It is almost fragile to state the physical condition of Indian cricket – almost a dozen is already out with injury, over a quarter of a dozen would’ve been ruled out already if given an option and you are playing in Australia – the side that has the best bowling attack in the world and with a full-strength batting order at the disposal, it could pass off as a daunting proposition. Yet, here we are.
The miracle of SCG 2021 followed by MCG 2020 and Adelaide 2020 is exactly why this Indian team is notch above the rest and can claim to be the best ever ensemble cast in the country’s cricketing history. If you’re an Indian cricket fan, there are many reasons to be proud about but this would be the pinnacle.
The cricket on offer was magnanimous but that was not everything. It was the belief system, the spirit of not giving up, which Virat Kohli rightfully termed as the sign of New India. This is still Kohli’s India and it was Kohli’s India that stood up under a stand-in skipper who was comfortable in his own bloody skin.
It was the show of a cricketer who was under the pump and knew that one sturdy inning could only salvage his reputation. Hanuma Vihari decided to take one pill after another to stand in for almost a day to deliver magic. Then it was the show of an all-rounder, who in his self admission, a cricket geek who could never have enough cricket. It was the show of a wicket-keeper whose position is as volatile in the team as that of Matthew Wade’s fielding at silly point and when everything came together, we found a perfect cocktail and an overseas draw for the ages.
“This was as good as winning a Test match. When you come abroad and play a match like this, it is really special. As I said, it was as good as a victory. I think Melbourne was really special for us as a team, coming from the Adelaide loss, the way we bounced back and the way we showed our attitude and character on the field was really good,” Rahane said at the post-match press conference and you can’t really disagree with the same.
“But coming here in Sydney, we were slightly behind the game initially and today we knew we had to chase 407 runs. But the talk was all about fighting till the end. We had to keep our game really simple, not to think about the outcome, result in anything… just play one session at a time. The good thing about the team is everyone actually chipped in at the right time, everyone contributed well, as bowlers, batsmen… that’s what you want. This game was really special and really proud.”
Fundamentally, there was a lot riding on it and India could have been forgiven even if they would have suffered an abject loss at the hands of Australia. But they did not and made Australia toil right till the very end. A player, who had lost his father during the tour and couldn’t attain his funeral, was subject to racial abuse and bravely stood up against it. An all-rounder, who couldn’t even peel off a banana, was all padded up with an injection because his team needs him. In another era, this would’ve been a dream but India made it a reality.
On days like this, you wake up and see how far Indian cricket has come from the days of ignominy when one-odd wins would’ve been considered a great feat. This team has necessarily binned off all those appalling memories and has written a chapter in gold – worth its weight and then some more.