India's epic series win will be part of cricketing folklore

Dubai - Despite the banter during the Australia series, India show cricket is still a gentleman's game

By James Jose

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Indian players celebrate their thrilling three-wicket win over Australia in the fourth Test match against Australia at The Gabba in Brisbane. — AFP
Indian players celebrate their thrilling three-wicket win over Australia in the fourth Test match against Australia at The Gabba in Brisbane. — AFP

Published: Tue 19 Jan 2021, 11:39 PM

Last updated: Tue 19 Jan 2021, 11:44 PM

June 25, 1983 and April 2, 2011. Those dates won’t be lost on the fanatical Indian cricket fan. Those dates were when India won the World Cup and while the Natwest Series heist of 2002 too ranks high up there, January 19, 2021 definitely warrants an addition.

India’s remarkable Test win against the Australians at their fortress — the Gabba — and with it the Border-Gavaskar Trophy — the series named after two great stalwarts — was one for the ages and will now be part of cricketing folklore.

This was epic in more ways than one, not least the circumstances in which this was played out Down Under. This riveting series and India’s amazing fightback could perhaps even rival a Netflix or Amazon Original, or even best it. And there would be an apt title for it too — Incredible India!

Incredible, it surely was. This was as original as it could get, this was real, yet one had to pinch oneself to know if it really was because such was the bone-chilling drama. This has all the portents of a nerve-wracking thriller.

Consider this. India were knocked over in Adelaide, a paltry 36 all out spiralling them to the deep end. The captain Virat Kohli had to fly back on paternity leave. A win at the MCG resuscitated them and a battling draw in Sydney gave them just about enough room to breathe. But that victory in Melbourne and the famous stalemate in Sydney came at a cost. India were the walking wounded with their roster resembling more of a hospital ward than a cricket team.

Next up was the ominous Gabba, a venue that struck fear to opposition sides and a venue that Australia hadn’t lost since 1988.

That is an astonishing 32 years! Until Tuesday though.

It was the day India tore up the script and, in some style, too. As Australian captain Time Paine revealed post-match, they wanted to dangle a carrot to tempt India to the chase. The marker was 328 on a fifth-day wearing pitch and the Aussies might have expected to roll over India. They might have thought India quite possibly cannot conjure a fightback every day.

But the Australians were wrong. This brave India sniffed at the carrot and ate it too. India weathered the best Test bowling attack in the world, including the No.1 Pat Cummins, to script what could be termed more than a fairytale, if ever there is one.

As former Indian swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag said India have heroes and then superheroes. After opener Shubman Gill continued to show that he belongs with a well calculated 91, Cheteshwar Pujara, ‘The New Wall’ after Rahul Dravid, put his body on the line for India.

It was a chase plotted with precision. Captain Ajinkya Rahane, who many thought would flounder under the sheer weight, gave the impetus with a 22-ball 24 after which the enigmatic Rishabh Pant conjured a life-altering knock to baby-sat India to a famous and memorable victory.

The victory even made England football captain Harry Kane to sit up and take notice.

Come to think of it, nobody gave this team and Rahane a chance at the start, with most predicting a 4-0 defeat. A painful loss, captain having returned home, injuries, a bio-bubble controversy, racist taunts. They had everything stacked against them. Yet, India, armed with almost a second-string line-up, quite literally rose from the ashes.

And despite all the banter between the sides, Rahane and the team won more hearts by gifting a signed India jersey to Aussie spinner Nathan Lyon to commemorate his 100th Test.

India showed that this is still a gentleman’s game and they came away unscathed and with flying colours.

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