw at SCG fighting and achieved an incredible win at Gabba chasing improbable target of 328 on the final day on a wearing wicket.
The bowlers win test matches. Australia more or less retained their main weapons of their attack throughout the series. India was forced changing after every match and finally appeared with a completely new attack in the final test. Anyone would agree that Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon are among the best ever bowling combination donning baggy green. Yet such combination failed bowling out weakened Indian batting at SCG and Gabba on the final days. The possible 3-1 series win turned upside down to 2-1 defeat. The combination bowled 228 overs in the fourth innings of two tests claiming only 12 wickets giving away 663 runs.
The Australian four bowlers Lyon, Starc, Hazzelwood and Cummins with combined playing experience of playing 250 tests took 1030. While four Indian bowlers representing India in Brisbane tests together had experience of playing 7 tests and taking only 27. On a relatively flatter Gabba wicket the inexperienced Indian bowlers humbled mighty Australians. Siraj and Shardul Thakur teased Australian bowlers as much as Cummins and Hazelwood. Washington Sunder appearing in his first test looked equally effective as Lyon appearing in his 100th test. Cool calculative Ajinka Rahane marshaled his limited resources much better than his counterpart Tim Paine. The difference of personality between Rahane and Paine was reflected in the ultimate result. Starc was ineffective over most of the series. Sean Abbott warmed the bench only. Green was hardly used. Australia could have tried a leggie at SCG and Gabba. Australian attack was prototyped.
Usually Australian fielding makes a difference in most tests. But in the series Australians dropped more catches than Indians. Paine himself can be blamed for dropping a few crucial catches.
The injury to key bowlers of India in the ultimate analysis proved as a blessing in disguise. Australian pacers looked a bit tired. While fresh legs and hunger for success of new bowlers brought positive dividends for India. Paine and team Australia suffered from complacency. India on the other hand was more committed and determined.
The success of India proved quality, depth and diversity of Indian bowling attack. Subman Gill and Siarj are two finds of the series. Cheteswar was exceptional in his role as anchor of Indian batting, It required top quality ball every time to dislodge him. Rahane was brave. Punt proved a match winner with the bat. India winning tests against Australia without Kohli, Bumrah, Sami, Ashwin and Jadeja augured well of Indian sustainability in test cricket.
This overseas series win will go down as among the best of Indian Cricket history
BDST: 1125 HRS, JAN 20, 2021