Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Summer of 36

Border Gavaskar Series, the famous rivalry between India and Australia begun on the onset of winter in India. For Aussies, it was the start of their home summer season, trying to regain the trophy. Adelaide hosted the first ever pink ball test match between the two sides saw a bizarre batting collapse by India. 36 all out – the lowest ever made by India. As a fan was dejected to see such horrible batting display despite being on top of the match all along. It was going to haunt for years to come. Down and out.

With 1-0 down in the series, Kohli leaving the camp and going back home, Shami adding to the injury list, there were too many problems in front of Indian cricket team. Ajinkya Rahane, led the team at Melbourne. The odds of losing the match and losing the series were high. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The force of humiliation in Adelaide got the team moving forward. They showed brilliant character and made a great comeback at MCG. MCG was won and series was evenly poised at 1-1 going to Sydney.

Sydney saw Warner joining the Australian team, giving them a firm opener who could score quick runs at the start. But Md Siraj, who had experience of just 1 international test match, had other plans. He dismissed Warner cheaply and it opened a gate for Indian team to rattle the Australian batting top order. As they say, champions don’t remain silent for long, Steve Smith returned to his form making a splendid century that shifted the momentum towards Australia. Come to Day 5, setting a target of over 400, with the anticipation of pitch deteriorating, it looked cakewalk for Aussies. Cometh the hour, cometh the champions. The first session saw an epic Pujara and Pant partnership. As they cruised, there was a sense of calmness in the Indian camp. In the second half of the day, came the resilience of Hanuma Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin. A partnership of strength and toughness. Bruised and battered. These two played a marathon innings and draw the test match for the country. We were going to Gabba – the fortress with series on 1 apiece and Paine was eagerly waiting for it.

Welcome to the Gabba, the fortress for Australia, never lost a test match since 1988. A perfect venue for Australia team to win the match and the series. But there was twist in the tale. The fortress was breached by a completely inexperienced bowling attack and relatively less experienced batting too. Again, Pujara started the fight even got few blows on the body but was firm in concentration. The last hour heroic moment was sealed by Rishabh Pant. Winning tastes sweeter when everybody expects the least of you. This young generation had the firepower that transpired a famous win at Gabba. Plenty of folklores to tell.

What an exceptional tour for Siraj. From a 3rd choice seamer to leading the bowling attack in a matter of 2 tests. Debutants Sundar and Natarajan scripted another story they can tell for years to come, especially Natarajan who stayed back being a net bowler.  Every player had their story to tell, a story of defiance, inspiration and dedication. Pujara’s determination, Vihari and Ashwin’s temperament, and most importantly the character of Ajinkya Rahane to lead this team to glory. A captain is as good as his team. This series win is more special as the team was without their main set of players. We have done it twice in a row. Great achievement. On December 19th we were bruised, on January 19th we won a battle. A battle against mighty Aussies at their home, routing out the world class bowlers.

Grit, Guts, Glory!

Madhurendra Kumar for DieHard Cricket Fans

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