When the namesake of a Trophy is Allan Border and Sunil Gavaskar, the contest between the individuals who are vying to win it becomes all-the-more fierce. Before the start of the Border – Gavaskar Series in February 2023, there were whispers in cricketing corridors – is this bigger than the Ashes? With England not being able to save their dignity on Aussie soil, the Ashes are only keenly contested when the Australians come to English grounds. But the dogfight between India and Australia for the BGT is Test Cricket at its pinnacle. ‘Gabba to Delhi – India’s Road to Redemption; Australia’s Mortifying Collapse’ is the journey of the two cricketing giants and especially Team India – rising like a phoenix.
India Goes Down for a Mere 36 Runs – Criticism Galore
The story started in BGT 2020-21 when the Indians went to Australia to defend their trophy. In one of the darkest days of Indian cricket the entire Team was bundled out for a mere 36 runs. The second home of Virat Kohli had never imagined seeing such a disaster. The number itself would go on to become a mockery for the Indian team. With the great Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri at the helm, the entire world came out all guns blazing.
There was severe criticism on the players personal and professional lives. One collective brain fade and the entire team became a target of personal attacks. Captain Kohli, who was due to return to India for the birth of his child, came under immense fire. Worried fans questioned his commitment to the game. The questioned his decision to leave the team at the hand of vultures. The cricket pundits made predictions of India going down 0 – 4 to Australia with their star player not in the ranks.
Would the Indian Team ever recover from this disaster? Would there be a road to redemption on which the Men in Blue could tread? Was it possible for Virat Kohli’s men to ever be able look up without a sense of shame and guilt in their eyes? The day was not far…. and it certainly was not easy.
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India Makes a Comeback with Rookies
However, when the expectations are absolutely zilch, the Indians bring out their best. Ajinkya Rahane scored one of the most significant Test hundreds for Team India. Australia had to face a huge defeat in the Second match at Melbourne. The Third Test at Sydney ended in a Draw. There were fireworks from Rishabh Pant and a valiant partnership between Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari. India, who were set 407 to win, stood firm for 131 overs to finish on 334 for 5.
Indian Youngsters Conquered the Gabba
Tim Paine had resorted to some nasty sledging before the final Test at Gabba. Gabba is considered to be an Australian fortress. A place where the hosts had not lost a match in 32 years was ready to welcome the Indians. With most of the seniors sitting out due to injuries, it was up to the youngsters to save the day for India. The cracks on the pitch on the final day of the Test made it seem that the Indians would be sitting on a flight back home by the afternoon. But it was the Three match old Shubman Gill who scored 91, and Pujara who took some bodyline bowling, Shardul Thakur with his never-say-die attitude who refused to give in to a loss or a draw.
Finally, it was up to Rishabh Pant and Washington Sundar to steer the series the Indian way. Rishabh Pant was unstoppable that day. He unleashed brute force to leave his legacy on one of the most unbelievable wins in India’s Test history.
Aussies Return to India for Revenge
Come 2023, and the Indians are ready to welcome the Aussies on their home soil. The Aussies make their way to the Asian Subcontinent looking for some sweet revenge. The back-chatter had already started with Ian Healey quoting that the Aussies would be able to win the series if the wickets are even and India does not resort to turning tracks. Perhaps he forgot what kind of pitches the Aussies made for India two years back, where Vihari, Ashwin and Pujara were subject to bodyline bowling. Even neutral country greats like Jayawardhane were predicting a 2 – 1 win for Australia.
India Demolish Australia at Nagpur
The Indians, however, are not rookies who would make wickets-on-demand and start losing matches. They play to their strength and know how to win games – whether it may be mind-games or the ones on the field. The First Test at Nagpur ended in 2 and a half days. Jadeja and Ashwin ran through the Aussie line-up without much ado. with Rohit Sharma displayed great defensive technique, stepped a mile ahead to cut the spin and finally scored a Test century. Axar and Jadeja contributed with the bat and the latter spun some magic with the ball. The Aussies were left red-faced after they were subjected to a defeat of an innings and 132 runs.
Aussies Lose 9 Wickets for 52 Runs
If the innings defeat in the Nagpur Test was not enough of an embarrassment, the Delhi Test turned out to be worse. Despite making a good score in the first innings and reducing India to a situation where the lead could have easily been a hundred runs. However, the Aussies could not dismantle Axar Patel and Ashwin when it was most required. With a one-innings shootout, the Australian batters had a brain-fade on the Third Day of the Test, sweeping and reverse sweeping while the ball was staying low. Despite having 9 wickets in hand at the start of the Day, the Aussies were bowled out in an hour and a half. The Indians came out triumphant in the Delhi Test and have now retained the Border Gavaskar Trophy.
The journey of the two cricketing nations from Gabba to Delhi is nothing short of a fairytale. It remains to be seen if the Aussies can make their way back in the remaining two Test matches. Or are we going to see one-sided affairs which end up in being a whitewash for the visitors.
About the Writer – Wasay Habib
Wasay Habib is a Top Analyst and a Cricket Expert who has been following and observing cricket for decades. His insight into the game – players techniques, match analysis and game reading has earned him the respect from millions across the globe. Wasay is popular amongst men and women who are cricket enthusiasts and passionate about the game of cricket. He regularly appears on Television to discuss on different aspects of the game and has a popular Youtube Channel.
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