By Venkatesh Raghavan
Within a span of two years and odd, the Indian cricket team managed to score a second Test series win over Australia on their soil despite odds being stacked against them owing to injuries and the absence of aggressive skipper cum batting legend Virat Kohli. The margin was identical as the Indian team beat the Aussies by 2-1 for the second time and it talks about back-to-back series wins against their might on their home soil.
The Test at Brisbane was a historic one on two counts. Firstly, since 1988 when the West Indies team captained by Sir Viv Richards won a Test match at Brisbane, the Aussies remained undefeated at this venue. The venue was regarded as the Aussie bastion just like Baramati in Maharashtra is regarded as Sharad Pawar’s bastion. Secondly, this was the highest successful run chase that took place at Brisbane since 1951 when the Aussies scored 236 against the touring West Indies side. India who crossed the finish line scoring 328, won by a slender margin of three wickets. However, the victory did serve as a high morale booster for the team especially after their being unceremoniously bundled out for 36 in their second innings of the first Test at the Adelaide Oval.
Three decades and odd back it was quite an unthinkable thing to happen as it was known in cricketing circles that India lost to a B-team of Australia captained by Bobby Simpson when playing on Aussie soil. With the exception of Sunny Gavaskar managing a drawn series with a surprise win in the final Test in the early eighties, Indian sides touring Australia rarely had the comfort level to dominate the series. India’s interim skipper Ajinkya Rahane was jubilant and said the young side had put up a brave front and done well to merit this series win. Even with the loss of wickets, there were no signs of the Indian batsmen trying to settle for a draw. They stayed attacking and played for a win.
This was in sharp contrast with what happened when the touring Indian side captained by MS Dhoni played for a draw in the final Test match against the West Indies before they landed in England to be handed out a white wash soon after their euphoric World Cup victory in 2011. Besides, when the Australians toured India for a three-test series, India managed to win by the skin of their teeth and the Aussies looked to be a much determined and stronger opponent to the formidable Indian eleven on their home soil as compared to England and New Zealand.
Having created history at Brisbane or Gabba as the wicket is called, the Indian side that managed to hold Australia to a draw in the previous match, has pulled off a hattrick of Test series wins against Australia. Contrastingly, in the Test series India had in 2015 before the World Cup was a big disaster and the team morale was at an all time low. The Indian team however, managed to come out of the shadows with a series of wins in the league matches they played in the 2015 World Cup before they fell prey to a strong Australian batting line up that pulverized their chances at the semi-final stage of the tournament.
It is now being seen as a progressive improvement the Indian cricket team has been able to achieve under successive captains. While under Sourav Ganguly, we did enter into winning ways, it was MS Dhoni’s arrival that marked Indian victories in the T-20 and ODI format of the World Cup besides a string of Test series victories on home soil. India’s performance on foreign soil was still a matter of concern, be it Australia or England or South Africa. However, the scripting of back-to-back wins on Aussie soil has led to a strong resurgence of the team image on overseas wickets that are pace and seam friendly.