BGT 2020-21: India’s Greatest Series Win

Border Gavaskar Trophy 2020
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Border Gavaskar Trophy 2020-21

It was India’s first big tour post-pandemic. India was touring Australia after 2 years. They were the holders of the Border-Gavaskar trophy. But the challenge this time around was completely different. India was up against a full-strength Australian side. Steve Smith and David Warner (last two Tests) were back for the Aussies. Tim Paine had established himself as a capable leader. The Aussies smelt revenge. Let us look at the details of the Border Gavaskar Trophy 2020-21.

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India’s pre-series challenges: Border Gavaskar Trophy 2020-21

Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma, two of India’s most experienced pacers were ruled out from the series even before a ball was bowled. Test’s leading allrounder Ravindra Jadeja was ruled out from the first Test. Rohit Sharma could participate in the series only from the third Test. Captain Virat Kohli was leaving post the first Test on paternity leave. India surely had their task cut out against a hostile crowd, a hungry home side, and the Australian press!

#1 The Adelaide humiliation

Australia hadn’t lost a single Day-Night Test match. They were buoyant to kickstart the series with a D/N Test in Adelaide. India lost a wicket off the second ball of the Test but recovered well to be placed at 175-3 at one stage. Kohli and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane were laying a solid platform.

In a moment of madness, Kohli was run out, and Rahane followed soon. India could muster just 244. Their bowlers though firmly put India back into the driver’s seat at the end of day two. Nobody knew what was to unfold on the morning of day 3. India was shot out for 36-9 with Mohammad Shami being ruled out of the series. Australia romped home in style and gained a 1-0 lead.

#2 The magic at Melbourne

India made 4 changes (2 forced) to their lineup in the second Test at Melbourne. Jadeja, Rishabh Pant, Mohammad Siraj, and Shubman Gill walked into the side. India’s changes played pivotal roles in various capacities throughout the Test. Despite losing the toss and bowling first, India bowled Australia out for less than 200.

Ajinkya Rahane, the stand-in skipper scored a brilliant century to take India to the pole position. India’s bowlers tightened the screws in the second innings to restrict the target to just 70. Gill and Rahane provided the final flourish. India levelled the series 1-1. Not many knew then what the Test would eventually mean for the country. The new year had something special in store.

Also Read – BGT 2018-19: India Break The Jinx

#3 The brave escape at Sydney

India’s injury list kept growing with every passing day on the tour. Sharma came back into the team but KL Rahul and Umesh Yadav were ruled out from the series. Australia was in control for most of the Test match having gained a sizeable first-innings lead. India had their backs to the wall on the final day having been set a target of 407.

They lost both their openers and had just 8 wickets in hand going into the final day. Rahane departed early on the third day leaving an Aussie victory a mere formality. India sprung up a surprise promoting Rishabh Pant ahead of Hanuma Vihari at number 5.

Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara then counterattacked in stunning fashion. It appeared that India might even overhaul the total. But once the duo departed, India’s chance stood slim. They had the bruised duo of Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin at the crease. An injured Jadeja was next to follow. But Vihari and Ashwin braved the Aussie onslaught to keep India unscathed. Both teams headed to Gabba with an eye on the prize.

#4 India pull off their greatest Test win at the Gabba

The touring Indian side was battered but they refused to bow down. Bumrah, Ashwin, and Jadeja joined the injury list. India’s bowling attack at Gabba had a combined tally of 13 wickets between them. The Aussie bowlers on the other side had more than 1,000 wickets. It was the ultimate David vs Goliath battle. Australia posted 369 batting first and had India down to 186-6 at one stage.

India found new heroes in Washington Sundar (debut) and Shardul Thakur (2 Tests old) to weather the storm. The duo put on an enterprising stand of 123 to take India to 336. Siraj then picked up a 5-wicket haul in just his third Test to restrict the Aussies to 294. India had to chase 329 to win. Australia had to pick 10 wickets on the final day. An Aussie win looked likely!

The fortress was breached:

Rohit Sharma departed early but young Gill had no idea of slowing down. He scored a brilliant 91 setting up the chase. Rahane played a blazing cameo that kept the tempo alive. Pujara held fort at one end allowing Pant to work his magic all over again.

Pant kept going for the win no matter how long the stretch appeared. Sundar’s cameo under the fading sun made his task just a wee bit easier. India made history as Pant aptly hit the winning runs. The fortress was breached. India created history and this series win will surely remain one of India’s greatest-ever wins.

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