The Long Forgotten Love for Test Cricket

Experience of a fan on the Historic win of India over Australia in the Border Gavaskar trophy 2020/21

36 runs… A number that Indians often see with pride with the face of Yuvraj Singh in his mind. Any Indian cricket fan would then jabber on about that innings followed by the inaugural T20 World Cup win in a time when we couldn’t picture an India squad without their cricket God. Never would we have thought that the same number would come back after 13 years and bring pain to one’s heart and it did happen and boy, it pained harsh.

The day was 19th December 2020 when Australian pace attack wrapped us up for 36 runs in our second innings and finished the test match in 3 days. It was sheer dominance and what daunted us most was the fact that we might have to watch this same colossal defeat again for 3 more tests as the top scorer and captain of our side as well as our 2nd highest ranked pacer was out of the remaining series. India against Australia, at Australia, the squad that prides themselves with top ranked pacers in Cummins, Hazelwood and Starc partnered along with one of India’s greatest predator Nathan Lyon (Lyon is the 3rd highest test wicket taker against India).

Kohli’s departure made Ajinkya Rahane the new captain for the series. It was from then, the world saw the actual beauty of test cricket. Test cricket in its core. Here was a captain who had been sidelined for the most part of IPL against one of the strongest side of modern cricket. Mockery was all around the air but the calm, resilient captain answered the doubters on the 2nd test when he scored century against the same bowling attack that had wrapped them up in the first test. The second test win, although was a boost to the team morale, it wasn’t still convincing for the cricketing world.

The remaining tests were still daunting but the cricketing gods had kept them late, for they were true lessons on test cricket… When one answered how a draw defended match is an ecstasy to watch, the other answered how a test match could be a thrilling, nail biting match.
Resilience. A word often forgotten in the modern world but brought before by the determined innings on the fifth day of third test by Hanuma Vihari and R. Ashwin. A partnership that lasted for 256 deliveries, almost an ODI innings and scoring a mere 64 runs!!! 64 runs in 42.4 overs! A relentless defense that fought off the damning pace, bouncers and cutters. A word has to be said about our test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara. People often misconnect him as the current Rahul Dravid. No, Pujara is a player of his own. I remember the criticism after his slow first innings when people complained that his slow strike rate is putting pressure on his supporting batsmen. It took 2 days for the criticisers to realise the importance of his defensive knock. Had it not been the case, how much more should have Vihari and Ashwin should have batted?

Then came the final test, a test in which India went with 5 specialist bowlers of which the most experience was M. Siraj who had his debut on the same test series. India was going without their strike bowler Bumrah and test specialist spinner Ashwin. How much worse can it be for Rahane! But he was confident, uncomprising, willing to take on an extra pacer so as to attack the Australians. Rahane was determined to beat the Australians at their fort Gabba, the arena where many legends have come and challenged the mighty Australians and never able to beat them since 1988 and what a test match that was!!!

India’s injury woes before the final Test.

Win, draw, lose… All three possibilities staring face to face in a series that is already tied 1-1. What more do you want to get yourself thrilled? A fitting climax to one of the best test series in the reason time. India’s hopes for win almost in narrow with almost 64 runs required of 13 overs and the only specialist batsman remaining is Rishab Pant who had often been criticised for his lack of form and sensible innings. I know it is unfair of me to compare him with a legend but the last player who has played Australians with this much ease was VVS Laxman and this series reminded Pant reminded of this legend (Also the fact that Laxman is a 4th innings specialist makes it even more exciting.)

As I write excited about the forth test I cannot or should not skip that innings played by Sundar and Thakur. How long had it been when India’s tailenders had fought with their batting? My last memory is that of Bhajji and Praveen Kumar’s ODI knock against Australia which brought almost close to the win. (Forgive me if I had missed any innings. Yes, there are century innings by Ashwin and one innings by Ishant, but still a tailender partnership?)

Border Gavaskar trophy 2020/21 must be one of the best test series in recent times. A test that was sheer team work. A test series where the top 2 wicket taker nor the run getter is not the winning team. How much more beautiful can a test series be… The forgotten glories of test cricket is back and I crave for more… This was the cricket that I fell in love with. The patient, passionate war that extended for 5 days with each sides fighting from all the sides. War… Yes, a war it is… It is the romance I invite the younger generation into. It’s the cricket I hope you enjoy, nurture and love. It is said that a true love is when you fall in love with all the aspects of your partner. Test for cricket is its greatest feature. Love and cherish it. It is worth it…

Written By DreamyGuy

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