What a Gabba-licious day!
The TLDR: Yesterday, India won the fourth test match against Australia in Brisbane—clinching a 2-1 series win. The victory of a bruised and depleted team came as sweet relief in the midst of pandemic worries. And for addicts of the adrenaline rush of the T20 format, it was a reminder why the five-day test match remains the prince of cricket formats. So here’s a quick victory romp through this sweetest win (with the valuable assistance of splainer subscriber Ravi Kant who sent us tons of great links)
The lead up
The Down Under tour has been a truly rollercoaster ride.
- We lost the first match in Adelaide by a miserable eight wickets—and set a new record for the lowest test innings score for India.
- We redeemed ourselves in Melbourne—despite the absence of captain Virat Kohli who headed home on paternity leave, and Mohammed Shami who fractured his wrist in the first match. But on this outing, we also lost fast bowler Umesh Yadav to a calf injury.
- The Sydney match was a draw but revealed the first signs of the grit and glory to come. But most notably, it gave us a now iconic moment: Aussie captain Tim Paine sledging R Ashwin at the crease, uttering the immortal words: “Can’t wait to get you to the Gabba Ash!”
Also this: The Aussies were already celebrating in advance—and all those quotes came back to haunt them yesterday. Shashi Tharoor’s word of the day: epicaricacy—That feeling of misplaced glee you feel at someone else’s misfortune.
The great Gabba contest
We won the match on the fifth day with three wickets in hand. We could bore you with the details, but it’s far more pleasant to watch a quick rewind of the highlights below (Also watch: The team celebrating the winning moment here):
Point to note: Australia lost a match at the Gabba for the first time in 32 years—the last being a defeat to the Viv Richards-led West Indies team in 1988-89.
The big winners of not just this match but the series were:
Rishabh Pant: His wicket-keeping skills may need work, but Pant was the unquestioned hero of the fifth day—scoring a match-winning 89 (not out). A batsman best known as an impetuous slugger revealed unexpected maturity and confidence—especially in a tour where bigger names threw their wickets away (Looking at you, Rohit Sharma). So it’s only fitting that Pant sealed the victory with this masterful four:
A good Pant read: Indian Express on his duel with offspinner Nathon Lyon.
Mohammed Siraj: The brilliant fast bowler is one the series’ greatest finds. He never would have made it to the test squad if Ishant Sharma had been fit. And he would have never played a game except for Shami’s broken arm. But Siraj heads back home with the highest number of wickets on the Indian side—13 including a five-wicket haul at Brisbane, which was his second test outing! All this despite the racist abuse he suffered in Sydney and Brisbane. A very good read: Cricbuzz on the summer of Siraj.
Washington Sundar: shined bright on Day 3 when he and Shardul Thakur put on a critical 123-run partnership—which laid the foundation for the fifth day win. Who can forget that no-look six! His other great asset: a brilliant name. Jokes include this priceless photo titled simply, ‘Washington Sundar’ lol! Our favourite photo of Sundar is this one with his father:
Best read on Sundar: Indian Express’ profile of wonderkid Washington.
Shardul Thakur: lasted just 10 balls against the West Indies in his first Test in 2018—and seemed destined to be one of the many might-have-beens in sport. But he too got a second chance thanks to the injuries of others. He ended the Gabba test with seven wickets and a stellar 67-run knock in the first innings. Here’s a lovely read on how his coach’s wife played a critical role in his career.
An IPL hat tip: One of the biggest reasons that the rookies were able to make the most of their big chance to shine: They are all “veterans” of the Indian Premier League. As Dilip Vengsarkar told The Telegraph:
“The IPL definitely has its benefits... No question about that. It has helped these players mingle with the best. They’ve learnt from their work ethics and mastered how to approach the game...
The IPL has been a learning process for these youngsters. The confidence they garnered by being in close proximity to the best players has helped them at the highest level.”
The bottomline: The discourse of Indian cricket is built around a handful of big stars—who we worship and revile in turns. But in the absence of these boldface names, this victory felt truly shared, as though each of us owned a piece of it.
- Watch Coach Ravi Shastri talk to his team after the win at Scroll.
- Cricket Monthly charts the stormy history of the Gabba—the widely feared grounds in Brisbane.
- Also: a fun thread on what the world was like when Australia last tasted defeat at the Gabba.
- The Telegraph looks at the rise of Ajinkya Rahane as a very different kind of captain.
- Cricket.com has delicious quotes from a “shocked” Ricky Ponting.
- Best tributes were penned by Adam Gilchrist, Greg Baum and Vinayakk Mohanarangan—the last offering an overview of the entire series.
- Indian Express has the main takeaways from the match and tour.
- The Hindu has what’s next for the team: The England tour which will mark the return of Captain Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma and Hardik Pandya. Not on the list: Prithvi Shaw.