Nobody can ever forget what India achieved Down Under a couple of days back. A Test series against a full-strength Australian side, at their own turf, and that too after playing with a depleted team due to injuries, is something that hasn’t happened before in Indian cricket history. This is now a memory we can cherish throughout our lifetime, a tale we can narrate to the next generation, a feeling that will fill us with warmth and pride everytime we reminisce it.
Each and every player of the Indian contingent braved injuries, overcame their fears and fought hard against an intimidating Australian side. The never-say-die spirit, the hunger to win and the determination to punch above their weight is what made the performance of the Indian players so memorable. So, without further adieu, let us take a look at the top five performances by Indian players during the series.
Ajinkya Rahane’s 112 at the MCG
This was the innings that turned things around for India after their horror-show in the pink-ball Test at Adelaide. The nightmares of being bowled out for 36 in the first Test was still haunting them and their skipper, Virat Kohli, had gone back to India to attend the birth of his child as well. So, not only they were short on confidence but were walking into the MCG without their best batsman, and leader, as well.
But Rahane, the stand-in skipper in absence of Kohli, stood up and played a magnificent knock of 112 in the second innings of the match. He walked out to bat at No.4 with 61 runs on the board for India and took control of the proceedings straightaway. His 112 came off 223 deliveries and consisted of 12 classy boundaries. By the time he was dismissed, he had taken India to a score of 294 — 99 runs more than Australia’s first innings total.
India were finally bowled out for 326. Australia couldn’t stand against the Indian bowlers in the second Innings as well and thus were bowled out for just 200 runs, giving India a target of 70 to chase. India reached the target with eight wickets to spare and Rahane remained unbeaten on 27 once again.
Rishabh Pant’s 89* at Brisbane
The 23-year-old got India very close to a win in Sydney with his knock of 97. But he couldn’t carry on till the end and India had to settle for a draw. However, he was determined to guide his team home when he found himself in a similar situation on the final day of the fourth Test at Brisbane.
Pant, first off all, combined with Cheteshwar Pujara for a 61-run stand for the fourth wicket. He contributed 34 off 84 balls in that partnership but once Pujara got dismissed, he shifted gears to score 55 off the next 54 deliveries he faced. He stitched together two more important stands of 37 and 53 with Mayank Agarwal and Washington Sundar after that, and thus took India over the line in what turned out to be one of the greatest victories in the history of Test cricket.
Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar at the Gabba
India couldn’t have won the final Test at Brisbane without their efforts. Before Rishabh Pant sealed the deal for India, it was Thakur and Sundar’s all-round efforts that kept India in the match. The visitors were 186/6 in reply to Australia’s first innings total of 369. But the debutant Sundar and Thakur, who was playing only his second Test, combined to stitch up a 123-run stand for the seventh wicket. While Thakur scored 67, Sundar played a gritty knock of 62 as well.
Not only that, they had registered impressive bowling figures of 3/94 and 3/89 in the first innings as well. They followed that up with another fine bowling effort in the second outing as Thakur picked up 4 wickets for just 64 runs and Sundar picked up the important wicket of David Warner as well. What happened after that has already been mentioned before. Rishabh Pant played a memorable knock of 89* to help India in chasing down the target of 328.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari at the SCG
It looked like India were on the cusp of defeat as they were reduced to 272/5 on the final day of the third Test match at the SCG, with more than 40 overs to go. But Ashwin and Vihari braved injuries and put on a terrific display of grit, resolve and undying spirit. The duo occupied the crease for 44.4 overs and thus saved the Test match for India.
While Vihari, struggling through a hamstring issue, remained not out on 23 after facing 161 balls, Ashwin saw through 128 deliveries with a score of an unbeaten 39 to his name. Their outstanding efforts helped India to save the match and stay alive in the series.
Shubman Gill’s 91 at Brisbane
His positive mindset and attacking approach at the top of the order is what helped India in staying in the hunt for the target in the series-decider. Gill seemed unperturbed with his opening partner Rohit Sharma’s early dismissal. It was visible that he was in superb touch right from the onset of the innings. The Australian Pacers tried their short-ball tactics against Gill but the youngster was fully prepared for it. He treated each of those deliveries with disdain and was absolutely merciless in dealing with loose deliveries.
A century was written all over the cards for the youngster but a little lapse in concentration cost him his wicket finally. Gill was dismissed on 91 by Lyon with India’s score reading 132/2. His innings consisted of a total of eight boundaries and two sixes. The match might have been finished by Rishabh Pant in the end, but it was Gill who laid the foundation of that chase.
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