India’s series-clinching victory over Australia at the Gabba is one of their “greatest wins ever”, according to former batsman Mohammad Kaif.
Injury-hit India chased 328, a Brisbane record, to hand Australia a first Test defeat at the Gabba since 1988 and win one of the all-time great series 2-1.
This came after they were bowled out for 36 in losing the first Test.
“The way they came back after defeat in Adelaide is just remarkable. There are too many heroes to name,” said Kaif.
Speaking to BBC India, Kaif, who played 13 Tests and 125 one-day internationals, added: “It’s one of our greatest wins ever.
“It was truly remarkable. A total team performance.”
India’s captain and talisman Virat Kohli left the series after the first Test to be at the birth of his first child.
In addition, their injury list steadily grew to include a host of fast bowlers and first-choice spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
In the fourth and final Test, India’s bowling attack included debutants T Natarajan and Washington Sundar, while Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj and Navdeep Saini had only four previous caps between them.
“India’s inexperienced bowling unit showed so much character,” said Kaif. “They had just over 10 wickets between them, compared to Australian bowling unit’s collective haul of more than 1,000 Test wickets.”
Young batsmen Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant starred on the final day of the series decider, making 91 and 89 not out respectively, with Kaif pointing to the Indian Premier League as an important factor in the development of inexperienced players.
“The IPL plays a crucial part. Players are able to learn the art of handling pressure well,” said Kaif. “The win shows how strong India’s bench strength is at the moment.”
In Kohli’s absence, India were captained by Ajinkya Rahane, who led from the front after the humiliating eight-wicket defeat in the first Test by making a century in the second Test in Melbourne, which India won by eight wickets.
“It really means a lot to us,” said Rahane. “I don’t know how to describe this victory. I’m just proud of all the boys, each and every individual.
“We just wanted to give our best, not to think about the result.”
Pant began the series out of the side, but after being recalled for the second Test, made 97 in the third and marshalled the final-day run-chase before hitting the winning runs.
“This is one of the biggest moments of my life now,” said the 23-year-old.
“It’s been a dream series. The team management always backs me and tells me, you are a match-winner and you have to go win the match for the team.”
In contrast, Tim Paine was left to insist that he still the right man to lead Australia, despite being the skipper that surrendered their proud record in Brisbane.
Though Paine has averaged more than 40 with the bat across the series, his wicketkeeping has been error-strewn and he had to apologise for his sledging of the Indian batsmen on the final day of the drawn third Test in Sydney.
“I said a few times I have improvement in me, I still feel like I want to get better and I certainly want to keep leading this team,” said the 36-year-old.
“I’m loving the job. I’m going to cop heaps of flak I know that.
“I’ve been absolutely belted by the Indians, but that’s par for the course for this job.”
|Virat Kohli (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubman Gill, Mayank Agarwal, Rishabh Pant, Wriddhiman Saha, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur.|
‘This should be written into Indian school texts’ – analysis
by Soutik Biswas, BBC News, Delhi
This winter, millions of Indian cricket fans have been faithfully waking up to morning alarms before the crack of dawn to watch their team play a rollercoaster series in Australia.
They were rewarded with what is arguably the greatest Test cricket win in India’s history.
The Brisbane win is greater than 1976 when India chased down a staggering fourth-innings target of 403 set by Clive Lloyd’s West Indies at Port of Spain, Trinidad, and set a world record.
It is greater than the epic Eden Gardens Test against Australia in 2001, when India won by 171 runs after being forced to follow on, only the third time it has happened since Test cricket’s inception 144 years ago.
This is different because a bruised, battered and demoralised India – having lost half of its team to injuries and its star captain-batsman back home, and having been bundled out for their lowest score in Test history two games ago – came from behind in what has to be one of the greatest comebacks in cricket history.
It is a rousing tale of redemption, resurrection and restoration of honour with few parallels.
Many say this win should now become recorded in Indian school texts as an example of India’s resilience against the world’s toughest opponents.