The Battle of Champions: A Fairytale Ending for Team India
Over the past few weeks, India vs Australia Test Series has given us matches which have literally panned out like fairytale scripts for both sides. In the first Test, there was a colossal collapse as Australia bowled India out for a paltry total of 36, which was their lowest ever in the history of the game. Then at the Boxing Day Test, India led by skipper Ajinkya Rahane produced a magnificent all-round display and equalized the series.
In the following Pink Test, they batted for 131 overs in the 4th innings to earn a hard-earned draw at the Sydney Cricket Ground. And to top it all, the Indian Cricket team chased a total of 329 at the Gabba in the 4th and Final test and won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by a scoreline of 2-1 as the Ajinkya Rahane-led side ended India’s tour of Australia on a high.
As we soak in and try to absorb the unbelievable that has transpired, the Bharat Army glances through the Key Moments, Epic Encounters and Story in Numbers that took place at the fortress of The Gabba:
Key Moments that helped India breach the fortress:
1. Australia start strongly but lose their way-
In what is known as the toughest venue to play on for the visiting sides, India lost the toss and were asked to bowl by the Tim Paine-led side and soon after they reduced Australia to 17-2 as both the openers were sent back to the pavilion.
Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith led the fightback but Washington Sundar scalped his first Test wicket as he dismissed Smith. There were healthy contributions from Matthew Wade, Cameron Green and Tim Paine but the highlight was Labuschagne’s century as he led Australia to a total of 369.
From an Indian perspective, the debutants T Natarajan and Washington Sundar as well as Shardul Thakur, who bowled just 10 balls in his 1st test before it was cut short due to injury, picked 3 wickets each.
2. India’s spirited response-
India’s reply was strong but not enough to take a lead as they fell short by 33 runs to the Australian total. There were starts from each of the Indian batsmen, sans Gill, but nobody made it big and were dismissed for a sub-50 score.
At 186-6, it seemed as if the Aussies were all set to grab a 100+ run lead but Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar scored their maiden half-centuries in their debut test innings as they produced a plethora of aesthetic shots in their 123-run stand for the 7th wicket which helped India inch closer to the Australian total.
3. Australia set a mammoth target-
A 3rd innings of a Test match is always tricky for the batting side, especially when they are batting to set a target. How much is an adequate total to give your bowlers enough time and runs to play with? This is a perennial question that bothers the side and Australia had the same dilemma. With 277 runs on the board, there were calls to declare when rain arrived but then Tim Paine batted till the team got bowled out.
Shardul Thakur picked 4 wickets while he bowling and his companion Mohammed Siraj picked his maiden 5-fer in tests as India were set an improbable target of 328 to chase.
4. The iconic chase which won't be forgotten
India negotiated 10 balls towards the end of Day 4 when rain arrived and further play wasn’t possible. The weather forecast for the day wasn’t pleasant but all that changed on Day 5 as the sun was out and skies were clear except for a brief spell of rain. But it wasn’t to stop cricket. Rohit Sharma was dismissed in the 8th over of the day by a characteristic Pat Cummins delivery in the corridor of uncertainty outside off.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill added 114 runs for the 2nd wicket before the young opener was dismissed for 91 by Nathan Lyon but the damage had already been inflicted by the 21-year-old. He took his chances and continued to play audacious shots in the pressure situation. He counterattacked the short balls and took the leg-side field with his pulls and hooks and announced his arrival on the big stage.
Rahane came in and scored a 22-ball 24 as he kept the runs coming from one end. Rishabh Pant had a similar task in hand like SCG and boy, oh boy he was fantastic, to say the least. Pujara scored his slowest ever half-century but was dismissed on the 2nd ball after the 2nd new ball was taken but that didn’t affect Pant who calculated the chase and along with Washington Sundar attacked the Aussies aggressively and took India home as the Bharat Army at Gabba celebrated arguably the greatest Indian Test victory.