Dubai: The largest circulated English daily in India salutes them as the ‘Wizards of Oz.’ Sunil Gavaskar, the original Little Master of Indian cricket, admitted that he had tears in his eyes as he watched Virat Kohli lift the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Sydney on Monday morning while a few healthy debates had been raging since India became the first team from Asia to win a Test series in cricket’s so called toughest frontier.
In a moment high on emotions, the Indian head coach Ravi Shastri stoked the first fire of controversy when he said the Test series triumph could even rate “bigger” for him than the 1983 World Cup triumph as it came in the purest and toughest format of the game. If it was not enough to set the social media on fire, King Kohli’s consistency provided new ammunition to the argument if he is better than Sachin Tendulkar — the God of cricket.
The feeling of finally managing to win a series Down Under after a wait of seven decades — and several generations of cricketing greats — seems to be sinking in slowly but surely. The ifs and buts will continue but so emphatic was Team India’s performance in the series, when they fought back the demons of so-year-yet-so-far again after the defeat in the second Test at Perth that phrases like ‘poor travellers’ about them seem to be a thing of the past now.
In his column with Gulf News, V.V.S. Laxman, the man whose exploits against Australia always stood out in his illustrious career, aptly summed it up: “It was my dream to be part of a winning side in Australia. I am delighted that I can live my dream through the wonderful exploits of this team.”
Ian Chappell, former Australian captain whose team embodied the spirit of the big, bad Aussie way of cricket, had predicted that India would “apply a stranglehold to the No. 1 ranking.”
The debate of Kohli over Tendulkar was stoked — by a strange coincidence — with the timing of the telecast of ‘Koffee with Karan’ show on TV where two of the Young Turks of Kohli era — Lokesh Rahul and Hardik Pandya — had cast their votes in favour of their captain as the greater batsman. The pair were blasted for being “pathetic” and “cringeworthy” by Twitter users in a mass tirade.
While Tendulkar has maintained a godlike status in the Indian public’s eye since his retirement in 2013, he never managed to guide India to a Test series win in Australia.
Kohli, 30, was born a year before Tendulkar made his India debut in 1989. He has been the run machine of modern cricket with more 19,000 runs in Tests, one-day and T20 games. Last year, he became the fastest to reach 10,000 runs in 50-over internationals — beating Tendulkar’s record.
Meanwhile, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) congratulated the team for the Test series win in Australia and reaffirming their No. 1 position in the ICC Test rankings with the announcement of cash incentives. All Test team members will be richer by Rs1.5 million per match for Playing XI and Rs750,000 per match for the reserve players. The coaches, meanwhile, will receive Rs2.5 million each.