-By Amrit Mathur
More than the 2-1 scoreline, the remarkable aspect about India's win is that they bossed Australia around and bludgeoned them into submission. And considering this happened after a spectacular self-goal first Test in Pune, the Indians have reason to raise a massive toast to celebrate.
Make no mistake, this team truly represents a ‘New India’ – one that is confident, talented and boasts of a cricket DNA where being on the backfoot is no more an option.
The Aussies are formidable opponents. They are proud and professional and they play hard. For the Aussies, only winning matters. Everything else is a waste of time. But this series saw a dramatic role reversal, with India trumping the Aussies.
The tests produced riveting cricket, with players pushing the boundaries to get ahead of each other. In this tussle, harsh words were exchanged, allegations and accusations were hurled and (wild) charges were made. This non-stop clash sparked an ugly war. A temporary truce was followed by intermittent sniping.
In this friendly fire (around what essentially was a street scrap),there was collateral damage to the 'spirit' of the game. But these noble values hardly matter to athletes for whom anything short of victory is a tragedy .
The Indian team’s rise to become world number one is not an accident. Instead, it is the result of a carefully crafted strategy and excellent execution. The team raised its game when challenged – a testament to the fact that it is a well coordinated and cohesive group.
In Ranchi and Dharamsala, India was in a spot but the match turned around when the lower middle order stitched together important partnerships.
Kohli’s Indian team is more settled, sorted and successful than teams before it. The core group has excellent work ethic and on the bench sits genuine quality, ready to step in if an opportunity was to present itself. No other team has this problem of riches, where a test triple centurion (Karun Nair) is struggling to get another game.
Prominent among India's standout performers was KL Rahul, who batted with assurance and authority. With batting marked by keen awareness of the match situation, Rahul has an intuitive knack of adjusting gears, going up and down as required.
Pujara is less flamboyant (even dour in comparison), but dependable and difficult to dislodge. He is a player custom-built for test cricket – he is unhurried, supremely serene and happy to occupy the crease for hours.
But it was India's bowling that brought the Aussies down. Umesh Yadav was consistently at the throat of batsmen, bowling with hot pace and hostility as no Indian bowler has done in the past.
Equally remarkable was Jadeja's steady growth this season. Considered, even dismissed, as a fringe player, he came into his own to emerge as a valuable performer. Jadeja is a multi purpose, multi-utility player. He is frustratingly accurate with the left arm spin and is valuable with contributions down the order. He has proved to be a real asset anywhere in the field. Jadeja’s attitude makes him a crowd puller and a showman who loves the stage and the opportunity to perform.
While India can look at many positives from the series, the balance sheet for the Aussies is a splash of red.
They can derive some satisfaction from giving the Indians a fight and not sinking disastrously as England, but a victory in India was something they desperately wanted.
They trained in Dubai on spin friendly pitches,engaged Sriram for technical assistance and simulated match conditions during nets – but none of these elaborate plans worked out. What would be particularly worrying to them is the un-Aussie like conduct during the series. The team surprisingly lost the initiative at crucial times, dropped catches and failed to win key moments in tests.
The prime example of this came at Dharamsala: Australia 130 for 1 at lunch on Day One after winning the toss on a good track, 300 all done in the first innings and then another pathetic crash, all out 137 on Day Three. India bounced back strong after Pune but Australia slumped – like a car tyre slowly losing air after having developed a leak.
Steve Smith was absolutely brilliant. But he was like a brave general who was deserted by his officers - general whose soldiers refused to fight.
With three hundreds in the series (and an astonishing 20 from 54 tests, averaging 60 plus ) Smith is a modern master who has come through this series with an enhanced reputation .
Spare a thought also for two superstars who had a rough time – Virat Kohli and David Warner. Virat was imperious and unstoppable against England, but this time the runs dried up, which shows that cricket can be both uncertain and cruel. Same for Warner, who could hardly put bat to ball and looked vulnerable.