A Test to Remember

2nd April 2011 and 19th Jan 2021 would be two moments that will certainly be etched forever in the memories of an Indian born in the 90's. These two moments were the ones that brought tears to my eyes and I felt this is what India is all about. The courage, determination, and whatever else you can call it was at its highest level. And mind you there were few if not many similarities between the two wins which are almost a decade apart. A wicket keeper batsman hitting the winning runs on both the occasions and being instrumental in the win, and an opener scoring 90 odd to lead India to a win which is a story to tell for ages.

However, unlike the 2011 world cup where expectations were huge, 2021 was contrasting with some even predicting a clean sweep by the aussies. What eventually turned out will be a historic series win to remember not only for a country but for the whole cricketing world. I mean no one in there wildest of dreams could imagine how the series eventually panned out. A pessimistic fan wouldn't have imagined India getting bowled out on 36 while an optimistic fan wouldn't have imagined a gabba win as well. But, this is what cricket is, it makes you cry, makes you happy, and astonishes you at times. 2021 was a time when the world is still struggling to come out of the sufferings due to COVID and sure, moments like this win cannot give you any financial assistance, but if you are a true fanatic for the game than it certainly gives a new way, a new perspective to see what life has to offer you. I mean I am not trying to be philosophical here but look at the Indian side that won, Siraj had lost his father, Shami got injured in the first test, Virat Kohil - there cricket team hero had parental duties, and the worse India getting out for 36 that too with a squad barring shami was still nearly at its full strength. You don't see darker times than this.

What would have been in your mind if you were in there places? How would you cope up thinking we still have three test matches left and we are not sure how will our bowling reserves perform whenever they are called for? I am sure atleast for a moment they would have thought that they are done and dusted and everything's over. But to leave that moment behind and then win the very second test match proved that they had so much left in them. And mind you things for them kept getting bad day by day as the tour progressed. MCG was a pitch destined for the team batting 1st and 3rd and Australia won the toss and chose to bat. But this was the new India lead by there stand in captain who struck a magnificent century and saw India home in what was a clear shocker for the aussies. After Shami, it was Umesh Yadav who got injured in the 2nd test.

What followed in the next two test matches was phenomenal. The third test saw heroics of a young Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari, and a super smart Ravichandran Ashwin. While rishabh pant on one hand kept increasing the heartbeat of both sides with his extravaganza, on the other hand Hanuma Vihari and Ashwin battled with every passing minute. Vihari ate pain killers, took blows within his body with every shot but he stayed, he stayed for his country and his dream. But it was not all courage, they applied their cricket mindsets, the strategy was to let ashwin face lyon since vihari couldn't bend much and let vihari face the pacers since he was comfortable facing the pace bowlers. And than came the 4th test match, whoa! It still feels unreal, and I still feel goosebumps writing this, chasing 328 on a 5th day gabba pitch, well forget chasing even batting out the overs in front of Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon can be intimidating. But the confidence the team got from the first innings heroics from Shardul and Sundar was unparalleled which was taken forward by the young Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant. And remember they played this test match without Vihari, Ashwin, Jadeja, Bumrah, phew you keep naming them and the list won't get over. Finally, a fairy tale series was won 2-1 by India and they not only retained but proudly owned the Border-Gavaskar trophy!

Looking back at what made this series the most inspiring were the stories that came out of it, the coaching staff started there preparation for the series since July, the story of Natarajan coming in as a net bowler turned and represented India in all the formats within a span of a Month, and he did tremendously well in every chance he got and certainly made a name for himself as a regular international bowler in years to come, the story of Shubman gill who was left out of the first test match and than became one of the heroes in the series, the story of shardul who played only one test match prior and that too got injured and Washington sundar who like Natarajan came as a net bowler and turned himself into a hero for his country, the story of Rishabh Pant who was criticized time and again for his keeping and rash shots shutting everyone's mouth with two career defining knocks, the story of Pujara who was the unsung hero in almost all the 3 test matches, he did what he does best - just batted, batted and batted but this time took the ball on his body and kept his patriotism a level ahead than his pain, the story of Siraj who first lost his father and than was racially abused by the Australian crowd turned up and took a five wicket haul as a 3 test match young leader of a pack of debutant bowlers, and finally Ajinkya Rahane to lead from the front and give everyone the most unexpected result is a story to tell his grandchildren. And I am sure I might be forgetting a few more worth mentioning.

I am sure no sports in the history would have so many ebbs and flows in such a short span of time and that is what Cricket can deliver for you. Long hail the game!!

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