The recently concluded Border-Gavaskar Trophy saw India posting one of the most dominant performances in their glittering antiquity of Test cricket.
Not only was it a bumpy ride for the visitors, but the way they bounced back from being bundled out for 36 was one of the grittiest comebacks that the Indians have shown in recent times.
To make matters more challenging for the Indians, the list of injuries started mounting since the very first Test at Adelaide and by the time they hobbled their way to Brisbane, the team had devolved into a third-string set with most of the players either back home or being sidelined with some injury or the other.
However, despite all the odds stacked up against them, the Indians pulled off a phenomenal faring against one of the most dominant forces in the world in the longest version of the game. We will be looking at snippets of the five best batting performances from the Indians in the tournament.
1. Ajinkya Rahane – 112 at Melbourne, first innings
Just as the Indian batters were struggling at the other end with the Australian pace triptych running amok, Ajinkya Rahane took a stand at the other. He wasn’t really the dominating type, but he had the patience and the temperament to hang in there and punish the loose deliveries.
He walked into bat as Shubman Gill was removed by Cummins and India was tottering at 61 for 2. Even before Rahane could get his eyes set, Pujara nicked a drifting delivery outside off to Tim Paine, thereby widening India’s chasm with Australia’s first innings score.
With Hanuma Vihari at the other end, Rahane started with the initial overhaul, stabilizing the ship in the middle of restless waters. Despite being peppered with countless sweet chin music and shorter deliveries that could possibly have been denominated as rib-crushers, he managed to trade them away for singles or couples, not really intrigued by the prospect of hammering them.
Just as the partnership crossed the threshold of fifty, Vihari holed out to Smith, which gave another massive jolt to the Indians. Luckily for Rahane, Rishabh Pant played an extremely crucial knock of 29 runs, which paved the way for Rahane to bat for a long time in order to get himself in a better position.
By the time Pant was removed, the Indian skipper was well-established in the middle, and his ensuing partnership with Ravindra Jadeja drained the match completely off its colours for Australia. Rahane was finally dismissed for a brazen 112 when Labuschange effected an excellent piece of fieldwork and the skipper found himself short of the crease. In his sublime knock of 112, he managed to smash 12 boundaries.
2. Rishabh Pant – 97 at Sydney, second innings
Until Pant batted in this innings, the game never looked like going India’s way for a while. Despite a decent start from Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, India was left reeling with the departure of the opening duo and Ajinkya Rahane in quick succession, Australia seemed to be totally in control of the proceedings. With Pujara at one end, Rishabh Pant absolutely new at the other, India was to stage a strong partnership in order to save the game.
Despite a wary approach from Pujara, Pant went all guns blazing as he started smoking the Australian bowlers into every nook and cranny of the world. It was an absolute delight to witness the Indian wicket-keeper, relentlessly clubbing the Australians with a boatload of pressure on his head, and yet his fluidity in stroke-playing was delightful.
Just as the Indians were expecting the southpaw to complete his century, Nathan Lyon got the better of him as Cummins pouched a simple take. From 118 balls, Pant amassed 97 runs that saw him thrashing 12 fours and 3 sixes.
3. Cheteshwar Pujara – 77 at Sydney, second innings
Despite this innings being an underrated one with Pujara batting his heart out, it was of emphatic importance as Mr. Dependable eked out the innings for a considerable amount of time.
He walked out in the middle with Shubman Gill being the first one to return to the pavilion. He placed his innings very comfortably with a few clinical strikes. He was also evident in slowing down the innings that helped India get in sync against the fabric of the second innings at Sydney.
He played alongside Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, and Hanuma Vihari before finally being knocked over by a Hazlewood scorcher.
Before he took a long walk back to the pavilion, he managed to score a brilliant 77 from 205 balls, an innings that had resilience penned all over it.
4. Shubman Gill – 91 at Brisbane, second innings
Though this innings lost its charm in all the glitter and glam of India’s rippling triumph at the Gabba, it was an exciting knock that saw India getting the much-desired start after the quick fall of Rohit Sharma.
This inning was also special because of various other reasons. Gill dealt with the new ball at the start of the day that swung devastatingly in both ways against him. Also, the cracks were woefully accentuated making the surface an arena of death-crawl for the batters.
The youngster showed a lot of grit and the way he dispatched the formidable bowling attack of Australia was a treat for the eyes. What was even better for this strapping young lad was his gusto with which he carved those cricketing strokes laced with clinical precision.
After a brazen inning of 91 runs that saw him smacking 8 fours and 2 sixes, he finally got out to a brilliant delivery from Lyon that caught him flat-footed. Nevertheless, on his very first Test series in Australia was nothing short of a wonderful outing that could be the perfect answer to India’s opening conundrum for quite a while now.
5. Rishabh Pant – 89* at Brisbane, second innings
This knock was definitely the contender of the most valuable innings from an Indian throughout the series as Pant braved every single lemon that the Australians threw at him on the final day at Gabba.
He walked out to bat after the departure of Rahane and started batting his heart out, taking the fight right to the Australians. The fact that he remained undaunted by the mounting pressure and odds was what made this innings even special.
Towards the end, this knock turned into a gilt-edged innings from the southpaw that saw him braving the odds to continue with the innings. At one end, wickets fell like a house of cards while at the other, Pant smacked boundaries like hailstones in a hailstorm.
He stayed unbeaten for 89 from 138 balls, smacking 9 fours and a six that saw India cracking the Gabba code as history stayed witness to the hosts falling apart at their fortress.
Out of those 9 fours, the last one of them was drilled through the covers as India erupted into frenzied celebrations, trouncing mighty Australia in their home.