Dubai: Team India scripted a historic chapter in the annals of Indian cricket by recording their first ever series win in Australia on Monday. It was the culmination of a 70-year wait to conquer the Australians Down Under.
Though rain washed away the final day’s action in the fourth and final Test of the series, India — who led the series 2-1 before — stamped their supremacy over Australia by inflicting a follow-on the hosts. The last Test ended in a draw, depriving the visitors a chance to wrap up the series by a bigger margin.
A proud Virat Kohli, who led from the front, went on to remark: “This is my biggest achievement. It’s at the top of the pile. When we won the 2011 World Cup, I was the youngest member of the side. Saw everyone emotional there, but I didn’t feel it. Here, after coming three times, this win means something else. The series win will give us a different identity, and what we’ve been able to achieve ... something to be proud of.”
So convincing was India’s all-round show that even Australian skipper Tim Paine had to admit: “Have to tip our hat to India, we know how tough it is to win in India so congrats to Virat and Ravi (Shastri) because it’s a huge achievement. Disappointed, definitely over the last two Tests … We had our chances in Adelaide, in Perth I thought we played some good cricket, but in Melbourne and Sydney, we’ve been outplayed.”
The prime architect of the historic triumph was Cheteshwar Pujara, who hit three centuries and piled up 521 runs at an average of 74 to win the Man of the Series award. Pujara, who regained his form after a poor series in England, said: “For me, it’s all about preparation and I was very well prepared. This is the best Indian side I have been part of. And I would also like to congratulate all our bowlers.”
It was not only Pujara’s batting exploits but also the bowling unit, brilliantly shaped by bowling coach B. Arun, that ensured the victory. Though Jasprit Bumrah stood out among the bowlers creating fear among Australian batsmen on their own turf, India spinners too chipped in. Kohli, refusing to single out any one player, said: “If your fast bowlers are happy and fighting as a team, you can win anywhere in the world and you have a chance to beat any side in the world anywhere. In the past 12 months, I would rate their contribution as far above all the batsmen that have contributed this season.”
Kohli revealed that the importance of everyone in the team loving Test cricket have played a role in the triumph. “To be passionate for Test cricket firstly. When Indian cricket respects Test cricket we know the fans are going to come in and watch Test cricket. In a world where a lot of people want the easy stuff, matches that finish in the evening, I think it is important to spread that message of Test cricket. We definitely want to build on this and always promote the message of Test cricket being the most important and the most valued format of the game, which it rightfully is,” said Kohli, who is confident of his team achieving more glory and is hoping that it can inspire many youngsters.
“I see this series as a stepping stone for this team to inspire the next lot of Test cricketers. We want to do the best for Indian cricket, and this is outstanding, but it’s just a stepping stone,” said Kohli.