On this day: India breach fortress Gabba for historic Test series win vs Australia
- India had never won a Test at the Gabba, Brisbane before their historic three-wicket win in 2021
- Australia were unbeaten at the venue since 1988
- Before the match, former Australia captain Tim Paine challenged India
On this day, in 2021, Team India under the captaincy of Ajinkya Rahane defeated Australia at their fortress Gabba, Brisbane to win their second successive Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia.
Heading into Brisbane Test the four-Test series was tied at 1-1, with Australia winning at Adelaide and India bouncing back at Melbourne. India held Australia to draw in the third Test in Sydney. India had never won at the Gabba and Australia had not lost a Test at this venue since 1988.
But India brought Australia's vanity to the knee by handing them a three-wicket defeat and clinching the Test series 2-1.
Moments before India registered an epic draw in the third Test against Australia at the SCG, skipper Tim Paine threatened India to beat at the Gabba. He was engaged in a verbal duel with Ravichandran Ashwin. "Can't wait for you to reach Gabba, Ash (Ravichandran Ashwin)," Paine said, thinking that their invincible record at the venue would keep India at bay and Australia would win the series.
But history was about to be created and India did that by breaking Australia’s unbeaten run at the venue. Paine’s arrogance was ruined by a motivated Indian team, which was missing captain Virat Kohli. But Indian boys were ready to show Australia what they were up to.
Before the match, India refused to play the fourth Test at Gabba which brought flak towards the Indian team. The injury woes in the Indian ranks only compounded the problems for the visitors as pundits started questioning if Ajinkya Rahane and boys' reluctance to play at the Gabba was indeed due to strict quarantine rules or an attempt to avoid a defeat.
India’s greatest Test series win
India were missing Ravindra Jadeja and Hanuma Vihari in the third Test and on the first morning of the final game, it was clear that Jasprit Bumrah and Ravichandran Ashwin weren't available. But unheralded Washington Sundar, T Natarajan, and Shardul Thakur showed it is not always about the experience and at times it is also about the urge to punch above the weight.
Chasing 328 to win in the fourth innings on a Gabba wicket without Kohli needed more than the ability to bat on. As far as cricketing sense goes, one can say, you need a century from at least one batter if you want to chase such a big target. But this Indian team accepted the challenge thrown at them by Paine and showed Australia why they should prevail over them on that occasion.
Shubman Gill's 91, Rishabh Pant's 89, Cheteshwar Pujara's 56 are some of the notable performances, but Washington Sundar's 22 and Ajinkya Rahane's 24 have the same weight if you look at the context of their innings. In the course of the final innings, Pujara received body blows to keep Australian pacers at check and was termed "The Warrior" of the Indian team. But the determination he showed after being hit, was one for the ages.
This Gabba win helped India retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against all odds, and this will definitely go down as one of the greatest Test series win ever recorded in cricketing history.
Bundled out for 36 at Adelaide
The team was bundled out for 36 at Adelaide in the first Test. This loss saw pundits predict a 4-0 whitewash for India. Kohli’s departure citing paternity leave further dented India’s chance, but Rahane was ready to lead India to create history.
Rahane rose to the challenge and went on to play a match-winning knock at Melbourne as the visitors levelled the series in the second Test.
Pulled off a historic draw at SCG
After Melbourne Test, came Sydney. For the major part of the Sydney Test, the Indian team found itself on the backfoot and not many gave them a chance of walking away with a draw. During the Sydney Test, the Indian pace duo of Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah also had to endure racial slurs from the Australian crowd, and many believed this might distract the visiting side.
However, on the final day, this Indian line-up produced one of the most famous rear-guard actions and the side went away with a scrapping draw. Needing more than 400 runs to win, it was again Pant and Pujara who were at their sublime best. The left-handed Pant hit a quickfire 97 and now if you look at it, who knows what could have happened if he hadn't got out to Nathan Lyon.
Pujara and Pant departed, but then came out Hanuma Vihari and Ashwin. Batting out 258 balls with a fierce home team throwing everything it had up its sleeves is no mean feat. But the Indian duo of Vihari and Ashwin stood ground and managed to do just that as they eked out a draw at the SCG. Batting out 131 overs -- the most India have batted in the fourth innings of a Test since 1980 -- showed exactly what Ashwin meant when he spoke about playing like true warriors at the end of the fourth day's play at the SCG.
A hamstring injury notwithstanding, Vihari hit an unbeaten 161-ball 23 while Ashwin hit 39 off 128 balls as the two defended away any hopes Australia had of registering a win. Post the Sydney Test, Ashwin's wife Prithi revealed that the spin spearhead was tremendous.
There is no doubt that this 2020-21 series will go down as one of the greatest, but looking at what the visiting team had to endure during this three-month tour, it is safe to say this side has registered its name in the history books as the "toughest bunch of men" to ever take the field for India.