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From Adelaide's 36 All Out to Brisbane 329/7 - Why This is India's Greatest Test Series Win

The series win in Australia in 2018-19 was historic - India's first Down Under. But the win 2020-21 is an extraordinary feat! It is the stuff of legends. For everything which has transpired before and during the series makes this result for India the biggest series win in their Test history, may be even greater than the home series win against a champion Australia side in 2001.

From Adelaide's 36 All Out to Brisbane 329/7 - Why This is India's Greatest Test Series Win

Even fairy tales do not have such an ending! Not the best writers in the world could have scripted this better for India. Not the luckiest of punters could have gambled on this result. It has been NOT one of the greatest performances but THE GREATEST PERFORMANCE by an Indian team away from home in their Test cricket history. Against all odds and the best bowling attack in the world in their own backyard, with injuries before and during the series, absence of their captain and best batsman, without their pace quartet and leading spinner for the decider, India, still somehow managed to stage one of the most sensational fightbacks post their debacle in Adelaide and won the series 2-1 after breaching the fortress in Brisbane where Australia had not lost a Test in 32 years!

The series win in Australia in 2018-19 was historic - India's first Down Under. But the win in 2020-21 is an extraordinary feat! It is the stuff of legends. For everything which has transpired before and during the series makes this result for India the biggest series win in their Test history, may be even greater than the home series win against a champion Australian side in 2001.

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The Horror of 36, The Absence of Kohli, Injuries & Then the MCG Victory

India were reduced to 36 in the second innings in the Day and Night Test at the Adelaide Oval - their lowest score in an innings in Test cricket. Australia went on to win the Test by 8 wickets. The visitors were shattered, bruised, hurt, insulted and to add salt to the wounds without the services of their captain and best batsman, Virat Kohli for the remainder of the series. He was to return to India to attend the birth of his first child. Mohammed Shami, one of their best strike bowlers in the last few years, fractured his arm in Adelaide and was ruled out of the series. The visitors were already without Rohit Sharma for the first couple of matches. Ishant Sharma, another wicket-taking bowler for India was ruled out of the series even before it started. Obituaries were being written. 4-0 Australia.And then India produced one of the finest fightbacks in their Test history at the MCG.

From Adelaide's 36 All Out to Brisbane 329/7 - Why This is India's Greatest Test Series Win

Led by an inspired performance from Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin with the ball and a brilliant hundred from stand-in-captain, Ajinkya Rahane with significant contributions from Ravindra Jadeja and debutants, Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj, India bounced back and beat Australia by 8 wickets in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG. To show such fight, resolve and character after such humiliation gave the first signs that this new Indian team under a new captain were on their way to something special in the remainder of the series.

Bio-Breach Fiasco and the Quarantine Controversy

To add to the on-field drama, five Indian players were accused of breaching the biosecurity bubble by eating at a restaurant in Melbourne. The Australian media, former players, pundits were all gunning for the throat of Rohit Sharma and co. Meanwhile, there was tension between the two cricketing boards and the players after India expressed reservation to play in Brisbane after being subjected to a stringent quarantine at the hotel. A lot of former Australian greats, commentators and even the members of the current team accused the Indians of being bullies. This was mental disintegration as practiced by Australia for decades!

From Adelaide's 36 All Out to Brisbane 329/7 - Why This is India's Greatest Test Series Win

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More Injuries and the Greatest Save at the SCG

Umesh Yadav was ruled out of the last two Tests after suffering a calf strain at the MCG - the famed quartet was now just reduced to Bumrah. Ishant, Shami and Yadav were all out of the series and there were still two Tests to be played. No one gave India a chance to save the SCG Test after being set a mammoth 407 by Australia in the fourth innings. But this was a different Indian team. A team which did not want to give up. A team which had so much character and belief.

From Adelaide's 36 All Out to Brisbane 329/7 - Why This is India's Greatest Test Series Win

Rohit and Gill provided the start, Pujara and Pant took India closer to the target. Such was the confidence that the wicket-keeper batsman decided to go for an outright win which was a realistic possibility till his dismissal for 97 off just 118 deliveries.

