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From Adelaide humiliation to breaching Brisbane fortress, India's resurrection is a tale to be told
What happened after the pink-ball Test was something even the biggest supporters of the Indian team hadn't imagined.
'India will lose 4-0', was the prediction of some of the greats of the game as the Indian team arrived in Adelaide to kickstart the 4-match Test series. The expected return of skipper Virat Kohli after the first Test further sent shivers down the spine of many Indian supporters, especially after the nature of India's defeat in the Adelaide Test. But, what happened after the pink-ball Test was something even the biggest supporters of the Indian team hadn't imagined.
36 all-out Debacle:
Battered, bruised, and trolled over the nature in which the Indian team was dismissed in the second innings of the Adelaide Test, the touring side headed to their hotel rooms with their heads looking down. The good cricket India had played for the first two days in Adelaide was undone in a matter of one session as Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins ran riot.
With Virat Kohli returning home for the birth of his first child, questions arose over the team's strategy to make a comeback in the absence of their best batsman, over their plans to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
With such critical questions hovering in their minds and the fate of many senior players hanging in balance, the Indian team mustered up enough courage to do their bat do the talking.
With their backs against the wall, the Indian cricket team produced one of its most memorable fightbacks in cricketing history. Stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane notched up his first century of the series as India secured a dominant 8-wicket victory over the Aussies.
More than the fact that the team had pulled itself level 1-1 by winning the second match, it was the odds Rahane's men had beaten to secure the win that made headlines. A story of grit and determination to perform after a morale-shattering defeat in the previous match spoke leaps and bounds of the character of this Indian team.
The fact that the Indian team didn't have the services of Mohammed Shami and also Umesh Yadav injure himself for the most part of the match further depth of talent that the team possesses.
A huge injury setback hit the Indian team as Umesh Yadav joined Mohammed Shami in the injury list but the fixture also marked the return of one of the finest batsmen in the team, Rohit Sharma. The Hitman joined Shubman Gill in the opening department, with both scoring their first half-centuries of the series in the match
Steve Smith stood tall in India's pursuit of a second consecutive victory in the series, scoring 131 and 81 in the two innings. There were moments on Day 5 of the Test where the prospects of Rahane's men going for the kill emerged but injuries to Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin as well as Jasprit Bumrah meant that such execution couldn't practically be possible.
The result of the match kept the series level 1-1 but what became a huge reason of concern for the Indian team management was the number of injuries the team had incurred.
Breaching Brisbane Fortress:
Australian cricket team skipper Tim Paine had taunted India's R Ashwin to come to Gabba, referring to the fact that the hosts had not lost a single match at the venue since 1988. While Ashin himself couldn't make it to the fourth Test due to a back injury, the Indian team still managed to give an apt response to Aussie arrogance.
As many as four Indian players were ruled out from the match – Ashwin, Bumrah, Jadeja, and Vihari – while T Natarajan and Washington Sundar made their debuts in the match alongside Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj who were only one and two matches old respectively.
Given a target of 328 runs to chase on Day 5, India entered the final day's contest with an overnight score of 4/0. Rohit Sharma was dismissed early but Shubman Gill notched up his highest score in the format (91) but failed to convert it into his maiden hundred.
Cheteshwar Pujara anchored the innings as he always does but the most special knock of the match came from the Rishabh Pant, who produced arguably the most impressive performance of his match to guide India to a victory.
Pant's 138-ball 89 put the final nail in the coffin for Australia as India retained the Border Gavaskar Trophy by beating Australia in their own home on the second consecutive occasion.