Sydney:Indian cricket got its new seminal moment after talismanic Virat Kohli led the country to a maiden series victory on Australian soil, ending a 71-year wait to script a golden chapter in the game’s history.
The fourth and final Test match at the SCG petered to a barren draw due to inclement weather but not before providing India with a 2-1 series win and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
It is a rare first Down Under for India since Lala Amarnath’s side visited the country back in 1947-48 months after independence to face Sir Don Bradman’s ‘Invincibles’.
“First, I want to say I’ve never been more proud of being part of a team, than this one right here. The culture we’ve built…our transition began right here, where I took over as captain, and I can’t believe that after four years we’ve won here. Just one word to say, ‘proud’, to lead this team and it’s an honour and privilege. The boys make the captain look good,” an elated skipper Virat Kohli said after the mission was accomplished.
Things turned out to be a bit of anti-climactic in the end as India had a fair chance of adding insult to the injury with a 3-1 victory margin as they got the home team to follow-on in their den for the first time in 30 years after scoring 622 in their only innings.
it was a ‘freeze the frame’ as the Indian team took a ‘Lap of Honour’ of the SCG with the both Indian and Australian fans cheering them.
“This is history and a terrific moment for Indian cricket,” said the country’s greatest opener Sunil Gavaskar.
Such was the fragility of the Australian batting, a full day’s play possibly could have been enough to win a record three Test matches in a single series in Australia had the heavens not opened up. While Australian batting was severely handicapped due to the suspensions of their premier batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner but it can take nothing away from the heady achievement of Kohli’s men, who have conquered an unchartered frontier with a lion-hearted display.
If this victory is put into perspective with some of Indian cricket’s famous away-series wins, it will be right up there both in terms of novelty as well as quality.
Alongside Ajit Wadekar’s side’s twin triumph in the West Indies and England in 1971, Kapil’s Devils or Rahul Dravid’s sides’ winning the 1986 or 2007 series in England, the members of the current side have now successfully etched their names in record books.
Skipper Kohli, who has always focused on the endeavour to make his team the best travelling side, has been finally able to walk the talk after the disappointments in South Africa and England where poor batting let the team down during some of the defining sessions.
In Australia, however, it was a near flawless team effort from India, especially the bowling unit which has set it up for its batsmen for the better part of last year.
While skipper Kohli hit the best hundred of the series in terms of sheer class on a difficult Perth stadium track, the unflappable Cheteshwar Pujara (521) and the unconventional Jasprit Bumrah (21 wickets) were the heroes of the memorable ‘first’.
With their full focus on how to decode Kohli’s genius, the Australian team led by an out-of-depth Tim Paine realised late that Pujara had struck from the ‘blind side’ with his near perfect defensive technique and three hundreds.