Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar praised the Indian team’s mental and physical strength shown in the four-match Test series against Australia.
The tourists have endured strict quarantine protocols, embarrassing defeats, numerous injuries, dropped catches, bounced back from it all to keep the series levelled 1-1.
With a little over three sessions left in the fourth Test, the match is evenly poised with India set a target of 328 runs. But the legendary batsman opined that India’s performance Down Under would be rated highly irrespective of the result in Brisbane.
“It doesn’t matter what happens here at the Gabba over these final two days. We Indians can and will be truly proud of our cricketers. I have led Indian teams on tour of Australia and no first hand, just how challenging it can be. But what we have witnessed in this series is something extraordinary.
“The tour has tested India not just physically but mentally as well. They have been living in a bio-bubble since their arrival from the UAE in November last year after spending nearly three months in a bio-secure environment at the IPL 2020,” Sunil Gavaskar, who scored 1,550 runs at an average of 51.66 in 20 Tests against the Aussies, said on 7Cricket.
After losing the ODI series 1-2 and winning the T20 leg by the same margin, Team India hit a new low in the first Test. The Virat Kohli-led side not only lost by eight wickets, but they were shot out for their lowest-ever Test total of 36 in the second innings at the Adelaide Oval.
Sunil Gavaskar lauded the Indian players’ sheer strength of will and personality to leave the wounds in the past, and hand Australia a series-levelling defeat by the same margin in the second Test in Melbourne.
“The resolve, fortitude and spirit displayed by these players have been inspiring. Most have been away from home and in the horrid times for over five months. They have been routed in the most crushing way and with the world watching,” Gavaskar, who amassed 10,122 runs at an average of 51.12 in 125 Tests, added.
“India have been tested to their mental and cricketing limits at every turn, every minute” – Sunil Gavaskar
Virat Kohli went on paternity leave after the opening Test, but vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has successfully managed to fill in the former’s shoes. However, India have been found wanting to find like-for-like replacements for six injured first-team players.
Fast bowler Mohammad Shami fractured his right arm in the first Test itself. India were dealt a twin blow when pacer Umesh Yadav (calf muscle injury) and wicketkeeper-batsman KL Rahul (wrist) were ruled out at the start of the new year.
Then, even though India managed to eke out a memorable draw in the third Test, they lost Ravindra Jadeja (dislocated thumb), Ravichandran Ashwin (back) and Hanuma Vihari (hamstring) to injuries. Sunil Gavaskar thus praised the Indian team for living up to the qualities of former Aussie skipper Allan Border – after whom the trophy is named.
“They have seen friends battered and broken. They have been tested to their mental and cricketing limits at every turn, every minute. And even under that most intense train, they have never stopped fighting. And they may still somehow manage to take the trophy home.
“A trophy that was named to honour me and the great Allan Border. A captain who embodied everything we have seen in this series – mental toughness and sill. I know you Australians respect that most of all in yourselves and your opponents. And I know you will always remember what these Indians have achieved this summer,” Gavaskar concluded.
India won the 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1 to become the first Asian team to win a Test series Down Under.
If the walking wounded manage to draw the ongoing series at least to retain the coveted trophy, the Aussies would surely have a tough time forgetting it.
Published 18 Jan 2021, 12:05 IST