As the curtains came rolling down to signal the conclusion of an eventful, exciting and exhilarating series at Melbourne on Friday, it is difficult to refrain from enjoying the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream. This visit to Australia added a glorious chapter to India’s cricket history filling a void that existed for decades in the bilateral series.
For the first time India won the Test series and ODI series on the Aussie soil by a 2-1 margin. Capping the whole exercise was the wonderful seven wicket triumph at Melbourne in a nerve-wracking final game that ended with four balls remaining on Friday.
Till the 44th over it was a touch and go situation with the home team enjoying the edge. But the two at the crease, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadav, displayed their pugnacity in an emphatic manner to tilty the scales in the space of next five overs.
Looking back on the long and arduous full tour featuring all format, starting from the third week of November, T-20 which ended in a 1-1 score, and three test contests that India won at 3-1 and the three ODIs which India won 2-1 after losing the opening game at Sydney.
One lost count of the milestones crossed during the tour. He high point was the three hundreds in Test series by Chiteshwar Pujara, the 39th ODI century by Virat Kohli equalling the record of Sachin, the 10000th run of MS Dhoni who turned in a few superlative knocks in the ODIs and record number of victims behind the wicket by Rishab Pant are a few noteworthy achievements.
High above all was the fact that Kohli became the first and only captain to achieve a series victory in Australia since the first tour in 1947.
The outcome and the form displayed by leading lights including MS Dhoni at No 4 was striking. The victory at Melbourne yesterday was built on his experience, expertise, and efficiency in the company of Kedar Jadhav.
There was some concern when Kohli was caught behind off J. Richardson after a century partnership that facilitated this magnificent victory.
It must also be admitted that the stellar role played by the leg spinner Yazuvendra Chahal that limited the rival to a modest total. His six for 42 was a superb effort. He extracted the best from the pitch by his spin and turn and used the flight imaginatively.
One wondered why he was not considered before in the series. But it was a pity that his record in the Test was anything but striking. On Friday, he proved his class without a hint of doubt. Bhubaneshwar Kumar gave India a good start dismissing the openers with only 28 runs on the board. He was well assisted by Mohammad Shami.
Undeniably, the tour was a humiliating experience for the home team which rarely lose a home series in any format. The events only confirmed that Australian cricket is passing through a difficult phase consequent to the suspension imposed on its top stars for their disgraceful involvement in the ball tampering controversy during the South Africa tour.
It is hoped that the balance would be restored before the next World Cup in England this June.
Player Of The Series: M S Dhoni
Man Of The Match: Y Chahal.