History was created by Indian team as they breached the Australian fortress Gabba after 32 years to win the final Test and Border Gavaskar Trophy for second time in a row. In a series full of challenges for India where they saw a humiliation in Adelaide, captain missing out on 3 Tests, almost half their side injured, India did an unbelievable job just by hanging on to the series till the fourth test let alone winning it and when they won the Test match at Gabba with only 3 overs left, it went nuts.
Rishabh Pant, Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara were the three heroes of the test match win on day 5 but let’s see who were the five heroes of India’s back to back Border Gavaskar Trophy victories in Australia. Although the series win was a result of complete team effort with everyone playing their roles beautifully despite the numerous challenges but there were five special performers worth mentioning in this series.
India’s wicket keeper batsman Rishabh Pant wasn’t just the player of the match in Brisbane but he was also India’s biggest hero of the series win. After missing in the first Test due to Saha’s superior wicket keeping skills, team management felt the urgent need to include him in the playing 11 to add strength to the batting in Virat Kohli’s absence in Melbourne. Pant immediately contributed with an impactful 29 in the first inning there on a tricky pitch.
However, Pant’s moment of glory came in Sydney where he was promoted to bat at 5 in second inning. He played a breathtaking inning on a day 5 pitch scoring 97 runs which kept India interested in a win for long time. Due to this fear created by Pant, Australia were skeptical of a bold declaration in the second inning at Gabba (they got bowled out eventually) which bought India some time as they were looking for a draw early on. But knowing a character like Rishabh Pant, it was pretty certain that as long as he was at the crease, he wasn’t going to play for the draw. Missing out on an opportunity of a test and series win would’ve played on his mind for long had he taken the safe approach. He rather took his natural approach of batting and started blasting Australian bowlers once target was within reach.
It was Pant who hit the winning runs helping India to breach Australia’s fortress at Gabba and win the series 2-1. Pant finished the series as India’s top scorer with 274 runs in 3 Test matches.
Ravichandran Ashwin holds the second position in the top five performers for India this series. Ashwin had often struggled on overseas tours before this one but he used all his experience of previous tours of Australia and bowled beautifully in all the three tests he played. Not only with the ball but with the bat too, Ashwin helped India save a Test match in Sydney with the bat as well.
Ashwin took a total of 12 wickets at an average of 29 and put on a bowling masterclass on wickets not so conducive for spin bowling. Out of those 12 wickets, three were of big scalp Steve Smith whom he kept really quiet till the second test. On the past tours, he was asked to learn from Lyon on how to bowl in Australian conditions but the fact that he outbowled Lyon by quite a margin on this tour speaks volumes of his success in this series.
Just like the previous Border Gavaskar Trophy, Cheteshwar Pujara was a hero of India’s win this time around as well. Pujara though, didn’t have a good start to the tour missing out in Adelaide and Melbourne but he did well enough in the last two test matches to become India’s third best player in this series.
Pujara’s numbers though don’t look any good where he scored 271 runs in 8 innings at an average of 34 but his importance has to be judged by more than just numbers. In both Sydney and Brisbane, Pujara held an end up from his side allowing the other batsmen to play around him. Pant could play like Pant and Gill could play like Gill because they knew they had Pujara at the other end who will be resilient in his batting and won’t give away his wicket. Even though he was heavily criticized for his slow batting in the first inning of Sydney Test, he just showed the way to cricket fans about how slow & steady wins the race.
Gill on his first tour of Australia, in fat in his first Test series in his career showed the world why is he rated so highly among the cricket aficionados. Not just he showed great composure and temperament against Aussie bowlers but his game awareness and aggressive approach put Australia on backfoot whenever he got going in the series, including today when he scored a very fine 91 to give India the head start they needed after losing Rohit.
Gill scored 259 runs in this series in 6 innings with a couple of 50s at an average of 52. For a youngster who was playing his first test series, that too in a country like Australia, it was a performance worth celebrating. At times, he batted like a senior pro in the opening partnerships with Rohit Sharma which showed the matured head he has on top of his. Gill announced his arrival and in some style.
Bumrah was fifth best performer for India even though Mohammed Siraj had an outstanding debut tour as well just like Shubman Gill had. Bumrah missed out in the 4th Test due to injury but in Melbourne, and then in Sydney he did an excellent job being the leader of the attack.
Bumrah and Siraj were neck and neck when it came to numbers in this series. Bumrah picked up 11 wickets in 3 Tests at an average of 29.36 while Siraj picked up 13 wickets in 3 Tests at an average of 29.54 and it is really hard to differentiate between their performances, Bumrah just edged past Siraj because of his control which Siraj lacked on just a few occasions, understandably so for a rookie fast bowler. Bumrah at times, made sure he didn’t allow easy runs from his end creating the pressure and allowing the other bowlers to pick wickets. He was a workhorse in this series.