A momentous win for Team India in Australia
India’s 2-1 series win against Australia in Australia is momentous in all sorts of ways. It is our first series win in Australia. It came despite the team’s best batsman and captain, Virat Kohli, being only the third highest run scorer (behind the superlative Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant), showing how India were not solely reliant on Mr Kohli for big totals. It was due in large part to the sustained fire and venom of India’s fast bowlers, with Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma picking up 48 wickets between them. This is India’s best pace attack ever. Never before has an Indian fast bowling unit, outside the subcontinent, outshone the pace attack of a home side. It was, after the disappointments of series losses in South Africa and England in 2018, much needed redemption.
This was an enfeebled Australia side. Without Steven Smith and David Warner, both suspended for ball tampering, the batting lacked depth, experience and quality. The captain, Tim Paine, drafted in because of Mr Smith’s suspension, was unproven as a leader. And the game itself, with introspection about the manner in which Australia has played it for decades, was in crisis. But none of that is India’s fault. One can only play the opposition one is handed; and a weak one was what India was up against. If India was to beat Australia in Australia, never would it find a better opportunity. India took its chance. Unlike in South Africa and England (that, too, was one of the weakest England sides in recent memory), India did not squander the big moments. It bent the narrative of the game to its will. It showed purpose, resolve, quality and mental strength to pull off this historic series win. The current Australia side has one of the best attacks in the game at the moment. Not only did India outbowl the Australians; the batsmen — again, unlike in England — ground that attack into the dust. India’s first innings score of 622 for 7 in the fourth Test in Sydney effectively sealed the series win. From then on, one of two outcomes was ever possible in the match: a draw; or another India victory.
Mr Kohli spoke about how this win will give his India side a new identity. This is perhaps the moment, after repeated frustrations in 2018, that this India side has come into its own. This is the foundation on which future success can be built. The narrative arc that India travels now will show whether this side deserves a place in the canon of great India Test teams.