Indian skipper Ajinkya Rahane, whose cameo on Day 5 sent a message to the Aussies that India were going for the win, revealed that he consciously batted with aggression to set up the chase for the lower middle-order. Rahane also credited Pujara, whose resilience yet again broke Australia down.
On a crumbling Day 5 wicket at the Gabba, chasing a stern target of 328 seemed like a next-to-impossible task, and for a long while, it did look like India would be content with a draw. Young Shubman Gill shifted gears post lunch before falling agonizingly short of a maiden ton, but while many suspected that India would love to just bat out the overs, skipper Ajinkya Rahane’s thumping cameo made it clear that they were going for the kill.
Coming in at 132/2, with India nearly 200 adrift of the target with just over 50 overs left in the day, Rahane struck a whirlwind 22-ball 24 that not only rocked the Aussies but sent a message that the visitors were ready to risk it all in their quest to conquer Gabba. Eventually, Rahane fell cheaply, but the positivity his knock injected enabled Rishabh Pant and the rest of the batters to seal the country its most famous Test series win in history.
Speaking in the post match presentation, the stand-in Indian skipper revealed that he consciously adhered to an aggressive approach to set a platform for the batsmen below him to chase the target down.
“We just wanted to give our best, not to think about the result. When I went in, conversation between me and Pujara was Puji to bat normal and me to go for my shots, because we knew Rishabh and Mayank were there. Credit to Pujara, the way he handled the pressure was magnificent, and Rishabh was brilliant in the end,” the Indian skipper said.
However, as much as the historic win on Tuesday was about India’s batting, it was the rookie bowlers who set up the game for the hosts. Despite boasting a combined experience of just 4 Tests heading into the game, Siraj, Saini, Natarajan, Thakur, and Sundar took 20 Australian wickets with relative ease to ensure that they gave the batsmen a fair chance of not just saving the Test, but also sealing a win. Rahane credited the bowlers and insisted that taking 20 wickets was what, eventually, made the difference.
“Taking 20 wickets was the key, that's what we identified, that's why we picked five bowlers. Washington Sundar got that balance for us, intention was to play five bowlers. Siraj had played two Test matches, Saini one, Thakur one, Natarajan also on debut, all credit to them.”
After stooping to an all-time low in Adelaide, getting bowled out for 36, India were expected to endure a whitewash, yet the side, led by Rahane, bounced back in the most mind-numbing fashion, against all odds, to remarkably win the series and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Rahane couldn’t gather words to describe the historic feat and singled out the team’s spirit as the single biggest reason behind the turnaround.
"It really means a lot to us. I don't know how to describe this victory. I'm just proud of all the boys, each and every individual. We just wanted to give our best. After Adelaide we didn't discuss about what happened, we just wanted to play our game, show good attitude, show good character on the field. It was all about the team effort.”
With the win, India now have one foot in the World Test Championship final.