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No better advertisement for test cricket
Winning in India was once described as the “final frontier” by Steve Waugh and for many teams, it has proved to be the case. The Australian team in 2004 conquered the sub continent’s toughest team with Adam Gilchrist at the helm. The outstanding generation of players from England got their rewards in 2012 but other teams have not been able to crack the Indian conundrum. Battling conditions has been the primary focus of teams, but then the world class players from India have provided salt to the wounds. This time was going to be different however. There were no scars from previous tours for many of the players and they could focus simply on playing to the best of their abilities, as their inspirational skipper Steve Smith. What transpired in the next four test matches has arguably been one of the best series of all time. Such gripping action has not been seen in a test series for a very long time, maybe even since the Ashes 2005. Here’s why.
For youngsters watching this wonderful sport, the consensus is that test cricket can be exciting at times, but teams can often play with a fear of failure. Looking to contain and stopping the flow of runs has been a tactic used by many a team in the past few years. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this series was different with two of the most aggressive teams fighting it out. Every session gripped the watching public and had a marked outcome in the destiny of the test match. Another fascinating thing that mustn’t be overlooked is that a session did not have an impact for the next session. If a team was on top, just like the Australians on the first session of the final test match, India came back with venom and vigour. 77 runs for the loss of 5 wickets brought India back into the game. If every team goes out with that attitude of giving their 100% to compete, there is no doubt that test cricket is fine as it is, actually brilliant as it is.
If the teams were competitive, the captains were just at another realm. Virat Kohli and Steve Smith have had their significant differences during the series, but that just adds to their fascinating dynamic. Both of them always look for victory, even when they are close to being defeated. Aggressive field placings, bold team selections and inspirational qualities are just some of the things that have been ever present in this series. Even Ajinkya Rahane, who stepped up in place of Virat in the last game, showed his great qualities as captain. Bouncing back every session when they were on the cosh is a great credit to “Jinx” and should not be forgotten in a hurry. This series has just shown, regardless of the conditions, aggressive captaincy and looking to win will always be rewarded. Forget the fear of failure, take the risks to have success.
Before the series began, many commentators and pundits alike felt the inexperience of Australia would count against them. The predictions of 4-0 were emphatically shut down by the time the first test had finished. Since then, India knew they were in a real battle and a huge amount of credit must go to the Australians. Every session they have looked like they are within a real shout of winning. Furthermore, it has not been a lone effort from the world’s best test player. Yes, he has had a terrific series but other players have stood out. Nathan Lyon and Steve O’Keefe have shown their strengths and Josh Hazlewood have been stunning this series. Young players like Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb have adapted to foreign conditions so bravely and have often saved their nation from the jaws of defeat. A defeat in the series cannot overshadow the outstanding contribution to the entertainment of the series by Australia.
If this series doesn’t show how amazing test cricket is, then I don’t know what will.