Sydney Test in 2021: A Red letter day in the cricketing history of India .

Sanjoy Roy

January 13, 2021, 09:32:16   

Although test matches are nowadays have lost some degree of glints and interests due to the emergence of 50 over matches , twenty-twenty tournament across the world mostly like Indian Premier League (IPL), Lanka Premier League (LPL), Caribbean Premier League ( CPL) and Big Bash League( BBL in Australia) etc, recently concluded drawn test match between India and Australia held from 7th January to 11th January at Sydney was amazing filled with high tensions, memorable incidents and twists and turns. The five-day test match was very much fascinating and enjoyed by crowds  till the penultimate over. There had been 15 sessions in the test match of which seven sessions have been won by Australia , five sessions have been won by India while three sessions are shared by both teams. The result of the test match was drawn but according to the majority of cricket experts irrespective of any country, it was an utter moral  victory of Indian in Sydney test as the team had to come across many hurdles including hostile attacks inside and outside the ground. These include rampant inimical sledging of Australian players in the ground, racist ,rancorous and unsavory comments of spectators towards the Indian players from gallery, unmerited decisions of umpires against the Indian batsman in the second innings in particular  although the Decision Review System (DRS) in vogue, imposition of strict COVID-19 norms to the players etc. in Australia , the determination , resilience and courage of Indian players have thrilled and enamoured all cricket loving people of the world unbelievably. Although some (three) players suffered from injuries during the game in this game , the unavoidable injuries could not be stumbling blocks  on the rock-solid mindset of every player negotiated pace attacks of Australian bowlers on merit with  high acumen and austerity. The real character of India was flourished and proved and it made all Indians to feel very proud and happy for the country as a whole. Playing 131 overs in 4th innings on a 5th day pitch was really a breathtaking task and that too against insurmountable pace and spin attack of Australia , ranked best nowadays in the world cricket. This happened after 1979 in England when India negotiated such similar prolonged journey in second innings. It may be mentioned that the situation of 2021 was different from that of the situation in 1979 on the count that in 1979, the whole second innings episode was centered around legendary Sunil Gavaskar who scored 221, while in 2021, the fight against Australia in the second innings was a collective team effort. Efforts and commitments of Rohit Sharma, Shuvman Gill, Chetashwar Pujara, Rishav pant to Hanuman Vihari and R. Ashwin are not only marvelous, mellifluous and astounding but these would also remain as memorable and empyrean achievement in their life forever including the players remained in the bench. The brilliance of Rishav pant who was under fire of criticism for his lackadaisical performance with his bat and gloves over the last one year got skyrocketed at a time when the country needed the most. Had he been in the match for 10 to 15 overs more , the victory could be easily achievable. Actually his 97 run innings had pulled the team out of shell that India embraced including the 1st innings strategy. It may be recalled that there is a general belief 'when defeat/ death seems to be imminent, it is better to go for counter attack, knowing the fact that nothing is likely to be lost except defeat or death' and Indian team employed the same strategy. After  the very early departure of  Ajinka Rahane on fifth day morning , stand in captain of  Indian team , the team management  promoted Rishav Pant , left-handed flamboyant wicket keeper batsman up the order before injured Hanuman Vihari , much to the surprise of Australian team and as usual he, after short stay at the wicket  ,went out all berserks and started playing the balls for which  he is known for.  The attacking shots of Rishav could also help Pujara come out of the hibernation of low-confidence due to run- dryness during this tour and it enabled him free from extra pressures of fear of losing the battle. Slowly and steadily the pressures on Indian batsman started coming down and conversely the Australian started feeling otherwise until Rishav Pant got out. 

Hanuman Vihari who so far remained insipid in the tour, came to the scene for which selectors and team management had been put into question and under pressure in the electronic ,print and social for dropping him from the team for cursory performances but he battled for three and half hours with severe injuries in his leg. The departure of Pujara although created a void with high sense of insecurity and fears among the Indian that India might  shortly be bundled out as recent happenings of  1st test match establish, the calmness, boldness of Vihari and Ashwin proved the gumption of everyone wrong . It can hardly be believed that the duo batted almost 41 overs together on a fifth day track ,that too on the back of mind that available balance resources are too meager to baulk the fierce Australian attack, if either of two goes out. Thanks to Vihari and Ashwin who didn't allow any uncertainty to happen and they nullified the high victory aspirations of Australians for this match and rather pushed Australian hope in quandary. Vihari may have scored 23 out of 162 balls for which some critics may opine otherwise (like he should have gone for victory) , but his physical condition was too good for normal cricket and  his paltry innings is no less than century. This is not the 1st time that Vihari has saved India, but Vihari did it in West Indies, England. Ironically , Vihari does not remain in the minds of many cricket lovers . The confidence of selectors is honoured by Vihari who remained committed to play in the 2nd innings despite his major injuries in the leg. Vihari is declared unfit for the next match and it is not sure when Vihari would be seen with team as Vihari is hardly considered for test matches on Indian soil. But his innings had created an indelible mark and even ICC has eulogized Vihari and Ashin in its website.

One stunning point that  needs to be mentioned is that   the morale of the team remained unaffected despite the fact Virat Kohli , the regular captain cum Principal batsman of the team, had returned to India on parental leave after a massive face loss in 1st day-night test match in Adelaide coupled with  the absence of key bowlers and batsman like Md. Shammi, Umesh Yadav and KL Rahul respectively due to sudden injuries. The result of Sydney test  is  undoubtedly a historic one  because it occurred first in twenty first century.  Secondly, no test playing team has ever survived more than 130 overs against Australian bowlers in second innings on fifth day torn pitch in the twenty first century in Australia. Thanks to review system launched that came handy for India. It may be known that umpires in this match gave 5 outs against Indian batsman in 2nd innings alone , which proved wrong and incorrect by decision review system of Umpires  called DRS . Had DRS not been introduced , Sydney test match would have same fate as experienced by under Ganguly in 2003-04 and Anil Kumble in 2008. Can anyone believe that five decisions of umpires in second innings are turned out negative when Indian batsman challenged the decisions under DRS? Does it not raise qualms on the role of Umpires? There are many reasons and moments that made the Sydney test "historic". It established the real character of India. Let us wait to see that  Indian Tri-colour flies in Brisbane where 4th test match is scheduled to commence on 15th January, 2021 and India wins the test series 2-1 which  all Indians  are expecting to see and happen. Nothing is worthier than the pride of country.

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