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Then came the defiance of a lifetime as an injured Hanuma Vihari (23 off 161 deliveries) and an in-pain R Ashwin (39 off 128 deliveries) batted together for 259 deliveries against the best attack in the world on a Day 5 pitch and saved the Test for India. They ensured that India somehow had a chance of winning the series at The Gabba - an unthinkable proposition after Adelaide! During the course of the partnership, the duo not only braved off the famed bowling attack but also a lot of banter and chatter from the Australians on the field.

A Make-Shift Indian XI Breaches The Fortress

India barely had an XI to field at The Gabba. Ashwin, Jadeja, Vihari and Bumrah - were all ruled out from the big decider with injuries. So India went into the fortress without any member of their fast bowling quartet and their two leading spinners. They were already without their best batsman and now sans the services of one of their heroes with the bat from the SCG. Such was India's plight with injuries that they had to call upon the services of one of their net bowlers, Washington Sundar, to be a part of the XI at The Gabba.

From Adelaide's 36 All Out to Brisbane 329/7 - Why This is India's Greatest Test Series Win

The Indian bowling unit that stepped out in Brisbane had a collective experience of just 4 Tests which included the two debutants T Natarajan and Sundar. It was their lowest since the second ever Test that India played in 1933 against England in Mumbai. The Indian XI had a total of 13 wickets (Rohit Sharma has two Test wickets) between them before the Brisbane Test whereas the Australian team had a tally of 1033 wickets, It was almost like a David vs Goliath Battle!

Australia had not lost a Test at The Gabba in 32 years. India had only chased 300 or more in the fourth innings twice in their history. India had had a torrid time when set 300-plus in the fourth innings. In 80 such previous matches, they had lost on as many as 45 occasions, ie, an overwhelming 56.25%! They held for a draw 32 times while there was one tie - the historic Chennai Test in 1986! India's highest successful chase in Australia was 233 for 6 in Adelaide in 2003 - the only instance where they have gunned down a 150-plus score in the fourth innings in Australia! That is how tough it had been for India Down Under over the years, especially when batting last in the fourth innings.

Of a total of 22 matches when they were set a target of 150 or more in Australia, India had lost as many as 16 and drawn 5. On the other hand, the highest successful chase at The Gabba itself was just 236 for 7 - Australia beat West Indies by three wickets in 1951. The highest successful chase by a visiting team at The Gabba was 170 for 3 by England in 1978.

From Adelaide's 36 All Out to Brisbane 329/7 - Why This is India's Greatest Test Series Win

And yet, against all adversity, history, numbers, statistics, India found new heroes and some old ones again rose to the occasion to not only save the Test but actually have the audacity, determination and skill to go on and win it. Siraj, leading the pace attack picked his first fifer, Shardul Thakur gave him excellent support, Gill produced a master-class 91 in the chase and then the combination of Pujara's defense and defiance and Pant's aggressive intent and attack took India to a remarkable three-wicket victory with just three overs to be bowled in the final few minutes on Day 5.

Australia were without Warner and Smith in 2018-19. India were without half their team in 2020-2021!

India battled injuries, abuse, banter, quarantine, bio-bubbles, a full fledged Australian XI in their own backyard, a hostile home crowd and history and came out triumphant against all odds to record the greatest overseas Test series win in their cricket history!

Australia were made to surrender at their fortress.

India Came, Saw and Conquered!



Team Rankings

RankTeamPointsRating
1 New Zealand 3198 118
2 Australia 3028 116
3 India 3085 114
4 England 4326 106
5 South Africa 2499 96
FULL Ranking
RankTeamPointsRating
1 England 5405 123
2 India 6102 117
3 New Zealand 3716 116
4 Australia 4344 111
5 South Africa 3345 108
FULL Ranking
RankTeamPointsRating
1 England 6877 275
2 Australia 6800 272
3 India 10186 268
4 Pakistan 7516 259
5 South Africa 5047 252
FULL Ranking