Australia coach Justin Langer has claimed that Rishabh Pant’s unbeaten 89* at the Gabba today felt like an unwanted callback to Ashes 2019, where Ben Stokes single-handedly flayed Australia at Headingley. Langer heaped praise on India for their mental fortitude that enabled a historic win.
Australia averted a Rishabh Pant storm at the SCG by dismissing the youngster just in time before he got the chance to take the game away from them, but today at the Gabba, they fell victim to the willow of the vicious 23-year-old. Chasing 328 on a deteriorating Day 5 wicket, India were expected to play out a draw, yet, walking in at 162/3, Rishabh Pant had other ideas. Like he did a week ago, Pant, remarkably, took the game to the Australian bowlers from the get-go and, astonishingly, against all odds, took the team over the line. The youngster struck an unbeaten 89* to help India not just win the series 2-1, but also breached the Gabba fortress and registered the most historic win in the country’s history.
Few have been repeatedly at the other end of freakish, once-in-a-lifetime knocks like Justin Langer, and speaking post the game, the Australia head coach revealed that Pant’s masterclass on Tuesday reminded him of Ben Stokes’ evening of madness at the Headingley two years ago.
“It was an amazing effort. Pant’s innings reminded me of Ben Stokes at Headingley, actually. He came in, he was fearless and he will be lauded because of it. Unbelievable innings. I thought Young Gill batted really well, I thought their young bowling attack kept us under pressure the whole game. And as I say, India deserve full credit,” Langer told 7 Cricket.
Tuesday marked India’s second consecutive Test series win on Australian soil, yet it is already being widely considered the greatest victory in the country’s history, for the simple fact that the side overcame a number of adversities and challenges on the way before climbing the hill. Aside from being without the services of incumbent skipper Virat Kohli, India also lost half the side to injury, and began the series by registering their lowest ever Test total, before completing a magical turnaround. Langer was full of praise for the visitors, who now have one foot into the World Test Championship final.
“Never ever ever underestimate the Indians. There’s 1.5 billion Indians. If you play in that first XI, you gotta be really tough. 11 players out of 1.5 billion people. I can’t compliment India enough. They haven’t gone away after the first Test match that we won in 3 days and bowled them out for 36. For them to fight back like they did is amazing - credit to them. The big lesson for us is that you never take anything for granted,” Langer said.
The series defeat was Australia’s first on home soil since incidentally losing to India in 2018, but the Australian coach admitted that his men were well and truly outplayed by a champion side. Langer claimed that the ‘real winner’ that emerged from this series was Test cricket, and further assured that his side will learn lessons aplenty from the defeat.
“What I make of it is that it was an incredible Test series. Test cricket is the winner. Yeah, it’s gonna hurt us big time, but India deserve full credit, they’ve been outstanding. My gosh they’re tough. But we’ll learn a lot of lessons from this.”
Australia’s next assignment will be a three-match Test series against the Proteas in February.