India sealed a memorable 2-1 series victory against Australia, with an eight-wicket win in the fourth Test in Dharamasala, thus reclaiming the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Kohli : “Unbelievable feeling. I think this is the best series win for us so far. The last time when we beat England I thought that was an intense series, but this time around the fight the Australian team gave on their part was really amazing. But our guys bounced back and showed the true character of the side. You want to be in the thick of things, but sitting from the outside, it was great to see the way the guys handled situations and the way Ajinkya captained. The responsibility shown by all the guys in the team was really pleasing to see, especially from the outside. The changes made to our fitness regime has paid off I guess. That’s been the key difference for us. In the past we might have given away the game in a few sessions, but the ability to keep bouncing back, starting from No. 7 and finishing as No. 1 at the end of the season is an outstanding achievement, especially very proud as a captain.”
Kohli added : “There has not been one or two individuals that have stood out. In the bowling department there have been five, six guys. In the batting department there have been guys who have scored throughout the season and the responsibility has been shared – that’s the only way you can become the No. 1 team in the world. It’s been a team season. Lot of credit has to go to all the boys on a daily basis to improve our skills. The kind of fitness they (fast bowlers) have showed and the desire (to win) has been the main difference. It started from the South African series, right till the end of this series, I think their contribution has been game-changing. Of course the spinners have dominated, but the role the fast bowlers played was brilliant to watch. A lot of credit to all these victories goes to them as well. It is still a few weeks to go till I can be 100 percent on the field (talking about his shoulder injury). These things happen in your career, just got to take it in my stride and move forward.”
Rahane :”Really enjoyed the game. Credit to all the boys, not only in this series, but throughout the season. Everyone stepped up when needed. Really happy as a captain, unfortunately Virat got injured for this game. We decided during lunch time on Day 1 that if we stop the runs and take one wicket – only Smith and Warner were scoring the runs – we can capitalise from there. I thought the way Kuldeep bowled after lunch was great. He was bowling really well in the nets and he has the X-factor in him. We all had the confidence in Kuldeep. I felt the bowlers from the other end also maintained the pressure. The kind of bowling Umesh, Bhuvi, Ishant, Shami did throughout the season was good to see from the slip and gully region.”
Rahane added: “I was just thinking about the Sri Lanka game when we lost chasing 130 (sic) odd runs. We were a bit in a shell. So I just wanted to play positively and take the momentum forward here. Rahul from the other end played really well and I just had to take my chances. Credit to Australia for playing some good cricket and fighting hard. I felt this was the best wicket (of the series). It had good pace, bounce and the ball was turning as well from Day 1. If you apply well, it is still good to bat on and very easy to score runs because of the bounce.”
Jadeja: I am feeling good; being the No. 1 Test bowler and did well in the home season. Feeling very happy being part of this champion team. When I was batting, I thought I would take my time and play. Matthew Wade kept talking and that kept motivating me, I had to answer with the runs. I had to stay till the end. That is what the captain and coach told me, to believe in myself. Overall as a player it is important to develop. People were telling I was not a Test player and this an answer to them. I just try to improve day-by-day and be a better player. From one end he (Ashwin) picks wickets and I do the same from the other, it keeps the pressure on the batsman. It is also a different variation. No team likes to play spinners. We discuss a lot about how to bowl and plan accordingly. We need to do this outside India as well and keep this winning momentum going. The confidence is developing and I will try my best to get a hundred and do the double-bat sword celebration. It was a good wicket for the fast bowlers because of the bounce and seam movement. The fast bowlers would have enjoyed it. When we lost the toss and bowled, there was not much help for the spinners. But we kept it tight and allowed the fast bowlers to keep the pressure on.
Ravindra Jadeja is the Man of the Match and also the Man of the Series
Smith : “It was a magnificent series, probably one of the best I have been part of so far. I thought we played some very good cricket throughout the series. We probably had our opportunities at times. Credit to India, they are a fantastic cricket side, particularly in their own backyard here. If you give them a sniff, they will take it, so credit to India for winning the series 2-1 . It was a fantastic learning curve for us. India is one of the toughest places to tour for us Australians. The way we adapted and challenged India in these conditions was fantastic. Guys came out with really good plans and I am really proud of the boys the way they competed throughout the series.”
“That middle session where we lost for five for 70 odd made the difference. I thought India bowled particularly well yesterday afternoon. Umesh Yadav was fantastic throughout the series along with the spinners as well. A lot of people really wrote us off before we came here. They thought it was going to be a 4-0 whitewash, but I must say I am really proud of the way the guys have adapted and been able to compete against a quality line-up. We have probably let a few moments slip, you can’t do that against a quality outfit like India. We have learnt a lot out of this series and hopefully that will help us improve going forward as well.”
Lots of interviews being conducted currently and we will have everything up on the site in a flash. It is being transcribed at the moment. A nerd to the core. A real Engineer in our team – who still remembers his Physics equations and Mathematical formulae. With the memory of an Elephant when it comes to recalling cricketing series’s and past events. The man who is an “early finish” expert. Tests rarely go into the last day when he is on that particular match. Has all the luck when it comes to that aspect. Wondering where I’m going with this? Yes I’m referring to our very own – Vineeth Anantharaman who has the definitive, engaging and fitting series description which does perfect justice to this epic series. Don’t miss that one. A must read article – which will be hyperlinked. And I see the Indian team in their whites. Which means we are ready for the presentations as well. So don’t go too far. Tons of content coming your way…
Smith added : “It (Dharamsala) is one of the most picturesque grounds with this amazing mountain in the background. It was a very good wicket here. It had pace and bounce, that’s what we Australians like. Probably the quickest wicket we have played on (in this series) and it suited the spinners as well. If you were willing to bide time, you could score runs as well. I have been pretty intense throughout the series. I really wanted to do well for my team and lead from the front with my performance. At times I was probably in my own little bubble and let my emotions slip a little bit, so I apologise for that. I really enjoyed playing this series. It’s been a great learning curve for me an individual and as a captain of this team as well.”
