Neither parochialism nor jingoism is needed to appreciate India’s second Test triumph against Australia. They were blown away for their lowest score in history just a week ago, a shocked nation bearing mute witness. They were hit by numerous jolts to the batting line-up and suffered a crucial blow when they lost Mohammad Shami. It’s in this context that this team with a stand-in captain turned in a stand-out performance to achieve a wondrous result.
Why does this team move from one extreme to another? Forty-five minutes of doing-nothing in Adelaide, 45 minutes of doing-too-much at Manchester in the World Cup. That question also reveals why so much is expected from this team. If the batsmen get their act together, they have the bowlers to make this team a genuine world beater, especially once Hardik Pandya completes his bowling rehab to tussle with Ravindra Jadeja for the allrounder spot, or even push the third seamer, for that matter. The victory was a triumph of tactics too. From the five-bowlers strategy to the way Ajinkya Rahane used R Ashwin and the pacers. It comes down to the use of left-handed batsmen, a pet theme with the head coach Ravi Shastri. Jadeja and Rishabh Pant changed the tempo of the game in the first innings, encouraging Rahane also to open out more. The debutants, Siraj and Shubman Gill, showed they have the game to blossom at this level.
At the same time, victory should not blur reality. The Indian cricket team is not invincible, or ready for world conquest. This, in fact, was India’s first Test win — out of four attempts — this year. But after December 29, there is now a bold hope that they will turn a new leaf in the new year.