328 runs as a target - on Day 5 of the Gabba Test, the rain gods weren’t favouring a result, the odds were stacked against the visitors yet it was Australia under the pump. Their home record, their aggression and everything in between were broken by the Indian attack and the resilience.
The Australian summer of Pat Cummins
Bryan Adams might have got away with platinum for his single ‘Summer of 69’ but Pat Cummins has struck the ultimatum. Adam’s song is about a dilemma between settling down or trying to become a rock star but Cummins has made sure that his song is only about him establishing his status as the rock star. In the Australian summer now, after having started under the pump for his IPL performance, the New South Welsh pacer has ripped apart the perception and stomped down his authority. He has been a relentless workhorse this series and the numbers are pretty much not going to lie.
Cummins has been everywhere, the wickets column, applying pressure and more certainly a marvellous strike-rate - 20 wickets at 20.20 and a strike-rate of 47.6. While he might have not picked up a fifer thus far in the series, his unwavering presence in the bowling attack alongside Josh Hazlewood has ensured that Australia have always been kept in the loop. On the fifth day morning, nothing seemed to have unfurled in a different manner - it was yet again Cummins and his relentless attitude which challenged the duo of Cheteshwar Pujara and Rohit Sharma. The corridor of uncertainty is a hard line and length to hit but Cummins not only has mastered it but has also seemed to be living there rent-free.
Shubman Gill orchestrates Australian chin-music
Bowling short deliveries - is an obsession for some and a way to surprise the batsmen for the others. But for Australia, it was the last resort on a pitch that didn’t offer them much swing. An aged old tradition of bodyline bowling embodies Australian culture more than anything but at fortress Gabba, the sweet chin music turned into a bitter experience for them. And the person who orchestrated the nightmare was none other than Shubman Gill, who for the large part of his life thrived on the short-deliveries. When the length went short, he went long, the ball in equal measures travelled at Ravi Shastri’s own ‘tracer-level’ speed. The Fazilka-born cricketer’s entire sporting life has been surrounded by words such as class, talent and potent.
On Tuesday, he showed more, he showed the entire world that he wasn’t just another talent trying to live up to the bill. He wanted to show he had arrived and stomp his mark as not just an outrageous talent but as India’s best batsmen. Shubman did just that, didn’t mince up his shots or emotion with just 3% as false shots. With a control stated around 95%, the Punjab opener slew the chin music and orchestrated it into a masterpiece. Despite having played just three games in the series, the right-hander has already statistically been the best Indian batsmen in the tour.
At any other venue, the crowd would have gone frolicking at the sight of his dazzling performance but in Australia, it merely motivated a single soul into belief, until today, when he walked back at Gabba to rousing applause. Shubman no longer is a talent, he is now on his verge of entering into the elite group.
New India doesn’t back away from a contest
At the start of the day, the best possible result for India, looking at the misbehaviour from the pitch was a draw. But that was never going to be as easy as calling it, with the Australian bowlers always in the game with the cracks in the pitch. However, as shown time and again in this series, they were never giving up, as expressed multiple times during the fourth Test by the multiple Indian cricketers in the presser. With rains too predicted, it was always going to be a testing time for both sides and if rains didn’t fall down, the total was going to be under the scanner. Nothing has suggested separating these two sides thus far in the series, with the series locked in at 1-1.
India had to debut two net-bowlers - Natarajan and Washington Sundar had to give an opportunity to their seamer, who was making his second appearance - Shardul Thakur. Down on one leg at 186/6, the visitors fought back, putting up a challenging total of 336 to get them back in the game. They followed it up with a scintillating performance, the best in the last three decades - to bowl the hosts out in both innings of the total. Yet somehow, they needed 327 runs - to chase down a historic total. They negotiated a tricky passage and again found a target - too dooming to chase in the 95+ overs on the day when Rohit Sharma was dismissed.
The pendulum has never swung this wide, Shubman Gill kept India in the loop and Cummins has for Australia. In between it, somehow, walks in Mitchell Starc, who throws the game open, tilting it in India’s favour. Hazlewood kept nagging but nothing prevailed, words were exchanged but it meant zilch. Actions speak louder than words, Indian management knew it, the Indian cricket team knew it and they were out to fulfil it. Pant stood, Pujara stood, Washington Sundar stood and all of them together delivered. Gabba hadn't been breached but now, it has not just been breached but has bruised the Australian cricket team. Tim Paine talked, sledged and yet when the time came, he flopped. Rattled at home are Australia and India are the ones who inflicted it.