“The most striking quality common to all primitive art is its intense vitality. It is something made by a people with a direct and immediate response to life.”
– Henry Moore
It rained all day at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday, there was not a ball bowled on the final day, and when the official announcement was made, wild celebrations broke out in the Indian camp. A beaming Indian captain received the coveted Border-Gavaskar trophy from Allan Border, planted a kiss and then handed it to Mayank Agarwal. With the fourth Test cricket match between Australia and India ended Monday in a draw, without a ball being bowled on the fifth day as rains kept players indoors throughout the day, India won its first ever Test series in Australia 2-1. This historic first-ever series win in Australia therefore represents a milestone in Indian Test history. It has come at a time when India in the past could well have been obsessed about getting the World Cup trophy home. But it is down to one man, Virat Kohli, and it has not yet been brought to the forefront. India played their maiden Test series against Australia in 1947 and were handed a 4-0 drubbing in the five-match series. In total, India have toured Australia 12 times (including the current series) and finally manages to lift Test trophy under Kohli’s captaincy. India were dominant in all three departments – batting, bowl and fielding.
If this victory is put into perspective with some of Indian cricket’s famous away-series wins, it will be right up there both in terms of novelty as well as quality. Historically, too, India becomes the first Asian side to win a Test series in Australia. This is a stupendous achievement when one considers that even the champion Pakistan sides of the 1990s with the brilliant Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram in their prime could not achieve the feat. There are plenty of reasons to celebrate the series triumph in Australia. Naysayers may point out to the apparent lack of quality in the Australian batting. But India did not have a hand in Australia banning Steve Smith and David Warner as India’s battling legend Sunil Gavaskar puts it. Kohli was the watch-out batsman in the last year’s England tour, Chiteswar Pujara, defying critics, became highest scorer in the four-match series with 521 runs in 7 innings at an average of 74.42, including three centuries to his name. With a highest-score of 193, Pujara signed off the series with the man-of-the-match and man-of-the-series awards. The unorthodox pacer Jasprit Bumrah, with unconventional action proved that with an impressive show on Australian soil claimed 21 wickets in the series. Rishabh Pant with 350 runs and a sparkling hundred at the SCG with a record number of dismissals in an away series has now established himself as India’s No 1 wicketkeeper in the Test format. While young Prithvi Shaw missed out due to an ankle injury, Mayank Agarwal made most of his chances after an eternal wait for the India cap with two half centuries.
Alongside Ajit Wadekar’s side’s twin triumph in the West Indies and England in 1971, Kapil’s Devils or Rahul Dravid’s sides’ winning the 1986 or 2007 series in England, the members of the current side have now successfully etched their names in record books. India’s fielding, particularly those manning slip cordon, which always comes under criticism, this time played a crucial role in this historic achievement. What separates Kohli’s men from earlier teams is their world class fitness standards. Kudos to Kohli’s ‘Team India’.