This Indian team is made of steely resolve. Weakened by injuries, and playing on a ground where it has traditionally struggled, the side has fought tooth and nail to give the Aussies a run for their money in the series decider.
The growing list of injuries forced the Indian management to field two more newcomers in the Brisbane test, taking the total number of debutants in this series for India to five. The team’s five bowlers had played a grand total of four tests between them before the start of this game. The mighty Aussies would steamroll such an inexperienced side, everyone thought. But it wasn’t meant to be.
As has happened so often in the series, someone put their hand up and bailed the side when the chips were down. When India were at a precarious 186 for 6 in the first innings, debutant Washington Sundar and one-test-old Shardul Thakur dug in and hit half centuries, thereby ensuring that Australia didn’t enjoy a strong first innings lead. Thakur in particular has been exceptional, with a tally of 67 runs and 7 wickets in the match.
And what a series it’s been for young Mohammed Siraj. The 26-year-old lost his father at the start of the tour but chose to stay back with the team. He then went on to make his test debut at Melbourne, and two tests later was tasked with leading the bowling attack. How did he respond? By bagging a five-wicket haul in the second innings.
Social media heaped praise on the Indian team’s performance…
Just when you thought India’s resistance had finally broken, comes a fightback as stirring as it is unexpected. Irrespective of what happens in this Test, this team has shown itself to be the toughest-ever Indian team #INDvAUS
— Sambit Bal (@sambitbal) January 17, 2021
From Net bowlers arrived for practice to highest scorers in the innings.
We have to stand up and appreciate one of the greatest fightbacks on Australian land. #INDvAUS#GabbaTest pic.twitter.com/35g1rSugRL
— Aniruddh Singh (@Anirudd22527427) January 17, 2021
Extremely impressed with the fighting attitude shown by @Sundarwashi5 and @imShard. They have symbolised what India has been in this series, consistently punching above their weight. It is so satisfying to see.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) January 17, 2021
This was not just cricket, it was gallantry excellence on a sports field. Hats off! pic.twitter.com/bP6c4QXRWr
— Vijay Shankar (@vijayshankar260) January 17, 2021
Sundar and Shardul have epitomized India’s never say die spirit on this fascinating series. Next man up mentality should inspire many other teams never to give in or up.
— Ian bishop (@irbishi) January 17, 2021
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) January 17, 2021
Lost his father. But chose to stay in Australia.
Got racially abused….but didn’t let that affect him.
Became the leader of the attack in only his third Test. And he’s taken a five-for. Love and respect for you Siraj. 👏👏 #AusvInd
— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) January 18, 2021
Well done Mohd. Siraj on your 1st fifer and @imShard on your important all round performance which has kept the Test rather interesting so far and more importantly, the Test series alive. #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/tXmLP2c9FN
— Sachin Tendulkar (@sachin_rt) January 18, 2021
The boy has become a man on this tour. Siraj, Leader of the attack in his first Test series and he has led from.the front. The way newcomers have performed for India on this tour will be etched in memories for a long long time. Will be fitting if they retain the trophy. pic.twitter.com/8bRvMI1iwR
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) January 18, 2021
“You’ll end up with a five-wicket haul in this Test series. Your father’s dua (blessing) is with you,” is what the two head coaches had told Mohammad Siraj when he went for practice following his dad’s passing. Two months later. A Star is Born #AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/juxfZEJUe9
— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) January 18, 2021
One of the many incredible stories of Team India is that of Mohd Siraj..
To lose your father, stay back in Aus, make your India debut, pick up 5 wickets.. and do it with a smile all through.. super stuff! Well done Siraj! #INDvsAUS
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) January 18, 2021
India either need to chase down 328, or bat out the entire fifth day to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy. The ask is tall, but this team has made a habit of defying odds in this series. Of course, there is also a chance that the rain gods might offer some help. Tomorrow promises to be a mouth-watering final day of the series.