‘If you give them a sniff, they will take that,’ said the Australian skipper Steven Smith after losing the Border-Gavaskar trophy 2-1 to India. India fought like cornered tigers in their own den throughout the series. Like Smith had mentioned, India always came back from behind to eventually outplay the visitors by a huge margin.
The last three Test matches of this series – at Bangalore, Ranchi and Dharamsala- were testimony to this fact where India came on top just when everyone had written them off.
So, what worked in India’s favour in a series where the pendulum swung all too often?
Every player turned into a hero: Before the Dharamsala series-decider, for the first time this season, India didn’t start as favourites with Virat Kohli not taking the field. After Australia started the Test match with a bang scoring 130 runs in the first session with a wicket down, India were quick to pull the game right back into their favour by taking 5 wickets in the next session. From Kuldeep Yadav to Wriddhiman Saha to Ajinkya Rahane – each player stepped up to the occasion when it mattered.
Cheteshwar Pujara ‘meditating’ with the bat: Pujara’s knocks came at a crucial time for India. His amazing resistance in the Bangalore dustbowl where he batted out of his skin to help set a respectable 187-run target for Australia, put India right in the driver’s seat. In the Ranchi Test, it was no different as Pujara batted like a man possessed. He came up with the longest Test innings ever played by an Indian. So calming was the effect of Pujara at the crease that even the other batsmen started putting a price on their scalps.
‘Sir’ Jadeja: Ravindra Jadeja never backed down with the bat or the ball throughout the series. If there was a differentiating factor between the teams it was the Man-of-the-Series Jadeja. He picked up 25 wickets averaging just 18 and also hit two important half-centuries coming down the order.
Indian chin music for the Aussies: It was such a rare sight seeing Indian bowlers steaming in and targeting the ribs and feet of the Australian batsmen – that too on docile Indian pitches. Take nothing away from Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvenshwar Kumar, who bowled their hearts out delivering for the team whenever India were desperate for a wicket. Umesh led the herd with much pride and aggression taking 17 wickets in 4 Tests, averaging 23.