WTC Final: Top 6 Memorable Performances by Indian Batsmen

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WTC Final: Top 6 Memorable Performances by Indian Batsmen

20 May 2021 602 Views Yash Mittal

Team India under the leadership of Virat Kohli will embark on the tour of England next month where they will lock horns with New Zealand in the inaugural ICC World Test Championship Final at Hampshire Bowl, Southampton between June 18-22 before taking on hosts England in a gruelling five-match Test series later in the summer. We are thrilled to announce that Bharat Army Travel has been appointed as the Official Travel Agent for the World Test Championship Final 2021. Join the Bharat Army - Team India's global supporters' group for the WTC Final Tickets.

May be an image of text that says "POINTS TABLE ICC WORLD TEST CHAMPIONSHIP 2019-21 bharat arm TEAM SERIES MATCHES WON INDIA 6 LOST 17 NEW ZEALAND DRAW PCT% POINTS 12 4 5 1 11 72.2 7 AUSTRALIA 520 4 4 0 14 70.0 8 ENGLAND 420 4 6 2 21 69.2 PAKISTAN 11 332 7 5.5 3 12 61.4 4 WEST INDIES 442 4 5 3 09 43.3 3 SOUTH AFRICA 286 4 6 0 11 SRI LANKA 33.3 3 160 8 4 0 08 30.0 1 BANGLADESH 144 6 2.5 1 05 16.7 0 80 5 0 0.0 0"

India, the World’s No.1 ranked Test team, was the best side during the 2019-21 ICC World Test Championship cycle. During this period, the Indian cricket team played six series and won five of them which also includes a historic Test series win Down Under by 2-1.

So, as we build up to the WTC final against New Zealand, we at the Bharat Army will be doing a series of articles to relive Team India’s campaign. First up is a piece on some of the memorable performances by Indian batsmen during the WTC cycle.

6. Rohit Sharma- 161 (231) vs England, Chennai 2021

Rohit Sharma spearheaded India's batting throughout the World Test Championship campaign following his debut as an opener during the 2019 home series against South Africa.

Sharma played several memorable knocks during the two-year period. His twin hundreds against South Africa in Vizag and his double ton at Ranchi against the same opposition were another reminder of why the Mumbai cricketer remains one of the most talented batsmen to have ever played the game.

But given the context of the game and the series, the conditions on offer, his 161 in the first innings of the 2nd Test against England earlier this year remains one of our favourite Rohit Sharma's knock.

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Team India was reeling at 3/86 at the end of the morning session after having won the toss with captain Virat Kohli falling for a duck. But, Sharma, along with Ajinkya Rahane (67 off 149 balls) weathered the storm with a brilliant 162-run-stand for the 4th wicket.

Rohit blunted the English attack with his trademark nonchalance coupled with the new arsenal in his armoury- the sweep shot- on what was a raging turner at the Chepauk. He made it look like he was batting on a completely different strip as compared to others.

Sharma registered his first 150+ score against England and by the time he was dismissed for 161, he had done more than enough to ensure that India draw level the series as England capitulated to 134 & 164 against the off-spin of Ashwin and Axar.

5. Ajinkya Rahane-  112 (123) vs Australia, MCG 2020

Ajinkya Rahane may have endured an indifferent run with the bat during the recent winter Tests against Australia and England but having said that, his critical knocks in Melbourne and then in the 2nd Test in Chennai cannot be ignored.

In many ways, Ajinkya Rahane's chanceless ton in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test laid the cornerstone of the eventual series triumph Down Under.

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India was still reeling from the horrors of 36 all-out in Adelaide; they were without their best batsman in Virat Kohli and to make matters worse, their top-3 had been knocked over for just 64 when captain Rahane walked out to bat.

Rahane played a near chanceless knock as he respected the good balls while dealing with the rare bad deliveries that the Aussies offered. He stitched crucial 52 and 57-run partnerships with Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant respectively before accumulating another 121 runs with Ravindra Jadeja before he, unfortunately, got run-out.

But by then, India, as it eventually turned out, had already accumulated enough lead to bowl Australia out cheaply again and knock off the required 70 runs in the fourth innings- where Rahane once again played a captain's knock- to draw level the series.

4. Hanuma Vihari 23 (161) and Ravichandran Ashwin 39* (128), vs Australia,  Sydney 2021

Test cricket isn't merely about the number of runs you accumulate, it is also about the time you spend on the crease to help your team escape a certain defeat.

It is about grit, determination, "over my dead body" attitude and we saw loads of it from the duo of Hanuma Vihari and R. Ashwin during the Sydney Test as both batsmen battled personal demons, excruciating physical pain to script one of the greatest escapes in Test cricket history.

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Rishabh Pant's whirlwind knock of 97 had caught Australia off guard earlier in the day but by the time the southpaw was eventually dismissed, India still needed to bat out more than 50 overs to salvage a draw.

