“The Drubbings Have Gone. Bring On The New India”

January 9, 2019

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”When you fire from there, by the time it crosses the southern hemisphere, it’s blown away by the wind like a tracer bullet.”

As the final day of the fourth and final Test was washed out by rain without much rain at all, India were rather nonplussed. After all, they were to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy having won the series at home. But there was a bigger play here: a draw would seal India’s first series win in Australia, ever. That’s right, ever. It’s a superlative achievement by Virat Kohli’s new-look, fearless Indian side: a team that is bristling with youth, unburdened by the shackles of the past. The only downside to the fifth day’s action (or lack thereof) was India’s lost chance to notch another deserved win and take the series 3-1. But after 71 years, they’d take 2-1.

It was an interesting Test series, in that the series started tight, hit its peak early before petering out in the final Test. Reverse the order of results, and the series would be viewed in a different light. That, of course, is from the neutral’s point of view. There was plenty of quality fast bowling from both sides, relentless spin from (mainly) Nathan Lyon, and obdurate batting from (almost entirely) Cheteshwar Pujara. The Man of the Series was the difference between the two sides in nearly all Tests, a patient man who has taken his own spin on the original Wall, Rahul David, formerly the scourge of Australian bowling. It was through him that India ground out high first inning scores. After being dropped for the 1st Test in England, this was proof that an Indian Test side without Che is no Test side. And hence, it is to him that an entire nation doffs their caps too.

“But lead, with something in it, can be something serious. And that’s what we have fired right through the series.”

India went into the series on the back of promising, yet eventually disappointing Test results in South Africa and England. In both series, they won a Test yet lost all others in the series; but the scoreline flattered to deceive. India tended to lose the key moments, especially against the tail. In this aspect, India struggled slightly once again, giving runs to Pat Cummins, Lyon and co. Compared to India’s feeble lower order, it could have proven to be a differential. But largely, the three overseas tours have seen India make big strides towards the future.

If anything, this series should have settled the identity of India’s future opening pair. With KL Rahul squandering his umpteenth chance once again, Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw should be the ones leading India out in the Tests to follow. With Rishabh Pant’s batting masking his weaker but improving keeping, India’s batting is sprinkled with experience and exuberance all over. Ashwin, Jadeja and Kuldeep provide a bevy of spin options, while Jasprit Bumrah leads an excellent pace attack flanked by Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami. It looks rosy.

“We were committed, and it jolly well bloody made a difference at the end. This is an Indian cricket team that will jump over a cliff to win a Test.”

Lastly, a word for Ravi Shastri’s fight against criticism from the northern hemisphere. His press conference made that agenda clear, even if his statements were bemusing. His allusion to Gavaskar’s comments (after whom the trophy is named) left Captain Kohli in a stifled chuckle. But whatever be his headline-grabbing strategies, one thing is clear: Kohli’s passion has invigorated the entire squad. And they’ve now crossed the eternal final frontier.

The days of 4-0 drubbings have long gone. Bring on the new India.

In other news

  • The ICC’s rules remain archaic and strange. Playing in drizzle is not an issue, unless play has to be restarted in drizzle. Rain is not the issue, but time wastage when there are perfectly fine conditions. Pitch inspections and a stubbornness to shift lunch/tea breaks after long stoppages in play are just pointless. It is why cricket, for all its brilliance, remains inefficient amongst its self-made red-tape.
  • Australia have plenty of work to do before the Brisbane Test against Sri Lanka on 24th It is understandable that the batting is weaker without David Warner and Steve Smith, who will almost definitely walk into the Test side once their year-bans expire. But remove Pujara and Kohli in India, and the home side would still win. At home, batting inefficiency is no excuse. At least, they have started by ushering the Marsh brothers out of the squad after continual inconsistency. And so has Aaron Finch and Peter Handscomb. Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw are in line to get another opportunity. Interestingly, so has Will Pucovski, the Victorian 20-year old picked on potential. Having scored 243 against Western Australia, this is his chance, if he gets it, to stake his claim in the middle order. He has, however, had mental health issues, and so will have to be managed carefully. Nevertheless, his time will come. More disappointing is Glenn Maxwell’s continual omission.
  • The Sri Lanka-New Zealand series should be renamed the Perera-Neesham Series after the New Zealander took Perera apart from countless sixes. Both finished with plenty of runs in the series, taking each other for runs.
  • With 2019, comes the Cricket World Cup in the summer. It’s going to be a fun year of cricket.

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Author: Rahul Warrier

Rahul is a freelance football writer, having delved into writing in 2015. Based in Singapore, he is a senior writer at These Football Times. His work has also been featured on FourFourTwo, Yahoo Sport, IBWM and MEN among others. He's a football fan, but a cricket enthusiast first.

Twitter @rahulw_

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