DNA Special: How inexperienced Team India managed to create history in Australia

There is a close relationship between our cricket team and the Indian society. Whenever a top player retires, people start to say that the Indian team is finished. When Sachin Tendulkar retired then people said, ‘who will lead India to wins?’ When MS Dhoni retired people said, ‘India will forget how to win’.

When Virat Kohli left Australia to return to India for the berth of his daughter, experts said that the Test series has slipped out of India’s hands. But an India ‘C’ team has now managed to defeat the full-strength team from Australia.

Don’t see this fourth Test match from the point of view of statistics alone. This match brought down a lot of misconceptions. You know that T20 and ODIs are about youth and excitement, but Test cricket is about experience and sensibility. But Indian cricket team managed to prove this theory wrong as well. 

On January 15, the fourth Test began at Gabba in Brisbane. The four-match Test series for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was level at 1-1 going into this Test match. On the one hand, you had the big list of Indian players who were not going turn out for India in this match due to injury — they could form their own playing XI and on the other hand you had the list of lesser experienced Indian players who were expected to win this match for the team.

On this tour of Australia, a 20-member team went from India but the big name players from these were mostly unfit for the last Test match. Captain Virat Kohli returned to India after just one Test for the berth of his daughter. 

But a team which was being called inexperienced and young hunted down a 328-run target on the final day to win the Test match by three wickets and this despite the fact that India were trailing Australia in the first innings. 

Australia had a combined experience of 526 Test matches with 1296 wickets and 24,397 runs to their name. While in the India team, the 11 players accounted for only 226 games with only 33 wickets and 15,436 runs. It needs to be noticed here that Australia’s experience was no doubt higher, India almost had 50 per cent less runs tally while Indian bowlers’ wickets was less than 1 per cent to their counterparts. 

Players who were being called just ‘net bowlers’ managed to bowl out Australia in both the innings. Out of our 5 bowlers — Washington Sundar and T. Natarajan — were making their Test debut in this match but managed to pick up 7 for 288 in the two innings. After making his international debut in this series, Mohammed Siraj managed to pick up six wickets in the match and ended up as the highest wicket-taker for Indian from this series. These three bowlers managed to pick up 13 out of 20 Australian wickets in the Gabba Test.

The one Test in which Virat Kohli was captain, India managed to lose by eight wickets. Interim captain Ajinkya Rahane now has the record of helping India remain unbeaten in five successive games. 

India had so much faith in Virat Kohli as a batsman and as a captain but when team needed him the most he was fulfilling his duties as a new father far away from them. Kohli came out trumps in his role as husband and father but as a captain and Team India player, he failed this time around.

Over the course of this series, a lot of Indian players got injured but Team India showed that taking revenge for these injuries was very important. The way Australian players were making fun of Indian players, that pain served as a medicine for India.

In the second innings of the third Test, Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari were both injured. Vihari could not even run in the second innings while Ashwin’s wife informed through a tweet that the Indian off-spinner was nursing an injured back. 

But if these two didn’t manage to stay put at the crease, India would not have been able to draw the Test. Vihari took 161 balls to score 23 runs but at that stage staying at the crease was more important. Physical injuries were there but Indian cricketers gave proof of their mental strength. 

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Sagar Biswas

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