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Australia vs India: This is one of the biggest days in my life, says Rishabh Pant post the Gabba Test win

It took 33 years for any touring team to beat Australia in their fortress – The Gabba in the longest format of the game. And what a way to bring down curtains to a nerve-wracking feud and a series involving two-Test giants – India and Australia. It was a complete team effort that witnessed the Ajinkya Rahane-led side lift the trophy in the final Test in Brisbane, by chasing a 328-run target, which is now India’s third-highest successful run-chase in red-ball cricket.

The journey has been no short of a rollercoaster ride for not just the Indian cricketers, right from the start of the series – the forgettable defeat in the opening match at Adelaide Oval, the comeback in the Boxing Day Test at MCG to level the series 1-1, then the fightback in the third Test at SCG to keep the series alive at 1-1 and finally, lifting the much-coveted Border-Gavaskar Trophy against a side that has some of the best batsmen and bowlers in the longest format of the game.

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It ain’t just the victory for the player, but also for the fans of the Indian cricket team, who had been rooting for this side to script yet another series win on the Australian soil right from the announcement of the Test squads in October 2020.

Not to forget, India didn’t just win the Border-Gavaskar series by 2-1 but registered yet another historic feat of beating Australia in two successive tours down under, earlier in 2018-19 and now, in the concluded tour of 2020-21.

Being put to bowl first, India had conceded 369 runs in the first innings, with pacers T Natarajan and Shardul Thakur, and all-rounder Washington Sundar scalped three wickets each. In reply, India posted 336 runs that witnessed Shardul and Washington stitching a mammoth 123-run partnership and scoring 62 and 67 respectively.

With a lead of 33 runs, the visitors stepped into the second innings but were bundled out for 294, courtesy of the five-wicket haul from pacer Mohammed Siraj and a four-wicket haul from Shardul, providing a 328-run target for Rahane & Co.

Shubman Gill scored a counter-attacking 91 comprising 8 fours and 2 sixes to set the winning foundation alongside Cheteshwar Pujara, who played a gritty knock of 56 in 211 deliveries to keep the wickets from an end at the same time, ensure India’s chances in the chase.

Contributions from skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Mayank Agarwal, Rohit Sharma, Shardul Thakur, too played a role considering the equation had come down to less than run a ball in the latter stages. A quick innings from Washington Sundar (22, 29b) and finally a matured knock from Rishabh Pant (89*) sealed the triumph for the visitors in the final Test in Brisbane.

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The team management always backs me: Rishabh Pant

Speaking in the post-match presentation, Rishabh Pant said how the Indian team management had been backing him throughout the series. He added that the Gabba Test victory and the knock he played in the successful run-chase make it one of his memorable moments in his life.

“This is one of my biggest days in life. The support the team has given me even when I was not playing has been incredible. It is a dream come true,” said Rishabh Pant, who was awarded the Man of the Match for his heroics at the Gabba.

Pant emerged as the highest run-getter for Team India in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2020-21, with 274 runs in 3 Tests at an average of 68.50 and a strike rate of 69.89, including 2 fifty-plus totals.

He added, “the team management always backs me and tells me you are a match-winner and you have to go out there and win and I am happy I did it today.”

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It was always about intent: Ajinkya Rahane

India’s stand-in skipper in the series, Ajinkya Rahane, led the side gracefully in Virat Kohli’s absence. The right-hander scored a majestic ton in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne to set the momentum back in the visitor’s favor and was eventually awarded the Player of the Match for that knock that helped India level the series 1-1. ‘

“It means a lot to us. I don’t know how to describe this, but our boys showed a lot of character and determination after the Adelaide Test. I am really proud of each individual,” said Rahane, who scored 268 runs in 4 matches.

Rahane shared his approach to the chase when he came onto bat at 132/2 after Gill’s dismissal. He also spoke about the ‘intent and character’ shown by the Indian players throughout the 4-match Test series.

“The conversation between Pujara and me was that he woud bat normal, and I would take it on. It was all about intent. Credit to Pujara, the way he handled the pressure was magnificent. Rishabh and Washington were very good at the end. Taking 20 wickets was the key, so we opted for 5 bowlers. Sundar brought the balance in place of Jadeja. The intent was clear to play five bowlers. Siraj played two Tests, Saini just one, so it was inexperienced but the character shown by the bowlers and everyone else was incredible.

We didn’t discuss anything about Adelaide. Just played, wanted to play the remaining games with good attitude and character without worrying about the result,” concluded Rahane.

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This team wasn’t built overnight: Ravi Shastri

Team India won has now back to back Test tours of Australia under the current head coach – Ravi Shastri.

“The boys have performed so well that I am lost for words. The character of this team is amazing especially after the 36 all out at Adelaide. This team wasn’t built over night. Virat has been with us despite not being here. His intensity rubbed on to everyone else. Rahane might look calm but he is a strong man from the inside. A tough character,” said Shastri in the post-match presentation.

He concluded, “this is a big series win. I don’t think the cricketing world will forget this. Some of us were in a lock down for some 6 months whereas cricket had started in some other part of the world. To come here and play the way we have despite having our main bowlers injured, is phenomenal. The players know when they cross the boundary line, they are playing for India.”

India will now be gearing up for the home series against England starting February 5, comprising 4 Tests, 3 ODIs and 5 T20Is.

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V Shashank
A cricket aficionado who has been following the game since the historic Ashes 2013-14. "People throw stones at you, you turn them into milestones." - Sachin Tendulkar


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