Kumble: We spoke about this in West Indies. Before the start of the long Test season that we will take it one Test at a time, one series at a time and one session at a time. To finish off like this after being 0-1 down against the Aussies, you could see tired bodies but they came back well to win the series. It was important for the team to stand up after Virat’s injury and Rahane led the team well. After losing the toss and to chase 300 was brilliant. I think the fast bowlers have bowled well throughout the season; especially yesterday to see Umesh and Bhuvi really bowl quick and trouble the Aussies. The mind games were done on the pitch and chasing 106 in the last innings was brilliant. The positives have been adapting to conditions. We have had 25 players come in and they have adapted to the conditions. We played in six new venues and we have adapted to each and everyone of them without knowing what to expect. Everyone has contributed; lower-order and the bowlers. One area we need to improve is our catching and that is something we will look to improve. After the aberration in Pune to come back and win the series, just brilliant. Once you have bowlers to pick 20 wickets in any conditions that’s when you start competing. The batting has always been good and it is a matter of getting the fast bowlers engaged. Jadeja has been brilliant, Ashwin of course, everyone knows what he is capable of. He has always been in the shadows and he has come out now. With this kind of line-up I don’t see why we can’t go abroad and win. I think that (DRS) certainly helped, once it came out in the England series, we have done exceptionally well and it has gone our way, it has certainly helped Indian cricket.
Ashwin: It was very special (second session on day three). The game was in the balance and we got our noses head ahead in the game. To a see a spell like that, he (Umesh) was blasting away in that spell, got Warner and Renshaw. When you are physically there, mentally it helps a little bit more. I have been battling injury and credit to the physio and support staff who have helped me in the last six months. I wanted the ball more than I wanted in a couple of innings earlier, felt a little jaded in Ranchi as well, yesterday the game was on the line and I had to put my hand up and I was looking forward to the opportunity. I was a bit disappointed that I came into the attack a little late. We (him and Jadeja) have been hand in hand, hand in glove throughout the season. It is important to bowl in tandem, whenever we bowled in tandem, we have broken the opposition. Yesterday again we bowled in tandem and broke the middle order with four quick wickets. Credit needs to be given to Jaddu. He is one of the most economical bowlers, which allows me to experiment from the other end.
Umesh: Yeah, definitely (enjoyed playing). It was time to do something as we were playing the last game. I was just bowling to my strong points and the spinners finished it. I was trying my best to get early wickets and go with the rhythm from the last six months. I wanted to something special for my team and I happy that I got those wickets. These spells come rarely and I am very happy for that. I am thankful to Sanjay (Bangar) because he always keeps telling me my strong points and which areas to bowl.
Rahul: This series has taught me a lot. After the Pune Test I knew I could not play a few shots, that was a big restriction. I love to play my shots, attack the spinners and hit sixes. Little disappointing that I could not convert the starts, but if you ask me now, nothing else matters than a 2-1 Test series win against Australia from 0-1 down. We want to score big runs, but at the end of the series we want to be standing behind that champions board. I took a few knocks, but all I was telling myself is it was okay to take a few hits for my team. The wicket was doing a bit. Honestly I don’t know what was going through my mind. All I was looking at was the scoreboard and how close we were getting to the target. The way Jinks came out and started hitting Cummins for sixes was excellent. He came out with a clear mind and said I am going to take on the bowlers, let’s not look to play the spell out, let’s counterattack. So I said okay, let’s do that. It is one of the best Test matches and Test series we have been part of.
Pujara: We had a fantastic series, especially after a disappointing first Test. We wanted to win it 3-1, but we won it 2-1 and we are very happy. All of us contributed. We have been having partnerships from the Bangalore Test match. I was just telling that we needed partnerships even if we were not scoring many runs. I was telling KL that he was getting himself out, especially after the Bangalore Test, rather than the bowlers getting him out. We have been batting well throughout the series. Not really (when asked if he wanted a break after a great season). I would still like to keep going if there were a few matches. We wanted to be No. 1 as a team. I really enjoyed this particular season.
Coming back to this match, Australia lost the plot in the post-lunch session on day 1 and India did the same in the post-tea passage of play on day 2. It was Kuldeep and Lyon respectively who brought their sides back into the game. And then yesterday when the game was on a knife’s edge, it was the Jadeja and Umesh show. First Jadeja with the bat and then Umesh with the ball. Australia collapsed at the most crucial juncture and the target of 107 was never going to be enough. 200 would’ve given India jitters. And Rahul and Rahane completed the job today inside lunch to help India regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Australia can hold their heads high. Really high. They may have lost the series but they were expected to be the easiest to be brushed aside out of New Zealand, England and Bangladesh who came before them. Even the gung-ho Aussie press were giving their side no hope – scoffing at their team selections, their lack of quality resources etc etc. A scoreline of 4-0 was a taken. And then Pune happened. And when Lyon took 8 on the opening day to bowl India out cheaply at Bangalore – the reality sunk in – this Australian team was here to play and win, not to make up the numbers and succumb to defeat. Then the Indians came storming back through Pujara and Rahane stand. That was the turning point of the series. Had it not been for Pujara’s 92, India would’ve lost the series then and there at Bengaluru.