“Sometimes it takes an overwhelming breakdown to achieve an undeniable breakthrough.”
If you happen to come across these striking words on the Internet, you might be surprised to learn they’re attributed to no-one in particular but “Anon!”
But if you witnessed the proceedings and the eventual outcome of final day at The Gabba, you could say the words fit the state of the Indian team in an almost perfect way.
Leave the victory, yes that hair-raising, tear-jerker, almost unbelievable “gosh-how-did-that-even-happen” moment aside for a second.
To realise that the series-winning team, the one bullied, subjected to familiar chirping from behind the stumps (in what’s become a rather customary Australian offering nearly every time India visits Oz), was at one stage in the series, 36 all out is more thrilling than the numbers Michael Jackson’s record-shattering pop album Thriller generated in the Eighties.
Perhaps that is why, when Rishabh Pant pushed, punched, and hopped whether for a single or a four, to Australia he seemed a dangerous demon while for us he was the hero of the thriller night.
Just that even before the night light dawned upon one of cricket’s most sublime venues, the evening sun had already shone bright on the thriller of an outing.
India bettered Australia some would say. Correct? No.
India- given the team were down albeit not out given the long list of injuries in the camp- overwhelmed Australia.
Similarly, some might say, it was David winning against Goliath.
But today- let’s go a bit deep, shall we?
This was a brave new world whose heroes bore a winning attitude. This was a familiar bully being held by the scruff of its neck and being turned upside down on its own soil.
Of the 329 that India made on the final day, 180- over half of the output- came from two hungry and determined bats.
Their names – Shubhman Gill and Rishabh Pant.
Their speciality- “You bully us, we will give it back. But note, we will spare you the venom that often needlessly spews from the mouth.”
To achieve great things- verbal duels aren’t needed; true intent is enough. Isn’t it?
That lesson learnt, let’s move to what’s more than a modicum of truth.
Even greater in the prized 3-wicket victory was the fact that none knew what would have happened until the final few deliveries were left to play.
For Pant- 97 in the first inning and now the unbeaten 89– it seemed as though the little man was battling himself.
Someone so accustomed to throwing away fire-starters (the fifty in the last Teat was just that) was practising restraint.
That he stayed there until the end to anchor the run chase few thought would come to life was more beautiful than witnessing Elizabeth Taylor or Monica Bellucci at the peak of their youth.
Prior to that, that Gill came in- playing just his sixth inning- and powered a 91, just when his team needed, at least, one opener to fire, was reassuring like seeing a cheetah cub drawing level with the alpha male.
You know that sight when the young predator shows he’s getting there and is almost immediately quick to in making the right noises?
But what did The Gabba unfold other than this?
The old monk getting high on a challenge. Rather the familiar practitioner of patience showing, once again, how it’s done.
Only this time- the blows Cheteshwar Pujara (50 off 176 and 77 off 205 at Sydney) received were harder than any he’s dealt with.
Yet, that the batsman who quietly crept past 6,000 Test runs and played a fighting hand again- 56 off 211- was indicative of the fact that India and Pujara need each other more than ever.
Surely, if there’s something the familiar #3 batsman would’ve liked to do especially since Kohli wasn’t around and he was the go-to guy then it was to have scored (at least) 1 century.
Yet, that he hung in there and didn’t budge under pressure showing composure and that firmness against odds- Pujara stood out.
That he hung in and negotiated the difficult passage of play when his captain Rahane (one can’t get enough of his valiant MCG century) departed was a rewarding experience for that fan who’s described by friends as a sucker for Test cricket.
But nothing would ever fully describe India’s majestic Brisbane victory without mentioning the incredible contributions of Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur, 62 and 67 and 3-fors (for both) in the first inning, respectively.
Where most bowlers dream to tick off the wickets column on Test debut, that Sundar got Smith, familiar run maker and habitual unfair tactic deployer (shall we?)was a dream start to a very promising career.
Ditto for Natrajan for his 3 wickets.
And in the heart of India’s lion-styled triumph, where they cast aside the daunting Australian challenge- given its red ball wielding six plus footers in Hazlewood, Starc and Cummins were irrepressible- was the desire to dwell in pressure, instead of buckling down to it.
It was as if in this social media obsessed, meme-making, constantly WhatsApping, post-liking, retweeting world- it was suddenly Cricket that mattered over and above anything else. Be it for the homemaker who starts her day with a causal scoff at the unfinished chores or the start up team leader enthused most by the fact that Tesla have finally entered India.
There are occasions that are special. Then there are some that simply that warrant a national celebration.
Remember the 2011 World Cup?
How often, and truly think of it, how often does it happen that in a team where Kohli is the superstar, it’s a young unit- unsullied by the pressure, unafraid to express itself- that saves the day.
Surely, you did us proud, India. Surely, our captain, familiar bowler- destroyer Kohli would’ve had a tear in his eye wherever the great would’ve watched this effort from.
More importantly, one’s sure any critic who’s ever called this undeniably talented cricket-worshipping unit wild names – in the garb of criticism – would’ve seen what India can do when confronted with exhaustion, pressure and don’t forget- despair!
Today, it may not be wrong to suggest, even the most emotionally controlled like the Wall Rahul Dravid himself would’ve let go of a few held up tears.
For restraint and expression often go hand in hand. Right say, Rishabh Pant?
Well tried Australia. Well done India.