It is said that cricket is like life. And life can be strange. Very strange, at times. And funny too. What better example than the stories of the two 19s? On 19 December 2020, exactly a month ago, Indian fans felt their lowest when their team was bundled out for just 36 in the first test at Adelaide against Australia.
This was India’s lowest score ever in the history of the game. One would, naturally, write a team off from here on and expect them to lose 4-0. I too felt in case India even draws one of the remaining three matches, it will be like an achievement.
But exactly a month later today, on 19 January 2021, we are celebrating India’s 2-1 series victory after the emphatic win in the fourth test at the Gabba, Brisbane.
Like life, cricket is indeed funny.
It would have been a remarkable victory for India even if they had played their full-strength side in the next three matches. But instead in the last two matches they had to go with an India A or a second string team and still triumphed against the mighty Aussies on their home turf and that too after the disastrous 36 all out.
For example, Mohammed Siraj made his debut in the 2nd test of the series and he was the leading pacer in the fourth one!
Winning with such an inexperienced side makes this one of India’s best test series victories ever if not the best. It has been said that this is an even greater achievement than the 2001 home series against Australia; famous for VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid’s heroics.
But apart from clinching an almost impossible victory, this win has achieved another greater good for the game of cricket.
Many of us would have heard countless number of people say that test matches are boring. It’s a five-day game with no over restrictions and players play slow. Hence, people, especially the younger generation, prefer limited overs cricket, especially T20s; more so after the arrival of the IPL (Indian Premier League).
Limited overs cricket is considered more interesting since the match can swing any ways. There are nail-biting moments with the many close finishes. Throughout the match something or the other keeps happening in the middle to keep the entertainment factor alive.
But this test series has proven that the aforementioned factors can also occur in test cricket. This can be seen from the number of times our heartbeats were increased during the course of the series. In limited overs cricket, fours and sixes are cheered. But the third and fourth test showed that even dot balls can produce excitement.
You would lose counts of the number of dot balls that were cheered in the third test when Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari were batting to save the match for India.
People, who generally avoid test cricket, must have also understood that it takes a lot more skill for both batsmen and bowlers to excel in this format.
It is called ‘test cricket’ for a reason. It is a test of your skills.
This series has endorsed the five-day version of the game not just in India and Australia but also world over like never before. Let’s hope enough people noticed this around the world.
Cricket administrators have been thinking since the last few years about reducing test matches to four-day games. I guess such ideas will be put on the backburner now.