Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team have created plenty of history in their recent tour of Australia. They won Tests in Adelaide and Melbourne and when rain ruined the Sydney Test, India had created history when they became the first Asian side to ever win a Test series Down Under. More history was created in the New Year as Kohli’s band of cricketers beat Australia 2-1 to secure a bilateral ODI series win for the first time. In addition to the 3-0 Twenty20 whitewash in 2016 and the 2008 tri-series win under MS Dhoni, India became only the second side after South Africa to win a series in all formats Down Under.
From the Twenty20 Internationals till the final ODI in Melbourne, there were plenty of contributions from players. Each member played a vital part in India breaking their overseas jinx and finally turning the tide when it came to performances overseas. Following the end of a tour where India did not lose a series in a single format, here are some of the memorable instances of the tour.
1.) Australia bogged down by the Great Wall of Pujara
They bowled short. They bowled full. They tried to swing the ball. They tried to frustrate him. Nothing worked. Cheteshwar Pujara was in the zone when it came to batting in Australia. His century in Adelaide and his fifty in the second innings was the difference maker for India as they won the first match of a series Down Under for the first time. When Australia got him out at Perth cheaply, it was the only time they won. His ton on a difficult Melbourne wicket ensured India had the Border-Gavaskar Trophy back and his 193 in Sydney was the icing on the cake. 521 runs at an average of 74 with three tons. India win series 2-1. Australia had failed to breach India’s new Great Wall.
2.) Rishabh Pant – making sledging enjoyable again
"Have you ever heard of a temporary captain, ever, Mayank? Not everyone is like Pujara here”. “Come on Patty, we need some sixes now”. India were now mastering Australia in their own game and Rishabh Pant had takente internet by storm with his chirping. His sledging, combined with his keeping and batting, gave plenty of value to India. His world record 11 catches in Adelaide, over 20 catches in a bilateral series gave Kohli plenty of assurance. He also let the bat do the talking, becoming the first Indian keeper to hit a century in Australia. In 2018/19, Pant had mentally disintegrated Australia and made sledging enjoyable.
3.) MS Dhoni – Finisher no more finished?
He was slammed for his slow 51 in Sydney that resulted in India losing the match by 34 runs. Following on his poor run in 2018, the knives were sharpened. The critics were baying for Dhoni’s blood. How did Captain Cool respond? In Adelaide 2019, just like he had done in 2012, he blasted a six and got India over the line in a tough chase. In Melbourne, he slammed his third consecutive fifty and gave another masterclass to help India clinch the game at the MCG and win the series. With 193 runs at a strike-rate of over 80 and an average of 193, Dhoni showed the finisher was not finished, not just yet though.
4.) Bumrah, Shami and Ishant – The holy trinity of deadly fast bowlers
After the end of the MCG Test which India had won after 37 years, a stat made the round. Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma were now greater than Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall as well as Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander. An Indian pace trio dominating the world charts? It would have been impossible to picture that 20 years ago. In 2018, Bumrah, Shami and Ishant created a new record for most wickets in a calendar year. Bumrah, in particular, enhanced his reputation Down Under with a brilliant spell of bowling and his 6/33 put India on course for a splendid series win.
5.) Bhuvneshwar Kumar – Swing like a King
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, India needed an experienced hand in the ODIs and they found one in Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He got Aaron Finch in all the three games with the inswinger and never allowed him to settle. His spell of 4/45 in Adelaide was the key factor in India restricting Australia to under 300. Had it not been for Bhuvi’s spell, the series result could well have tilted in Australia’s favour. His ability to swing the ball and get the early breakthroughs on a consistent basis was key in India not allowing Australia to capitalise in the powerplay. In the decider, his two wickets helped Yuzvendra Chahal take 6/42, the joint-best figures by a bowler in ODIs in Australia.