The resilience and character of India are rightly recognized after visitors closed the curtains on a bumblebee in a test series with a historic victory at the gabba.
Breaking through an Australian fort that is over 32 years old is no easy task after all, especially as a massively exhausted squad misses out on their entire first-choice bowling attack and best batsman. That they managed the highest successful chase in Brisbane to create the spectacle makes winning the fourth Test all the more commendable.
For India it was a win in several ways, from the hardship of recovering from the humiliation of only playing in the opener for 36 to her remarkable serenity under all sorts of adversity. Most importantly, it was a moment when they really built on their superpower status in sport in the rest of the cricket world.
They had already won their first series win on Australian soil two years ago when they beat the hosts by the same margin without Steve Smith and David Warner. But the highs of this tour pale in comparison to the statement they made Down Under this time.
This was an Australian team that had three players apiece in the top 10 of the ICC Test ranking for batsmen and bowlers. They also boasted the No. 1 batsman and the bowler in the form of Steve Smith and Pat Cummins, respectively.
Pakistan and a soaring New Zealand were emphatically whitewashed last Australian summer. Many feared that the same fate would await India after its Adelaide debacle.
Even though Ajinkya Rahane’s forces had withdrawn eight of their XI first-line choices at the time of the gabba decider, they managed to do the unthinkable. They had to dig deep into their reserves to cobble together an XI for Brisbane, with quarantine rules severely affecting their chances of flying in the event of replacement injuries.
In the end, they went up against Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur and T Natarajan – three mostly white ball specialists who had only stayed in Australia to act as net bowlers. All three played a major role in the win, with Sundar and Thakur’s all-round displays being the cornerstone of Australia’s decline.
21-year-old Shubman Gill sizzled on his debut streak and his enterprising 91 on a fifth day was instrumental in creating the platform for Tuesday’s win. The work was duly finished by the 23-year-old Rishabh Pant, whose undefeated 89 brought down the fortress on the Gabba.
And who can forget Mohammed Siraj’s hand in all this when the Hyderabad man is leading India’s bowling attack with such composure after making his debut just two Tests ago?
Australia is a difficult place for any visiting player, let alone a number of debutants with a handful of top-notch appearances. That the young gun and white ball specialists of India were still unfazed by the daunting challenge ahead is proof of India’s burgeoning power at the top of the game.
It’s not far-fetched to think that a cricket-mad population well over a billion can put three playing XIs together. However, it shows the strength of the reserves that newcomers can be thrown into the cauldron of test cricket of the highest quality and still emerge unscathed from the fire.
Playing against the world’s most elite cricketers is nothing new to the emerging Indian generation who have honed their skills alongside the world’s greatest players during the Indian Premier League. Because of this, an unannounced T Natarajan can be included in his first international series, picking up wickets from the bucket loads on previous clashes with limited overruns.
This is also the reason why a 21-year-old Washington Sundar can excel at the gabba with both racket and ball, despite having only played 12 top-class games in India before.
This beautiful new India was embodied by Sundar on the last day when he hooked a raiding Pat Cummins for a giant six. The match was razor-sharp after Cummins’ later breakthrough breathed new life into Australia.
For the first time that day, doubts surfaced about India’s potential to go for a win rather than a draw. That bold shot from Sundar removed all those worries and India later headed for a fine victory under Pant’s leadership.
Years of financial dominance are now finally beginning to translate for India on the ground, and they now have a domestic infrastructure to produce thousands of talent. You have the greatest resources, talent pool, and passionate cricket base to build an empire unlike any seen in sport before.
The passion for sport in the country is comparable to the popularity of football in Brazil. Unlike the South American football giants, India’s financial forces don’t have to worry about losing their best talent to other countries.
Everything is in place for them to dominate cricket for decades, and the new India set a bold milestone in Brisbane.
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