5 best performances from the India v Australia Test Series 2018-19
The recently concluded four-test series between India and Australia for the coveted Border-Gavaskar Trophy has gone emphatically in favor of Team India by a scoreline of 2-1, paving the way for India to register its maiden series triumph down under. History has been made by Virat Kohli and his troops, and this was mainly due to some excellent individual performances both in the batting and bowling departments. However, Australia have a few positive takeaways as well, although they did not have the firepower to dominate India as a unit.
Here are the five best performances from the series:
5. Rishabh Pant (Fourth Test, Sydney)
The Indian gloveman from Roorkee has made a stellar start to his test career, both in terms of wicketkeeping and batting. He broke the record for the most catches by an Indian wicketkeeper in a test match and is the joint-record holder with Jack Russell and AB de Villiers for most catches by a keeper (11), in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval. However, he was giving notable handy performances with the willow also, by way of a few swift cameo knocks.
But it was his quick 159 not out at the fourth Test in Sydney that aided Cheteshwar Pujara’s mammoth innings and got India to a total over 600. Pant, along with Ravindra Jadeja, later went on to pile the misery on a tired set of Aussie bowlers, and was instrumental in making sure India would not lose the Test and thus forego an opportunity to win the series. It was the first century by an Indian keeper in Australia.
4. Pat Cummins (Third Test, Melbourne)
Easily Australia’s best performer from the Test Series, Aussie fast bowler Pat Cummins troubled the Indian batsmen to a great extent by plucking 14 wickets at a good average of 27.78. Although Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were expected to rampage the Indian batting, Cummins proved to be the best bowler, with his brilliant spells that often worried Kohli and others. His patient batting put the Aussie top order to shame, as was evident from his overall tally of 163 runs at a decent 23.28.
But, it was his performance in the Boxing Day Test at the fabled MCG that really stood out. His three wickets in the first innings were the lone consolation for Australia, and as Kohli bizarrely opted not to enforce the follow on, after the Aussies were bundled out for 151 in response to India’s 443, Cummins prised out six Indian wickets for a meager 27 runs and created an incredible amount of panic. The New South Welshman, in a valiant effort with the bat in the second innings, managed 63 runs with the bat, which was to be his team’s only half-century in the entire match.
3. Jasprit Bumrah (Third Test, Melbourne)
One of the best pacers in the business today, Jasprit Bumrah, the pacer from Gujarat, has been a precious find for Team India. He burst onto the scenes in the Indian Premier League and found his way into the national team after some great performances for Mumbai Indians. Ever since he has been a thorn in the opposing sides with his incisive and smart bowling. His ability to bowl at a rapid pace, even from a small run-up, has surprised many a cricketing pundit.
Supported by Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami, Bumrah ran riot on a seemingly innocuous Melbourne pitch that offered literally nothing for his Australian counterparts. His figures of 6-33 were the best by an Indian bowler at the MCG. His three-wicket haul in the second innings delivered a match tally of 9-86 and that proved to be the decisive element in India’s win at the iconic ground. India’s premier bowler also unsurprisingly grabbed the Man of the Match.
2. Nathan Lyon (Second Test, Perth)
The 31-year old spinner from New South Wales is arguably one of the most underrated bowlers in international cricket. Even though he does not offer too many variations as Ravi Ashwin does, Lyon, with his canny flight and persistence, is a force to reckon with in test cricket. His ability to bowl continuously along the same channel, enticing the batsmen for a drive, is commendable. On a drop-in surface at the new Optus Stadium in Perth, traditionally regarded as a pacer paradise, Kohli opted to play without a specialist spinner. That decision proved to bite India badly, as Lyon put on a spirited show that proved to be the core element in Australia leveling the series.
Lyon picked up eight wickets in the match, including a five-wicket haul in the first innings, which made India concede a vital lead. In the second innings, he kept one end tight and made key breakthroughs including the wickets of Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay. He came handy with the bat, on many occasions too, across the length of the series.
1. Cheteshwar Pujara (First test, Adelaide)
The man from Saurashtra is the true heir to Rahul Dravid’s throne. Hailed by Ian Chappell and others as the best blunter of a bowling attack, Pujara is known for his no-nonsense approach to batting. His concentration, application, patience and shot selection are second to none, and the timid one-down was the key difference between India and Australia. His batting prowess came to the fore when India found itself reeling on 86 with half the side back in the pavilion, on the first morning of the series. Starc and co were breathing fire and giving it all to uproot the Indian batting, only to be thwarted by a lion-hearted effort from Cheteshwar Pujara. His knock of 123 was crucial in India reaching a respectable total, and eventually, the Indian bowlers complemented Pujara by knocking Australia out for less than the Indian first innings score.
He had the able support of Rishabh Pant, and with only tailenders remaining, he notched up his 16th test ton, equaling Sourav Ganguly’s record. Pujara scored one impressive knock after another, enabling the Numero Uno side to create history in Australia, and was deservedly the Player of the Series.
Cover picture credits: myKhel Hindi