In the recently concluded four-match series, while Australia came prepared, India arrived late. After beating England and New Zealand with minimum fuss, the result in Pune came a rude shock and a timely reminder that every Test match has to be won and every opposition has to be respected.
It also taught all of us in the media that Test cricket isn't so much about what happened in the past (Australia couldn't draw a Test in Sri Lanka and India didn't lose a single Test for over a year) but only about what happens on the day.
Turning Point of the Series
After winning the first day of the second Test at Bangalore, Australia needed to win just one more day to seal the fate of the series, and that's when India arrived in the series.
The way India bowled on day two of the second Test revealed the true character of this young team. It’s not that they bowled out Australia within fifty overs and secured a first innings lead but their desperation for the cause ensured that Australia didn’t run away with the game. It was the turning point of the series from India’s perspective.
After conceding a slender first innings lead, India dug deep through Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane’s partnership to keep the game alive. Pujara went on to score a double hundred in Ranchi but his innings of 92 in Bangalore was not just his best innings of the series but also, one of the best Test innings of his career.
Jadeja – The Test All-Rounder
For the longest time, Ravindra Jadeja remained Ravichandran Ashwin's understudy and assumed the role of the support cast. His 6 wickets in the first innings of the second Test and again a five-wicket haul in the first innings of Ranchi finally brought him out of Ashwin's shadow.
Taking wickets in the first innings of a Test match requires multiple skills and guile because the pitch isn't as responsive as the pitch during the later days of a Test match.
Accuracy has always been Jadeja’s best friend but in this home season he also acquainted himself to subtle variations of pace and spin.
He has started bowling a lot closer to the stumps and also, a little slower from time to time, which in turn has made him an all-weather bowler. In addition to his bowling, this home season saw him arrive and mature as a Test batsman as well. His innings of 63 in Dharamshala turned the Test and the series in India's favour.
Umesh Express Arrives
It's not often that you see an Indian seamer outpace and outbowl his Australian counterparts but the spell that sealed the deal for India in Dharamshala did just that. Umesh Yadav bowled with a lot of steam on the third day pitch and dismissed both openers before half the lead was wiped out.
There are certain spells in Test matches that leave an indelible mark on one’s memory and his spell in Dharamshala will go down as one of them. Considering that it was the last match of a long home season (Umesh played 12 out of the 13 Tests), it was incredible to see that he had enough fuel left in the tank to bowl a fiery spell.
The Umesh express has arrived at the international stage and once Shami is fit, the duo will form a bowling pair to fear in the future.
Lost Tosses, Lost the Captain But Won the Series
The highlight of this series was the fact that India lost three tosses, Virat Kohli lost his form and then India lost him due to an injury and still the score line read 2-1 in the end. In fact, not just Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair didn't find their groove till the end but that didn't dent India's belief and resolve.
Cheteshwar Pujara, KL Rahul and Wriddhiman Saha stood up on multiple occasions and won crucial moments for the team. The sign of a good team is that it’s not reliant on one or two individuals to perform all the time, for it’s a collection of a plethora of match-winners, and this home season has illustrated that this team has what it takes to remain on the top for a long time.
Now that the trophy is won and the dust is settled, I hope that both the players and the fans remember this series for the exhilarating cricket it produced over the four Test matches. There hasn't been a single Test in the series that didn't provide opportunities to both the sides and in the end, it was only a matter of India seizing a few more opportunities than Australians. In the era of home domination, this series will go a long way to reignite the love for Test cricket.
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