Our boys sing the song Hum Kisise Kam Nahin… as they lift the coveted ‘Border-Gavaskar Trophy’
By V.N. Prasad
Bruised and Battered, Cheteshwar Pujara stood like the ‘Rock of Gibraltar’ between the OZs and the ‘BG Trophy’ at the Gabba; as our young team lifted the coveted Trophy. Chasing 328 on the 5th day at the Gabba and against the pace battery of Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc and Green & the teaser Lyon was not a mean achievement — considering the fact that we were a depleted side.
KUDOs to our young team for breaking the 32-year-old jinx at the Gabba. The journey from ‘36 Adelaide Town’ to ‘Hum Kisise Kam Nahin’ at the Gabba, was full of question marks. Galore of dropped catches, absence of monumental batting knocks (except one century by Rahane), yet lifting the trophy was indeed a “Bollywood like” thriller. OZs were not any far behind. The dictum “Catches Win Matches” was thrown to the winds. Skipper Tim Paine was ‘Painfully’ deficient behind the stumps. Lollypops were floored all-round the parks. Batting lacked the OZ sheen except for a century apiece between Smith and Labuchane. While Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc and Lyon bowled magnificently, our young guns — Siraj, Natarajan, Saini and Washy Sundar — rose tall.
NINE fierce blows on the helmet, fingers, ribcage and shoulder — yet at the focal point of confidence to batsmen around him — Pujara won the hearts of millions in shaping victory at the Gabba. A series Down Under invariably has a few monumental batting knocks, a few hundreds & double hundreds, over 500 totals, some brilliant catches etc. Ironically, there was no Devil in any of the four tracks — Adelaide, MCG, SCG and the Gabba. The feeling of “KABHI KHUSHI KABHI GHAM” haunted us through out the series. But yet, touching the heart with right palm and saying “ALL IZZ WELL” did the magic eventually. The country went delirious as Washy hooked one for a six and drove the next for a four. Indeed, those were points when the 1.3 Billion smelt victory; accompanied by the brilliance of Pant.
Our series victory certainly revolved around two partnerships. First, between H. Vihari and Ashwin at the SCG — largely, thanks to Tim Paine for those missed chances. The next was the resolute and brilliant one between Washy Sundar and Shardul Thakur at the Gabba; very pleasing to the eyes. Let us not make any mistake. But for this partnership of 123 runs in the 1st inning, it would have been extremely difficult to win the Test and the series. So, thanks to the young lads. Washy could well be our ‘all-rounder’ in times forward. He has beautiful flow. Thakur’s knock was no mean. His flowing cover drives and on drives bore the stamp of class. He was very effective with the cherry too. So, his all-round capabilities will add to our strength; for sure. Thanks Vihari, Ashwin, Washy and Thakur & Tim too.
Well, our 23-year-old ‘chirpy’ keeper —monsieur Rishab Pant — is an interesting character. If only he applies his mind, concentrates on his keeping and batting, he could well be an asset for over a decade. His dismissal at 97 at the SCG; not going to the pitch of the ball from Lyon and spooning a catch to Gully left us wondering if we could have won the Test had he stayed on. He has a lot of thinking to do. But his ‘Match Winning Knock’ at the Gabba was brilliant — though there were a few anxious moments. Largely, the credit of victory goes to him. Now, coming to the others,
Skipper Rahane: Your captaincy was good. But, inconsistency in batting is a lot of concern. Barring that beautiful match-winning century at the MCG, other knocks were below par. At Gabba, flashing 4-5 stumps away, you got away with drives through the 3rd slip. Tim brought in Mats Wades to the 3rd Slip and you spooned a catch to him — and at what cost to the team, my friend? Also, your dismissal in the 2nd inning was unconvincing. Kindly look at your past history too sir. The Country needs you.
Mayank: No sir. You cannot rest on your laurels. Your excessive lift of the bat and the gate between your bat & pad need quick corrections. You need to go to the drawing board. Your dismissal at the Gabba — driving one straight to Wade —caused ire. You had the responsibility to put your head down and bat through the inning.
Rohit Sharma: At the SCG, Cummins kicked one to your ear level and you hook straight to the ‘Only Man’ on the rope; Starc. At Gabba, you are well set. When the team looked forward to a big score, you, indiscriminately skied one from Lyon; to Starc. No sir. Not only should you have consolidated your position as an opener but also think of the team. You are capable. But, you need to introspect. 5 day games are not T20/ODIs.
Finally, a word of thanks to James Cook and Co for discovering the lands named Australia. Thanks to the United Kingdom for creating this Commonwealth Country. Having a current population of 2.5 crore — about the population of Mumbai City today — Australia has developed into a beautiful country with extraordinary facilities for the growth of sportsmen. Going by their population, India should soon think of blooding in 3-4 cricketing teams of international competence. And we have the potential.