The first-ever Asian team to win a series in Australia will forever be etched with Virat Kohli’s side.
Four Test games, two victories, one defeat, and a draw helped the Indian team in earning a historical 2-1 series triumph Down Under, which also helped the Indians retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Here are the 5 talking points from the month-long journey towards greatness:
The arrival of Pujara
The series belonged to one man, Cheteshwar Pujara. 521 runs, three tons and 1258 deliveries faced over a month-long period helped wear down the Aussie bowling side. The fact that Pujara was struggling to hold on to his place – even being dropped for a game in England – shows how monumental his achievements were. After scoring 100 runs in South Africa, Pujara needed a breakthrough tour of England, but only 278 runs did not do justice to his potential. However, he rose like a phoenix in the series in Australia, amassing more than 500 runs and stealing the limelight away from Kohli, which is no mean feat. With a series to remember, Pujara emerges as the biggest talking point.
Mayank Agarwal arrives on the big scene
The Karnataka player had been piling on runs by the dozens in India A tours for a while now, but the coveted spot in Test XI eluded him. He was called up for the series against West Indies but was dropped for the series in Australia without getting a game. However, with Prithvi Shaw injured, Mayank was recalled and boy, did he make his chances count! The player scored 195 runs in 3 innings with an average of 65. The tally includes two 70+ scores as well, and it is safe to say that India has finally found a reliable opener they were on the lookout for.
Kuldeep takes to Test cricket with elan
There were questions over Kuldeep’s effectiveness as a Test player, especially in overseas conditions. The 24-year-old, who had played only a lone overseas match – at Lord’s earlier in 2018 – was included for the game at Sydney. He revealed in his role, registering his career-best figures of 5/99. With the chinaman coming into his own, India now have a problem of plenty in the department as Jadeja and Ashwin have been impressing with their performances as well.
Rishabh Pant secures the keeper’s slot
Pant averaged only 27 in England and though he did score a hundred in the series, his performances were very inconsistent. He had managed a score of 92 in the series against Windies, but he seemed to lack the mindset that differentiated a Test player from an ODI one. However, he quashed all complaints with his unbeaten 159 at Sydney – an innings that was defined for its calmness. He seems to have grown with experience and can be termed as a huge asset going forward.
The emergence of Kohli the skipper
While Kohli the batsman was in fine form, Kohli the captain was in the news for his blunders and errors in tactic-making. His team selections in the tours to South Africa and England were questioned and it was imperative that the player had a flawless series as a leader. This is exactly what panned out Down Under, where, apart from the game at Perth where he failed to read the pitch, he had an almost-flawless series. His field placements were impeccable, the way he attacked Travis Head in the first game and Marnus Labuschagne by pushing the field up and his inability to back his players all proved that Kohli the leader has finally come of age.