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“First, you can never take anything for granted; second, never ever, ever underestimate the Indians. There are 1.5 billion Indians, and if you play in that first eleven, you’ve got to be really tough, don’t you?”  ~ Justin Langer

As the Border Gavaskar trophy returns to our television screens, we are reminded of the iconic Gabba victory that will always remain etched in every Indian cricket fan’s mind and recite the lesson that the Australians learned the hard way: “Never Ever Underestimate the Indians.”

Despite being declared the losing side even before the series commenced and having an ominous start with their lowest scoring total (36 all out), India emerged victorious on the soil where the Australian kangaroos remained undefeated for 32 years.

This beautiful tale goes as such: the Indians were supposedly playing for a “lost cause.” Their captain had to leave midway through the tournament for the birth of his child. Their gun players weren’t present for the first crucial matches, and last but not least, it was impossible to defeat the Australians on GABBA soil. Some so-called “cricket experts” had already declared a whitewash for India in the series. Their prediction appeared to become reality when India lost its first match at Adelaide with its lowest total. Adding insult to injury, it was predicted that this was the only match that India had a virtually equal chance of winning. To make matters even worse, India’s then-skipper and undoubtedly the most admirable batsman in the Indian dugout, Virat Kohli, was on paternity leave.

Former Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin reckoned the opening pink-ball Test was India’s best chance in winning a game in the ongoing series. With their regular skipper and talisman Virat Kohli gone, the verdict of the series was all but formally written. Indians were written off by almost all fans, experts, and pundits of the sport.

Former England skipper Michael Vaughan had even gone on to predict a 4-0 series result in favour of Australia, even before the second Test began at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

The first redemption came in Melbourne, with India striking back with an eight-wicket win. After losing the first game in Adelaide, it was a huge challenge for India to win the four-match Test series. Ajinkya Rahane and company kept their cool and stunned the cricket world by defeating Australia by eight wickets and tying the series at 1-1.

Team India showed endurance and heroism during the third match, when R Ashwin and Hanuman Vihari put their bodies and careers on the line to save the day and tie the game. This was a fightback and showed a glimpse of what was to come.

Now that the scene was set, it all led to the Gabba Fortress. This upcoming battle came with many other challenges as well. First of all, India had lost half of their main playing 11 courtesy of uncalled injuries. Team India had to battle the Australians in their backyard without the expertise of Ravindra Jadeja and Hanuman Vihari. On the day of the final match, it was declared that India’s bowling sensations, Jasprit Bumrah and R. Ashwin, weren’t available.

During the third test, Australian captain Tim Paine engaged in a verbal brawl with R Ashwin, saying,” can’t wait for you to reach Gabba, Ash”. Indeed, India couldn’t wait to reach Gabba either.

With an injury-plagued team and strict quarantine rules, many cricket pundits wondered if the men in blue were hesitant to play at the Gabba battleground. But all these questions and criticism were shut down when the Indian team, with novice yet determined players, brought their A game against a full-fledged Australian playing XI. The playing 11 was indeed a cobbled-together IPL one-nighter newbie, making one of the dreamiest playing XIs. It felt like a team put up by a child, having three or four stacks of cricket attack packets.

India’s bowling attack was led by Mohammed Siraj, who debuted in Melbourne, supported by Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan, and Washington Sundar, who had just two Tests between them heading into Brisbane. But these newbies truly showed that it is not always experience that brings victory, at times it is the urge and determination which is needed to break down even the mightiest Fortress.

When Cummins drew hitman Rohit Sharma, one of India’s most outstanding batsmen, forward to a ball that caught the outside edge with a fine catch in slip, India appeared to be in danger. But as India had shown throughout the series, they were never out of the contest.

Shubham Gill’s sensational 91 against the herculean Australian bowling attack showcased a bright future for Indian cricket. The warrior and the unbreakable wall, Cheteshwar Pujara, showcased the stubbornness India had to never give up. Cheteshwar Pujara took a blow to every part of his body and still stood firm and proud, staring back at the face of his nemesis.

But all this would have been rendered in vain if it wasn’t for a certain Rishabh Pant, who rose to the occasion to not only save the test but also take India to victory. Pant took advantage of any loose balls and played some extraordinary T20 shots.

With the final session of the match heading towards a tense finish as India needed about a run-a-ball to win, Pant timed the chase to perfection and finished the match with a drive past mid-off for four.

“This is the biggest thing in my life right now,”

said Pant after his superb effort. “I want to win matches for India, I’m happy I did it today.”

A poised statement from a gun batsman. It proved to be true that “the Australian didn’t understand that he’ll hit you for a six and babysit your kids, we’ve got Rishabh Pant!”

India constructed one of the most historic test victories against all adversities, historical numbers, and statistical odds. If Melbourne was a statement and Sydney a heist, then Brisbane was a miracle. It showed a glimpse of the power Indians truly hold. Many of the players playing were anonymous to even the cricket commentators and fans, but these unrecognized heroes crumbled the Australian lineup with their exceptional performances.

Australia was without Warner and Smith in 2018-19. India was without half their playing 11 in 2020-2021!

India overcame injuries, abuse, banter, quarantine, bio-bubbles, a full-strength Australian eleven in their backyard, a hostile home crowd, and history to win the most significant overseas Test series in cricket history!

Australia was forced to surrender its fortress.

India Arrived, Beheld, and Conquered!


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