No visiting side has breached ‘Fortress Gabba’ in 32 years, which means that it’s destined that the second string India ‘A’ team will walk away with the BG Trophy in precisely five days’ time. How they can win is something that’s been widely discussed, so we’ve thrown in a few ideas that could work.
Before we get into the spicy, never-seen-before gameplan(s), a bit of general information.
Where are India and Australia playing on Friday?
At the Gabba, Brisbane
What’s Australia’s record at the Gabba?
Overall record: P62 W40 D13 L8
Since January 1, 2000: P20 W16 D4 L0
The Aussies have not lost at the Gabba since 1988, which is why it is called their Fortress.
What’s India and Australia’s H2H record at the Gabba?
Australia lead 5-0 in 6 H2H matches (1 draw)
The last meeting between these two sides at the venue was in 2014, which Australia won by 4 wickets. Notably, it marked the debut of Josh Hazlewood.
How can India beat Australia in the fourth Test?
Good. We’ve finally arrived at the interesting part. Before we fully get to the gameplan though, here are a list of players I̶n̶d̶i̶a̶ India ‘A’ will be without, for the final Test starting Thursday
Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, and potentially Mayank Agarwal, Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah. Yes, 8 players who were part of the starting XI which lifted the Border-Gavaskar Trophy two years ago. So, is it really realistic for such a weakened Indian side to breach a fortress like the Gabba? We think so, and here are a few ways through which they can do the same.
Refuse to leave the hotel room and demand the contest be decided through a FIFA game
We already know the unacceptable treatment that’s currently been dished out to the Indian side in their hotel in Brisbane, so there is every reason for them to be agitated and refuse to play the final Test. Yet such a drastic measure will only lead to more Aussies claiming that they chickened out. Instead, the BCCI can lend a fair proposal to Cricket Australia - that of deciding the series through a set of FIFA games. This will take injuries out of the equation, level the playing field and bring parity, thereby making India favourites to beat the Aussies, half of whom still think that ‘Football’ refers to whatever rubbish that goes on in the AFL. We also have seen Rohit’s FIFA skills in the “Mutual Funds sahi hai” ad, so it will present Hitman with a golden opportunity for once to be of some use to the team away from home.
Demand the series be settled via a Super Over
The gloomy weather in Brisbane is currently indicating that a washout might be on the cards, which, should it happen, would be a real shame. But with valuable WTC points at stake, it would be prudent of the BCCI to bully CA into cancelling the fourth Test and making them agree to playing a Super Over to decide the series. At the Gabba, of course. Should the CA refuse, the BCCI can always threaten to terminate the IPL contracts of the Aussies with immediate effect. A Super Over will undoubtedly give India the edge, but it will also be the perfect conclusion to the tour, with both the hosts and the visitors having won 4 matches each thus far.
Request Australia to field an equally weak XI; threaten to pull out otherwise
Australia have raved about their improved ethics, morals and principles for close to two years now, but surely all of that is an eye-wash if they refuse to field a weakened XI come the fourth Test? Last I checked, ‘unintentionally’ injuring your opponents and taking them out of the contest does not equate to ‘playing it hard and fair’. Let Australia drop Smith, Hazlewood, Cummins, Starc, Wade and Lyon - we’ll then see how much of a fortress Gabba is.
Erase the guard mark of every Australian batsman in between every over
“Oh, sorry. Don’t mind. We were just visualizing. Anyone who has seen us play knows that we are weird creatures who are obsessed with batting.”
Pour oil in the Australian dressing room before lunch
Aw, man. There is nothing in sport that sucks more than ‘accidental’ injuries. Be a shame if someone slipped and got injured mid-game, wouldn’t it? Godforbid should that happen though, you suspect that it would test Australia’s ‘resolve’. I mean, after all India have gone through, the Aussies cannot even complain, can they?
Resort to legally dangerous tactics
We know Saini can do this and Shardul Thakur can do this, so how about having them do it in tandem until they are taken off the attack/field? Every Australian player escaping unscathed is the worst case scenario, but you know what they say - you miss every shot you don’t take. They can always get Ashwin and Sundar to, you know, bowl a lion’s share of the overs should things go haphazard. Just stack the team up with batsmen in this case, though.
The Final option
There is also one final option, although it would mean them conceding the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, and not breaching the Gabba fortress - just forfeit the damn game and go home. Seriously, India, it’s not worth it. Do it. You’ve shown enough fight and we’re all proud of you. Now go home before it comes to the point where you’ll have to field Sreesanth for the England Tests.