Over the glittering years of Indian cricketing antiquity, India has had several triumphs over various opponents and has also suffered terrible losses in the most unexpected fashions.
Talking about the glorious moments of Indian cricket, a cricket fan would definitely highlight the 1971 England series win, the 1951/52 opening victory in Test cricket against England, the 1983 Cricket World Cup triumph, the 2003 World Cup final appearance, the 2007 T20 World Cup triumph, the 2011 World Cup joys and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy victory as the few brightest moments of Indian cricketing history.
However, the recent exploits of the Indian cricket team have made many cricket fans mull over the fact that is this the best Indian team in the making? One can argue against this as the first and foremost opinion that comes into the debate is nothing but the lack of silverware.
It is true that Kohli and company have failed to rack up any ICC event despite coming within inches of almost all the tournament finals. Au contraire, another belief has reigned supreme in any form of contest and that is laurels and silverware aren’t the ultimate forms of glory that one can achieve.
This Indian cricket team has shown courage, determination and most importantly the hunger to win. It is extremely imperative that this hunger dwells in the heart of every single player. It is this hunger that hardwires a team with the intent to win.
In this story, we would like to focus on three recent achievements that can go a proverbial mile to establish the fact that this Indian cricket team is one of the best teams in the making.
#1 Conquering Australia Down Under in 2019-20
India set the tunes of domination in the preceding T20 series against Australia as they drew the fray 1-1. India could have very well emerged as the victors if not for the rain in the first two matches. However, as the Test series began, India was altogether a different force to be reckoned with.
At Adelaide Oval, India had a batting collapse in the first innings of the Test match as Cheteshwar Pujara proved to be the solitary shaft of hope for India with a blistering 123 before being run out by Pat Cummins in the dying embers of the opening day. Much to the surprise of the hosts, the Indian bowlers ran riot as Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin plundered six wickets between them to restrict Australia to 235.
India’s second innings wasn’t terrific either but this time the collective efforts of Rahul, Kohli, Rahane and Pujara sailed India to 307 to set a respectable target of 322 in the final innings. Nathan Lyon proved to be India’s bane as he claimed six wickets to raze through the Indian batting order. The entire Indian bowling line-up came ablaze against Australia as Jasprit Bumrah, Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Shami shared nine wickets between them to restrict Australia to 291, claiming a historic victory by 31 runs.
Sadly, India’s joys were transient as Australia turned the tide around in Perth with a superior bowling showdown in the final innings of the match. Despite Kohli’s rollicking century in the first innings, Lyon claimed 8 wickets throughout the match to restore parity for the hosts.
It was the third Test that left the world in awe of the rising Indian talents as it heralded something massive coming India’s way. Melbourne witnessed Pujara hammering another blistering century and was aptly supported by the Indian skipper who fired a brilliant 82. Bumrah ravaged the Australian side with an extraordinary spell that saw him claiming six wickets to raze Australia down to 151.
India’s second innings was an absolute disaster as they were left wobbling at 106 for 8 before they declared. The overwhelming lead of the first half helped India to post a target of 399. Bumrah and Jadeja wreaked havoc again as the duo claimed six wickets to leave Australia bundled out for 261.
The last Test of the series ended in an impasse as Pujara hammered a mind-bending 193 and Pant accompanied him with an excellent 159. This was also the last Test match played by Kuldeep Yadav who claimed a fiver to bundle Australia out for 300. However, India fell short of time to bundle out the Australians as the series ended 2-1 in India’s favour.
To make matters worse, India claimed the following ODI series by winning the last two matches to turn around a deficit that was sparked in the opening game of the series.
#2 Conquering Australia Down Under part 2 in 2020-21
As India and Australia stuttered to a bubble-bound year of desolate cricket stands, both teams wanted to award their fans with a brand of captivating cricket for their interminable patience in the darkest of times.
The first two ODI’s went in Australia’s favour with Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul providing hopes to the Indian side. The last ODI swung India’s way as Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Virat Kohli came together to stitch a decent knock. Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah and Natarajan belted out a masterclass to keep Australia restrained to 289 in response to India’s 302.
India turned things around wonderfully in the T20 series with KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja hammered a blitzkrieg with the willow while Chahar and Natarajan left Australia adrift by 11 runs. Hardik Pandya once again came to the fore as India won the second T20 in style. It was late dramatics from Kohli and Pandya that helped India seal the series. Fast bowler, Natarajan proved to be the star of the show as he claimed 2 for 20 from his spell of 4 overs.
