India tear down Gabba fortress to win epic Test series | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 20, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:38 AM, January 20, 2021

India tear down Gabba fortress to win epic Test series

Cheteshwar Pujara absorbed 11 blows to the helmet, hands and body in a stonewalling innings of 56. Rishabh Pant was more aggressive, mixing scoops, sweeps and slogs on his way to an unbeaten 89.

Together, they ushered India to a famous victory — retaining the Border-Gavaskar trophy with a stunning win in the fourth and final Test against Australia on Tuesday.

Pujara needed medical treatment and a new helmet in the middle session of day five but battled for 211 balls while Pant had stayed at the crease for 138 balls for his knock and hit the winning runs with a four down the ground off Josh Hazlewood.

India's most gruelling overseas Test tour was crowned with perhaps their most famous Test win as they overcame unimaginable odds and a more-fancied opponent in a win for the ages at the Gabba, what was flagged as Australia's  'fortress' since 1988.

Set 328 to win on a day-five pitch against one of the best all-round attacks Australia has fielded in modern times, India stormed to a three-wicket win with three overs to spare amid lengthening shadows and emotional celebrations as a socially distanced crowd of 5,624 fans danced and sang in triumph.

With the four-Test series tied 1-1, India needed only a draw to retain the trophy, but they accomplished so much more, handing the Australians their first defeat at the Gabba since 1988. It had been a stunning Indian effort to turn what were once slim prospects of victory into a realistic opportunity.

Australia had not been beaten at the Gabba since falling to Viv Richards' all-conquering West Indies side by nine wickets in November 1988. India's 329 for seven also smashed the 69-year-old record for the biggest run-chase at the ground, set by Australia who scored 236 for seven to beat the West Indies in 1951.

The Border-Gavaskar series win was a stunning turnaround. India were bundled down for a record low of 36 in Adelaide and regular skipper Virat Kohli left a demoralised team behind him as he returned home to attend the birth of his daughter.

Under Ajinkya Rahane, who inspired India's comeback with a captain's century in Melbourne, India levelled the series in Melbourne and drew in Sydney but had lost their entire frontline bowling attack to injuries by the time they arrived in Brisbane.

Washington Sundar and T Natarajan, retained as net bowlers, made their Test debut, helping India pull off a series victory for the ages after prevailing by three wickets in the decider.

India coach Ravi Shastri said an injury-ravaged India's 2-1 triumph in Australia under a stand-in captain will go down as one of the greatest series ever played.

"I'm not someone who really has tears in my eyes but I had real tears because this is unreal," Shastri told a video conference. "The penny has still not dropped, and it will take a long time to drop. Unreal."

Playing his first series, opener Shubman Gill laid the foundation for India's chase with a classy 91 and number three batsman Cheteshwar Pujara took several blows on his body and helmet during his obdurate 56. Rishabh Pant then smashed an unbeaten 89 to complete an epic series victory.

"What these guys have pulled off will go down in history as one of the greatest series ever played," Shastri said. "When you take the COVID situation and the spate of injuries into account, showing stomach for a fight after being bowled out for 36 is unimaginable."

Australian media called the win a "miracle.

WHAT THEY SAID

"You don't just play & love test cricket for nothing. Brilliant game. Congratulations India on the win, & Australia for a great series!"

Viv Richards, captain of the West Indies team

 who had been the last to win at the Gabba in 1988

"India's most famous series victory ever. Despite the win two years ago, in their heart of hearts they would have known without David Warner and Steve Smith it would have been just that little bit easy. Now that David Warner and Smith are there, this is the one."

Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar

"Every session we discovered a new hero. Every time we got hit, we stayed put & stood taller. We pushed boundaries of belief to play fearless but not careless cricket. Injuries & uncertainties were countered with poise & confidence."                        

India legend Sachin Tendulkar

 "To go to Australia and win a Test series in this way ..will be remembered in the history of Indian cricket forever."

Former India captain and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly

"You can't speak highly enough of India; it is as simple as that."                               

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting

"That's as good a Test match win as I can remember. I can't remember a better Test match win in recent times."

Aussie legend Shane Warne

"WHAT A WIN!!! Yessssss. To everyone who doubted us after Adelaide, stand up and take notice. Exemplary performance but the grit and determination was the standout for us the whole way. Well done to all the boys and the management. Enjoy this historic feat lads."

India captain Virat Kohli

"Wow .. That has to go down as one of the greatest if not the greatest Test victory of all time !! Egg on my face over here in the UK .. but I love to see character & skill .. India have it in abundance"       

Former England captain Michael Vaughan

"Test cricket's heart is beating strongly! That was an extraordinary win @BCCI & a fantastic series to watch. Aussies not lost at The Gabba since 1988. Wow"

England fast bowler Stuart Broad

"One of the greatest Test series wins ever. Congrats India and well played Australia, what a series."

Google's Indian-born chief executive Sundar Pichai

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