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Australia flounders as India emerges leader in Twenty20 & Test cricket

Melbourne, January 8: India made history led by a talismanic Virat Kohli by completing a maiden 2-1 series victory in Test cricket on Australian soil while the Rain God helped Australia draw the last test at a sodden SCG.

Indian team take a ‘lap of honour’ at SCG after Test series win

India made history ending a 71 year wait for a golden chapter in Indian Test cricket.

It is a rare first for India since Lala Amarnath’s team visited faced Sir Don Bradman and team back in 1947-48 months.

India has had 11 previous attempts, but never won a Test cricket series in Australia. This historic win ends a slump since the first crushing defeat in 1948.

After wins in Adelaide and Melbourne, India with the 2-1 series lead had retained and was going home with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, irrespective of the outcome at SCG.

India had a fair chance to a 3-1 victory margin with a massive 622 in the first innings but play was eventually abandoned, without a ball being bowled, at 2.30pm on day five of the fourth Test at SCG.

Although a low-key end to India’s maiden Test series win in Australia, as the Indian team took a ‘lap of honour’ at the SCG, both Australian and Indian fans cheered.

Cheteshwar Pujara was named Man of the series – the pillar of the Indian batting order in Aus v India Test cricket

Indian fans cheered, sang and danced and waved Indian flags despite rains and bad light affecting through to the third day at the SCG.

Kohli and teammates celebrated by thanking fans and supporters who had stuck around despite the bad weather.

“This is history and a terrific moment for Indian cricket,” said India’s greatest opener Sunil Gavaskar.

India batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was named man of the match and man of the series after his key role in India’s 2-1 series win.

Pujara scored centuries in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

Indians led by magnificent series from “The Wall’ Pujara and outstanding slinger Jasprit Bumrah, tore apart the Australians struggling without suspended Steve Smith and David Warner on the team.

With this win, India has proven that the country has got the right system as the pioneer of T20 cricket yet maintained a strong Test team.

“Fast bowlers become more accurate and middle order-batsmen become stronger and wiser,” said former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra, who is currently in Australia as a commentator.

Chopra believes that it is about executing high-quality skill under immense pressure, and Indian cricketers have gained from it.

“Eleven seasons of the IPL have shown that it’s possible to have the best T20 league in the world and simultaneously become the No.1 Test side in the world.

“The moment the sheen of the IPL performances wore off with regards to their importance for selection in other formats, it was proven that both could happily co-exist,” Chopra wrote in the Age.

Indian pace trio – Jasprit Bumrah, Md Shami & Ishant Sharma

Undoubtedly, cricketers like Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav have trained well for other formats, through the T20 format.

Chopra gives a lot of credit to the Board of Control for Cricket in India “for keeping the priorities right.

“The Indian domestic circuit follows a set pattern in which white-ball cricket and red-ball cricket never overlap…

“Even the best players find it difficult to move seamlessly between formats and therefore, it’s only fair that first-class cricketers aren’t burdened with that expectation”.

Chopra compares this seamless with a rather hop-scotch approach in Australian cricket, where Shield cricket is scheduled on either side of the BBL.

“The issue becomes even more glaring because Australia is hosting Test cricket and if there’s no Shield cricket on, selectors get forced to either pick players on four-day numbers from last month or their recent returns in the BBL.

“It can’t be ideal for both the selectors and also for the players like Peter Handscomb who get dropped from the Test side but hope to rediscover form in the BBL”.

Chopra also highlights the case of “insulated age-group cricketers from T20 cricket”.

BCCI does not organise any T20 competition for Under-16s, under-19s and under-23s and Chopra feels that “this goes a long way in developing correct fundamentals at the right age.

“The likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Bumrah and Kuldeep learnt their craft playing long-form cricket since they were 14 or younger”.

But there is one catch – “there are only certain skills that come to the fore… demands from openers and spinners in the shortest format are radically opposite to what’s expected of them in Tests,” feels Chopra.

I felt that while IPL would help nurture our fast bowlers and middle-order batsmen, it would affect the openers and spinners for Test cricket”.

Raj Kumar

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