MUMBAI, Jan 20 (Reuters) – As the impact of India’s fairytale 2-1 series win in Australia gradually sinks in the country would be justified in believing the team’s future is in safe hands after their newcomers gave a good account of themselves ‘Down Under’.
The scenes at the Gabba late on Tuesday afternoon were in stark contrast to those from Adelaide a month ago when India lost the opening test in three days, having suffered the ignominy of scoring their lowest ever innings total of 36.
With India 1-0 down and regular captain Virat Kohli, the team’s batting mainstay, back home to attend the birth of his first child, it did not take pundits long to predict a 4-0 thumping for the tourists against a full-strength Australia.
The situation worsened for India as the injury count mounted and come the series decider in Brisbane, their five-man bowling attack had played four tests between them and taken 11 wickets.
In contrast, Australia’s five bowlers had a total of 1,013 wickets from 249 tests.
The gaping difference in experience did not matter in the end as India defeated Australia at the Gabba – a venue where they had not lost since 1988 – by three wickets to complete an unlikely series triumph.
“Wow. That has to go down as one of the greatest if not the greatest Test victories of all time!! Egg on my face over here in the UK.. but I love to see character & skill.. India have it in abundance,” tweeted ex-England captain Michael Vaughan, who had predicted an Australia whitewash after Adelaide.
Rishabh Pant was under considerable pressure after getting the nod ahead of Wriddhiman Saha, who is considered a better wicketkeeper, following the first test but he repaid the trust in him by finishing as India’s highest scorer in the series.
Pant helped India keep the series level with a draw in Sydney by contributing a scintillating 97 before sealing victory on Tuesday with an unbeaten 89.
“We play him in overseas matches because he’s a match-winner, and he showed us exactly why during this series,” India coach Ravi Shastri said.
Ravaged by injuries during the series, considered one of the toughest tours in world cricket, India handed debuts to five players while using 20.
Fast bowler Mohammed Siraj endured an emotionally testing tour – staying on despite losing his father in November and being abused by the crowd in Sydney – and finished as India’s leading wicket-taker.
Shubman Gill missed the Adelaide opener but immediately resolved India’s opening woes after making his debut in Melbourne and produced a classy fourth innings knock in Brisbane to help the side chase down a venue-record target at the Gabba.
Seamer T. Natarajan and spin bowling all-rounder Washington Sundar were India’s net bowlers but chipped in with useful contributions on debut while paceman Shardul Thakur was also impressive in Brisbane during only his second test.
“The depth of Indian cricket is scary,” summed up former South Africa batting talisman AB de Villiers. (Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ken Ferris)
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