The most immense collective effort helped India chase down a massive target to beat Australia by three wickets and win the series, reports RYAN VREDE.
328 runs. That’s what India needed on the final day’s play to win the Test and the series. It would be a massive task for even the world’s best batting units.
This one was without its best batsman, Virat Kohli, who returned home for the birth of his first child. Also missing, highly competent all-rounders Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. This while facing one of the world’s best bowling attacks, one boasting the world’s No-1 ranked Test bowler. This at a ground where Australia haven’t lost a Test since 1988. And with the wound of being bowled out for 36 in Adelaide still fresh. It’s all forgotten now.
The kids were all right. Shubman Gill, just 21 years old and in his third Test, anchored the innings. At the end of what now is surely going to be a long Test career, he’ll reflect on his 91 today as one of his best.
Then there’s the 23-year-old Rishabh Pant, in his 16th Test. He looks like he has been built for the demands of Test cricket at its most elite level. He carries with him the spirit of his predecessor, MS Dhoni – aggressive, measured and composed under even the most immense pressure. Lest we forget, he wasn’t selected for the first Test.
He came in with the Test in the balance, all three results still possible. You just sensed that he was only going to settle for one, the big one, the one that sends India back home with everything. And he achieved that, driving his side home with an impossibly brilliant innings that ended with him on 89*.
Washington Sundar, 21 and on debut, played like a Test veteran, combining with Pant to take India within 10 runs and leaving them 25 deliveries to do that in. His 22 felt like 82.
Lest we forget, the defiance of Cheteshwa Pujara. His 56 came off 211 deliveries, each of those sucking more of the belief out of the world’s most potent attack. It gave Gill the freedom to do his work in a less pressured environment and laid the foundation for those who were to come.
The collective belief of this India team simply overwhelmed Australia. Despite their limitations from a player-resource perspective, the team never lost any of its fight. It speaks to the depth of talent in Indian cricket that they were able to replace hardened Test players with rookies of this calibre.
And while the batsman excelled on the final day, it would be remiss not to note the efforts of a young bowling attack. They have played just five Test matches between them. However, they were spearheaded by the irrepressible Mohammed Siraj, whose excellence meant they restricted Australia to a gettable target.
The batters then did what they needed to do to finish the day having achieved one of the great Test wins in the game’s history.