Cricket India has witnessed some glorious moments on the field & recorded many an amazing feat in its history. But none comes closer to the recent epic test series win by Virat & his team.
It is not the maiden test cricket victory over England in 1952 or the 1971 series win over England; neither what Kapil’s devils achieved in 1983, nor the World Championship in Australia; It is indeed the maiden test series win down under by Kohli & his mortals that shall remain etched in cricketing memory as the most glorious triumph in modern day cricket. No test playing nation from the sub-continent had achieved this historic feat ever before, what India did after 71 years, beating Australia in Australia with the score line reading 2-1 that could easily have been 3-1, had the rain gods not saved the baggy greens, such an ignominy. Virat & team have scripted the most memorable chapter in Indian Test cricketing annals & this kind of performance shall be hard to emulate.
Gavaskars, Kapils, Kumbles, Gangulys & Tendulkars, all have been to the modern Mecca of cricket & yet could not succeed in bringing home the coveted title ever in their playing days. Critics are entitled to their view when they say that perhaps Australia was depleted in its batting department with no Smiths & Warners; but a victory is a victory, no matter what. It is the record books that count more than the self acclaimed punditry or arm chair critique.
Some moments remain etched in our memory long after the event has gone by; one such defining sight was skipper Ganguly taking his shirt off & waving from the Lords balcony after India’s record chase against England in the NatWest tournament final of 2002. Fittingly then Ganguly described this series win in Australia as a terrific win. Who would forget India’s 1983 world cup victory over ferocious West Indies, who boasted of the likes of Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge & Malcolm Marshal in their line up? But yes Kapil & his devils had more than what the cricketing world & thorough bred analysts had thought of them, and thus was history created.
The other famous achievements that cricket India have to their name is the world championship of cricket in Australia in 1985, the Sharjah tournament of 1998, where ‘sachin had single handedly demolished the Australians; the NatWest series finale of 2002, that witnessed the epic partnership between Kaif & Yuvraj steering India home. Not to forget about the 2007 (T20) Triumph & 2011 world cup victory under Dhoni, apart from the Championship trophy of 2013.
However this series win after 71 years shall remain the most fascinating of them all, given the tough conditions & the tougher, hard to beat, bunch of Kangaroos, who can employ all the tricks in the book to unsettle you, once you have touched down on the tarmac. It needed a brutish, highly confident & supremely fit, eye for eye, brick for brick, sledge for sledge & highly talented captain King Kohli’s approach to get the better of the Australians to flatten them in their own backyard. What was remarkable about this victory was the clinical fashion, with which team India, under a smart, knowledgeable & effusive coach in Ravi Shastri went about their business, with no qualms about their superiority or hang-ups about their preparation or the goal in mind. They were ruthless to say the least & that got them over the finishing line.
Commenting on the feat, Ravi Shastri said: “I will tell you how satisfying it is for me. World Cup 1983, World Championship of Cricket 1985, this is as big, or even bigger, because it is in the truest (Test) format of the game. It’s Test cricket, which is meant to be the toughest. He said that this team can go over the cliff to beat anyone in the world. There have been lot of pluses that team India can marvel about in days & months to come.
One such revelation has been the diminutive, yet agile & street smart wicket keeper batsman Rishabh Pant. Over to the stump microphones & you could hear him use the Australian accent, while exhorting the bowlers, Hanuma Vihari in particular & boy did you see him blasting Starc down the ground like an arrow, with a bat speed faster than what the ball was bowled with. Rishabh Pant incidentally turned out to be the 2nd highest run getter in the series including a ground breaking 159 during the last test match. Add to this his record 20 catches behind the stumps & he has already asserted his place in test match cricket for many years to come. The other huge plus has been hitting of purple patch by Cheteshwar Pujara. The man gifted with hawk eyes, steely resolve, utmost application & supreme dedication. To me, he was the tormentor in chief of the Australians. Pujara amassed a whopping 521 runs, including 03 hundreds at an average of 74.42 runs per innings.
Coupled with some gritty display by Kohli himself, whose knocks in first two test matches, must have lifted the team spirit, Ajinkya Rahane’s bold exhibition when chips were down & coming to the party like fresh air was Mayank Aggrawal, the newest import, sought under distress. Ladies & gentlemen, please take a bow to the “Bumrahs, Ishants, Shamis, Kuldeeps & Jadejas, all of whom bowled with great rhythm & immaculate precision, unseen of before. To put this in perspective, Indian bowling unit took all but 70 wickets in all of 4 test matches with 01 innings lost to rain, meaning therefore that they bowled out Australians in 07 innings of the 08 that they were exposed to this tireless & highly motivated bunch of red ball maestros. No wonder then Bumrah finished at the top of bowling charts with 21 scalps alongside Nathan Lyon with an equal tally.
One can gauge the significance of such a historic win, when you hear the likes of Vivian Richards or the Pakistan PM Imran Khans’ congratulatory message to Team India & Virat Kohli. Not to be left behind cricket India’ first lady Anushka Sharma wrote on her twitter handle “They came. They conquered. History written and created by this bunch; Huge congratulations to all players, coaching unit and support staff; it takes undying perseverance and solid conviction to focus on what’s important and shut out the rest; So happy and proud of you my love Virat.”