As the rain continued to pitter-patter on the roof of the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Indian cricket team could smell the sweet smell of victory wafting their way.
It was a matter of time. By tea, the news was confirmed. India had won their first Test series away against Australia. This had been long overdue. Australia was like the final frontier which had to be captured in order to reconfirm India’s top rating in the ICC Test cricket rankings.
By achieving this task, India can now proudly say that they are undisputed kings of Test cricket currently.
There are some who may point out that India lost to both South Africa and England in their away series. Others may say that this probably was the weakest Australian team to take the field. Ultimately, such things don’t count. Blame the Aussie selectors for their quirky selections.
The exuberance and attitude of captain Virat Kohli has paid off in a big way. He bristles with emotion – both on and off the field. Importantly he walks the talk.
And being the best batsman in the world allows him to strut like a peacock on the field – head high and in-your-face attitude.
The Aussies tried to rattle him with outrageous statements, making efforts to upset him in numerous ways. But every time they did that, Kohli rose to the occasion magnificently.
Kohli must thank one man for accomplishing his dream. India would not have won if Cheteshwar Pujara hadn’t stayed for long periods in the crease.
Amidst India’s shaky out-of-form openers and suspect middle-order, Pujara anchored himself and absorbed many deliveries to blunt the Aussie bowlers.
With three centuries in the four-Test encounter, Pujara was the undoubted Man-of-the-Series. It is hoped that the selectors finally realise the value of a player like Pujara and keep him in the side regularly.
Another big aspect of India’s win Down Under was the fast bowling trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma.
In his short career, Bumrah has already established himself as India’s premier fast bowler and leader of the pack. His awkward action and superb control has won him a lot of wickets. He was Kohli’s go-to bowler when wickets were required and he never disappointed as such.
Both Shami and Sharma gave him good support which meant that India could now boast of a good opening attack.
Among the spinners, Ravichandran Ashwin started well but injury cut short his tour. But Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav rose to the occasion in his absence and did exceedingly well.
India have finally found a wicketkeeper in the Adam Gilchrist mould. Rishabh Pant can look back on the tour with great satisfaction. He kept well and batted well, getting a big hundred in the last Test.
He must be persisted with in all forms of the game as he is a rare talent. His wicketkeeping will also get better as time goes by.
Amidst the euphoria, there is still some work to be done. The opening slot has to be sorted out and the middle-order is still problematic.
Both Murali Vijay and K L Rahul were major disappointments. Vijay may find it difficult to make a comeback again due to age constraints but Rahul’s promising career seems to be at the edge of despair.
He gets out in the same fashion every time and the remedy doesn’t seem forthcoming. He has age on his side and he must work on his game by taking time out.
Though Hanuma Vihari is still new and Rohit Sharma not secure, India may end up with a headache. With Hardik Pandya fit and Pant improving by the day, India can include an extra bowler who can bat to cover the problem.
India can now look ahead to the year with great optimism. They have made an emphatic start and they must not sacrifice it at the altar of overconfidence, lack of focus and selection muddles.