Independence Day 2022: Bruised and battered Team India brings the fortress of Gabba down
Human beings have always been fond of underdog stories. There is something about these stories which invokes passion and determination. There is a reason why David and Goliath is such a popular story There is a reason why we always stand by David, despite him being no match for Goliath in terms of size and strength. This is a tale of team India stepping into David's shoes. This is a tale where the world took notice of India's prowess and never say die attitude. The story of that historic Australian Test summer where team India scripted a historic series victory.
"If India wins tomorrow, drop everything and run", gasped renowned commentator Harsha Bhogle on air on the eve of the final day of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. This was the impact of the series which is considered one of the greatest Test series to be played on Australian soil so far. The Test series started dramatically, India, the defending champion of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy was the defending champion and was touted as the favourite to win it once again. On the flip side team, India knew that no Australian side can be taken lightly in their home conditions. The series kicked off with a Day/Night Test match at the Adelaide Oval. India played their hearts out in the pink ball Test match and had Australia on the back foot for some time, but what transpired in the first session of day 3 is something that still gives nightmares when thought about. Australian pacers had a dream session with the trio of Cummins, Starc, and Hazlewood bowling lethal spells and hitting the current length perfectly. The likes of Virat Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, and Rishabh Pant had no answers to this lethal phase of fast bowling as they bundled out for 36 runs. Australia comfortably won the match and India on the other hand was left puzzled by the events that unfolded.
With Indian skipper Virat Kohli leaving after the first Test match, experts from all over the globe started to predict how India was in danger of losing the series by 4-0. In Kohli's absence, Rahane took over the reins of the Indian team. As the series moved to Melbourne for the next Test match, things slowly started to change for India. The visitors who were coming off a crushing defeat dared to tell themselves that they are fierce competitors. The fast bowling contingency faced a major setback with Mohammed Shami being ruled out of the series. India handed out the debut cap to Siraj who showed with every delivery why he was made to play on this level. Indian skipper Rahane led from the front and struck a sublime 112 runs off 223 deliveries. These were not just runs, Rahane's innings invoked the fighting spirit in India and it sent out a message to the hosts that India was not backing down. The Rahane-led team comfortably won the second Test match by a margin of 8 wickets.
The series was evenly balanced with the hosts and visitors having one victory each. As the action moved to Sydney, Australia was becoming desperate to put the pressure back on India and get another win in their kitty. The Kangaroos out of desperation played a nearly fit David Warner who was still recovering from his injury. Courtesy of Steven Smith's magnificent 131 runs, Australia set a target of 406 runs for India to chase down. Unfortunately, the Indian batting crumbled and it left Ashwin and Vihari stranded to rescue India and keep the series alive. In an act of gritty determination Ashwin with a stiff back and Vihari with a torn hamstring, batted out the final day. This is when Tim Paine ended up saying his legendary line "can't wait to see you at the Gabba", a line that will be remembered by Indian cricket fans for generations to come. India drew the Test match and the series was beautifully set up for the Brisbane Test match, the series decider.
Plagued by injury concerns, just before the series decider, India lost Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, and Hanuma Vihari. It still feels unreal and unimaginable to think how the young Indian team pulled this off. The combined experience of the Indian pace battery was just two test matches. Washinton Sundar, Shardul Thakur, and T. Natrajan were handed their debut cap and Australia was oozing with confidence, they felt this was their time.
They set the game up amazingly well for themselves as they wanted India to chase down a mammoth total of 328 runs on the final day. Cheteshwar Pujara endured multiple body blows in his 56 runs innings off 211 deliveries. But it was the bravery of Rishabh Pant which left the Australian team scratching their heads. In one of the finest Test innings ever played, Pant just rattled the Australians and scored 89* off 138 deliveries. India achieved the impossible and won the series by 2-1 when nobody had given them a chance.
India stoop up tall and showed the world that when the tides were against them, they still had the determination to brave it. The entire country stood up while the Indian flag was flying high at the fortress of Gabba.
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