Cheteshwar Pujara was soon dismissed which meant that it was all down to an out-of-form Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin to pull out the impossible.

What made the probability of that happening even more improbable was that Hanuma Vihari pulled his hamstring and Ashwin was already reeling with a bad back.

But, as they say, if you have the will and desire to achieve something, you can overcome even the greatest of adversities and that is exactly what the duo of Vihari and Ashwin did as they blunted the famed Aussie attack to the dust.

And, one could sense the frustration in the Aussie camp when Tim Paine made the infamous jibe at Ashwin "Can't wait to get you to the Gabba, Ash" as their hopes of taking a lead in the series kept taking a beating with every ball that the Indian pair negotiated.

The duo blunted close to 50 overs and overall, India batted for 131 runs- the most by an Asian team in the 4th innings in draws in Australia- and the fourth-most by an Indian team in their Test history.

3. Shubman Gill 91 (146) & Cheteshwar Pujara 56 (211), vs Australia, Brisbane 2021

There is a reason why I have clubbed Vihari-Ashwin and Gill-Pujara together. And, that is because one can't do justice to either of these knocks without taking into context of what was happening at the other end.

Watching Cheteshwar Pujara and Shubman Gill bat together on the final day of the Brisbane Test was like listening to a classical song coupled with a modern-day rap.

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While Pujara took umpteen blows on various parts of his body and ensured that he stood his ground to blunt out the Aussie pacers, Shubman Gill, on the other hand, dazzled with his amazing stroke play as he took the likes of Starc to task with his imperious cover-driving and hook-pull strokes.

While Pujara ensured that he had blunted enough overs to ensure India a draw, Gill, on the other hand, continued to chip away at Australia's total. It was a classic case of caution and aggression and it worked wonders for India as their 114-run-stand for the 2nd wicket laid the platform for a triumph for the ages for Team India.

2. Shardul Thakur 67 (115) and Washington Sundar 62 (144), vs Australia, Brisbane 2021

The win at Gabba wouldn't have been possible had Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar not played out of their skins in the first innings after India had been reduced to 6/186 in reply to Australia's 369.

Thakur and Washington, both of whom were batting for the first time in Test cricket, showed remarkable composure as they traded blows for blows with the Aussie attack and stitched a match-turning 123-run-stand.

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It was a partnership full of valour, determination, and an array of sumptuous stroke play which included disdainful pull-shots, delightful cover drives, on-drives, and also a 'no look' swat across the line by Washington Sundar against Nathan Lyon.

The 123-run-stand ensured that India conceded just 33 runs lead to Australia, and the rest, as they say, is history.

1. Rishabh Pant- 89* (138) vs Australia, Brisbane 2021

The 2nd half of the World Test Championship cycle proved to be the making of Rishabh Pant- the International cricketer- as the 23-year-old southpaw played numerous match-winning knocks in tough situations besides showing remarkable improvement as a wicket-keeper.

Pant smashed a match-saving 97 in the fourth innings of the Sydney Test besides scoring a 92 in Chennai when India we're starting at a huge 1st innings deficit before peeling off a match-winning hundred against Anderson & co at Ahmedabad.

But, unarguably, his best knock came against Australia in the fourth innings of the Gabba Test where he scored a mature, superbly calculated knock of 89* to help India gun down 328 and win the series.

Pant had come to the crease following the loss of Ajinkya Rahane's wicket with India still needing a further 161 runs from the next 42.5 overs.

He started off cautiously, even survived a stumping chance against Nathan Lyon, lost his senior partner Cheteshwar Pujara as soon as Australia took the new ball but once he got his eyes in, the southpaw looked impenetrable at the crease

He peeled off imperious drives, square cuts, and straight drives against the Aussie quick besides employing the slog sweep to good effect against Lyon.

May be an image of one or more people, people playing sport and text that says "UTPRO bharat army OOVS bgn END OF THE MATCH AUSTRALIA haroy O 369 INDIA 294 THIS INNINGS 336 Shubman Gill 91 (146) Rishabh Pant 89* 38) INDIA WON BY WICKETS 329/7 Pat Cummins 24-10-55-4 Nathan Lyon 31-7-85-2"

Besides all his strokes, Rishabh Pant rotated the strike brilliantly and along with Washington Sundar kept chipping away at the target.

Sundar's six off Cummins over fine-leg and then a four past the gully region eventually opened the floodgates as Pant backed it up with a slog sweep and a cheeky reverse-sweep off Nathan Lyon.

Sundar and Shardul got dismissed in trying to go for the glory shot but Pant stayed till the end and it was only fitting that he stroked the winning runs- a straight drive past long-off- to bring up one of India's greatest-ever Test series wins.

Yash Mittal

Bharat Army Cricket Writer


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