The Indian cricket team has done itself and the country proud. Australia held all the aces after the first Test and it was predicted that the hosts would dominate the remainder of the series. However, that did not happen.
As the series progressed, the Indian players found themselves up against not only a team which is very difficult to beat at home, but also injury concerns. I can vouch from personal experience that it is not easy to keep the spirits high when so many individuals are battling physical discomfort, but the boys have done precisely that. I cannot recall another occasion when so many frontline players sustained injuries, one after the other, in such a short period. It will be an India ‘B’ team, for all practical purposes, which will take the field at the Gabba in Brisbane. However, there will be no dearth of purpose or effort.
The ideal scenario for India will be to win the toss, bat first and put up a big score on the board. Cheteshwar Pujara, who got two fifties at Sydney, will look to carry on in the same vein. Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma, the captain and vice-captain respectively, will have to lead from the front. There has been a lot of talk about the wicket at the Gabba favouring the pacemen. Of course, it will, and the team whose pacemen exploit the conditions better will prevail in the game. With Jasprit Bumrah being a doubtful starter, the young fast bowlers in the Indian line-up will have to shoulder greater responsibility. I see no reason why the likes of Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur, who might be picked in the XI, will not rise to the occasion.
The performance of the Indian team and the resilience displayed by the players also underscores the hard work put in by the BCCI. Rahul Dravid is one of those who deserves to be commended for what he has been doing behind the scenes. The regular tours and series which the India ‘A’ side has been playing, have been a boon.
One of the issues plaguing Indian cricket in the past was the inability of youngsters to come to terms with the pressures of international cricket. However, that isn’t the case anymore. The youngsters of today are a confident lot, having been given multiple opportunities to play and hone their skills in varied conditions, before winning the India cap.
Australia may have not lost a Test at the Gabba since 1988, but this Indian team won’t be thinking about that. Ajinkya Rahane and his boys will go flat out to create history. All the best, Team India.