Australia versus India: The debutants Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill play in the team of the series


In the midst of a pandemic, Australia and India held one of the largest series of tests of all time, going straight into the depths of the historic Gabba.

A severely exhausted Indian squad made a comeback for the ages in Brisbane, with the young starlets playing a major role in breaching the Australian fortress at the venue.

At the end of an intensive four-test series in which we all held our breath together, we have put together an XI of the best artists on both sides.

OPENER – ROHIT SHARMA (INDIA)

In a series where most of the openers didn’t fire, Rohit Sharma’s mediocre ads are enough to carry him into Finale XI. The Indian star only entered the fight in the penultimate test in Sydney as a late arrival in the quarantine bubble and immediately provided a massive upgrade from Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal.

On his first overseas tour as an opener, Rohit looked comfortable for the most part. What will upset him is the fact that he failed to get the most out of his great starts on the crease.

OPENER – SHUBMAN GILL (INDIA)

In a series that casts multiple success stories, few were bigger than those of Shubman Gill, who affirmed his status as the next big thing in cricket. The 21-year-old looked just as confident as any veteran against Australia’s intimidating new ball attack, helping himself to 259 runs with an average of nearly 52 in his first series of tests.

Gill’s back foot slaps were a delight, while his stylish pull shots made people like Mitchell Starc look like pedestrians. A certified future superstar who has now cemented his place on the Indian side with just six innings.

NUMBER 3 – MARNUS LABUSCHAGNE (AUSTRALIA)

The Australian batsman lived dangerously at times and can be grateful to the Indian outfield players who spilled several catches. However, he made the most of his luck to finish the series by a fair margin as the leading runscorer. Labuschagne added a fifth test ton to his kitten and made sure his remarkable change continued unabated for the past year and a half.

With Steve Smith unable to fire in the series’ first two Tests, it was the 26-year-old who held up Fort for Australia with some constant appearances in Adelaide and Melbourne.

NUMBER 4 – STEVE SMITH (AUSTRALIA)

The Australian fulcrum had a tough time in the first and second tests as it even gave its ICC No. 1 ranking to Kane Williamson due to poor form. Just as the critics started circling Smith, he responded to them in Sydney with a defiant barrel.

The right-hander came excruciatingly close to making it two centuries in a row before dropping to 81 in the SCG’s second innings. He also ended the series on a strong note, with his rapid fire fifty in the gabba. Ultimately, only Labuschagne scored more runs in the series despite Smith’s miserable start.

NUMBER 5 – AJINKYA RAHANE (INDIA)

Rahane’s stature has improved significantly following the demeanor he displayed while picking up the Indian squad following Virat Kohli’s departure. The composed century of the middle order stalwarts in Melbourne sparked India’s historic comeback on the series. The innings helped the visitors to gain a phenomenal lead in the test.

The way Rahane mingled his exhausted troops throughout the series, as well as his excellent tactics and ingenuity, make him an automatic choice for the skipper of this XI. He has yet to be beaten as the replacement skipper of the Indian test team.

WICKETKEEPER – RISHABH PANT (INDIA)

Why Rishabh Pant was not used in the Adelaide opening test has become all the more perplexing after his groundbreaking performances in Sydney and Brisbane. The youngster had announced himself with a bang on his previous tour in 2018-19 and picked up where he left off after being thrown into the group in Melbourne.

It is testament to Pant’s undeniable talent that his best for India came in the fourth innings of the Sydney and Melbourne Tests. His brilliant 97 at the SCG almost resulted in one of the most epic chases in history, and he duly finished the job with his unbeaten 89 at the Gabba. Despite just three Tests, he was India’s top scorer, while his average of 68.50 among all batsmen on either side was the highest to have played at least two innings.

ALL-ROUNDER – RAVINDRA JADEJA (INDIA)

Jadeja’s participation in the series was limited to just two tests due to injuries, but he gave a solid report on himself whenever he stepped on the field. The all-rounder shone in all aspects of the game Down Under, be it bowling, hitting or fielding.

Its bat-in-hand population continues to grow and India will believe they now have a real all-rounder in their ranks. His four-wicket breakout in Sydney and his struggling half-century in Melbourne were critically important in the context of the series.

SPINNER – RAVICHANDRAN ASHWIN (INDIA)

It has been referred to as the battle between the off-spin of Ashwin and Nathan Lyon, and it was the former that scored trumps by far. While Lyon was unusually poor on its home turf, Ashwin showed its elite qualities by claiming 12 wickets in its three test appearances.

The Indian star played with great time and was able to hold a stranglehold on Steve Smith in the first half of the series. He complemented his bowling shows with a grainy display of the bat in Sydney and battled a sore back to help India score a highly competitive draw.

PACER – PAT CUMMINS (AUSTRALIA)

Some of Australia’s big names may have to look closely after this unexpected surrender, though Pat Cummins may run away with his head held high after a monumental effort.

The world’s greatest bowler showed why it is a different sauce compared to the rest of the crop, with a relentless demeanor and the result of an absolute workhorse. While Cummins didn’t claim a single five for the series, his incredible consistency allowed him to claim an incredible 21 wickets with an average of just 20.

He had nearly been knocked to the ground with a 162 overs workload, but he never showed any signs of fatigue on a marathon display.

PACER – JOSH HAZLEWOOD (AUSTRALIA)

While Cummins was all about unwavering consistency, Hazlewood touched greater heights when he was on Song. The 5: 8 sailor’s sensational magic brought India’s batsmen to their knees in the 36 debacle and is one that few bowlers can match in the years to come.

Only his teammate Cummins picked more wickets in the series than Hazlewood, who averaged a star of 19.35 in the four tests.

PACER – MOHAMMED SIRAJ (INDIA)

Mohammed Siraj came to Australia as the unlimited pacemaker and led India’s bowling attack in the gabba finals in one of the most endearing stories to emerge from the series.

His wobbly seam position surprised Australia’s best batsmen and he rightly ended the series with a first five-wicket move in the final test. He finished the streak as India’s leading wicket taker with a 13 scalp averaging less than 30. Although he may not be India’s first choice bowlers after the injured pacemaker returns, Siraj has moved himself into pole position for the future.

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