Australia won the last T20 in a closely contested encounter with Mitchell Swepson claiming three wickets at the expense of 23 runs. This is when the main dance of the series began.
As the tumultuous Test series started, India was left with a sweeping agony of humiliation with their batting order collapsing for a paltry 36. The defeat hurt less than the score. Criticizers poured in from all over the world to question India’s team selection.
It was just a matter of time since India turned the wheel around. In the second Test at Melbourne India gave a befitting reply as Bumrah and Ashwin ran amok through the Australian innings, plundering 7 wickets between themselves.
Rahane and Jadeja played incredible knocks to defy the Australian bowling unit with a century and a half-century respectively. Young Mohammed Siraj posted a rollicking showdown as he claimed three wickets to leave Australia reeling for 200.
India managed to score the required 70 runs without much hassle despite an early scare, losing Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara early, kicking in the déjà vu of the first Test match.
A heroic showdown from an injured Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari on the last day of the Test match that continued for a spartan 50 overs helped India to save the series until the decider at Brisbane.
By the end of the third Test match, India was reduced to the exact number of players that are needed to play a Test match. They were down to their second-string as they lost Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, Ravichandran Ashwin to injuries and Kohli was on a leave. Australia was cruising on the ship of psychological advantage.
However, that was just a blessing in disguise. Despite an early collapse in batting, India flipped the tide around in stunning fashion as two of the most unexpected superstars, Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur batted their hearts out to stun the Australians.
Mohammed Siraj responded to Hazlewood’s erstwhile fifer with an even more exhilarating version of his own. He claimed five wickets in the second innings of Australia, bundling them out for 294.
Shubman Gill belted out an impeccable 91to set the tone for India’s remarkable pursuit which was given the finishing touch by Rishabh Pant. He struck the telling blow by driving Josh Hazlewood through the long-off boundary, sending ripples through the glittering antiquity of Indian cricket. It was after 32 years that India finally managed to violate Australia’s most sacred fortress, Gabba as they were never defeated there in Test cricket.
#3 India raging like an unstoppable bull against England
India very well could have sealed the deal by now had rain not played spoilsport on the final day of the first Test match. They just needed 157 runs with nine wickets in hand. Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul played ecstatic knocks to help India reach 52 for 1 before the game was declared abandoned on the final day of the play. Bumrah claimed nine wickets throughout the match to leave England contorting in pain.
It was at Lord’s that India displayed their true colours of brilliance. Sharma and KL Rahul demolished the English bowling in the first innings despite a stellar showdown from James Anderson. Joe Root hammered an impeccable 180 to propel England to a formidable 391.
India was in the middle of hot waters that could have easily derailed their dreams but a magical partnership by Mohammad Shami and Jasprit Bumrah helped India secure the much-needed lead to put England under pressure.
Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah laid the foundation of this historic victory as India surged ahead in the Test series, registering a victory at the holy Lord’s after a staggering seven years.
This triumph, however, was followed by another batting collapse as England bundled out India for a paltry 78. Indian bowlers could hardly scratch the surface in the first innings of the Test match. Despite initial resistance from Pujara and Sharma, India was faced with another late batting collapse in a span of just two days to leave them with an agonizing innings defeat.
As mentioned earlier in this story, India’s hunger for victories is what has been driving them insanely. The recently concluded Oval Test was just another searing example of India’s hunger.
After being reduced to 117 for 6, Shardul Thakur blazed an impeccable half-century to become the fastest half-centurion in England, bettering the record of Ian Botham. Indian bowlers were equally up to the task as they didn’t allow England to walk away with a bigger lead.
Rohit Sharma and Pujara set the early tones while Pant and Shardul Thakur battled hard to help India reach a staggering 466. Despite a fiery start from England, Indian bowlers were spread all over the English batting line-up and what started as a glimmer of hope for Shardul Thakur was capped off with glitz and glam by Umesh Yadav, underlining the burning fact that THIS IS INDEED THE BEST INDIAN TEAM IN THE MAKING. This was also a victory that came after an endless 50 years of India’s first Test series win on England soil which also proved to be India’s first Test series win in England.