Winning a series in Australia is not just about making history but about shaping the future of the Indian sporting mind
After independence, this was India's first real liberating moment in cricketing history when the tame rain-fed draw of the final Test match at Sydney trudged to an inconclusive end. That meant a 2-1 series win for Kohli-led band of youngsters to a Test series mind you, and not just any short format win after 71 years. Call it historic or epochal, but fact is that any victory on hostile grounds like Perth is a more than major achievement even though many would argue that with the likes of Steve Smith and David Warner out of the squad for tampering misdemeanours, it was not the real Australian side to beat. Spurious argument this as ifs and buts have no legitimacy in the competitive arena. More so, when India’s own team is young, relatively inexperienced and in the midst of finding its own might on foreign shores. No Tendulkars and no Laxmans here as sentinels, if one must point out. Only heroes in the making like the in-and-out-of-squad Rishabh Pant whose handsome 100 was the star performance at Sydney, and Test specialist with a lot of recent woes Cheteshwar Pujara who shone with three scintillating centuries, or for that matter, Jaspreet Bumrah whose 21 wickets in the series were as much a highlight as Kuldeep’s spin to win endeavour. Then there is skipper Virat Kohli leading a transition in progress in a terrain where India stepped in for the first time under Lala Amarnath in 1947 to face and lose 4-0 to none less than Don Bradman and his invincible squad. In comparison, Tim Paine looked fragile and timed out as the Aussie skipper for this series even as Kohli beamed not just as one of world greats but also as a skipper with a ruthless and thinking mind, a good and able successor to MS Dhoni who wove the art of mind gymming so solidly into framework of modern Indian cricket that new frontiers are now only waiting to fall. Kohli’s cap is getting rather crowded with the goodies, what with now him being the only Asian cricketing captain to record four Test victories in a single calendar year in South Africa, England and Australia.
The good thing about this Border-Gavaskar Series was the all-department show of the Indian squad lending a new polish to their cricketing mores.Batting, pace bowling, spin bowling and fielding, all figured in a first among equals intra battle for brilliance. They, together, gave dominance a new meaning and made history which, for Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri, rated higher than their respective World Cup wins. Indeed, what makes this Indian side beating Australia in Australia for the first time a more than historic moment is the possibilities of the future that this win carries in its womb. For a young team, unsure of the most respected and long format of the game, to display ruthlessness, self-belief, courage and the backbone to not wilt under pressure is something that will shape the pedestal Indian cricket will stand on in the coming years. From where Sydney shows you the picture, it looks like the one on which Hima Das, Manika Batra and Mary Kom stood not quite long ago. That gives wholesomeness to Indian sports which can now go to both Tokyo and London with a swagger that has no tradition.