India's SCG hero Hanuma Vihari, who batted with extreme pain in the third Test against Australia to salvage a draw, feels India's series win versus AUS is their greatest ever. He also added that the Adelaide loss proved to be a blessing in disguise as it brought the players very close to each other.
India's triumph over Australia in extreme adverse situations will be talked about for a long period of time. They won the final Test at Australia's fortress Gabba, which wasn't breached since 1988, with only five first-choice players and scripted history as they won 2-1 to register their third back-to-back Border-Gavaskar trophy win. Not only dd India miss many players due to injuries, they were mid-game injuries in each of the Tests that further dented the side's chances.
One of the SCG heroes of India, Hanuma Vihari, who had batted with a hamstring tear against a searing Aussie attack bowling at full-throttle, to help India salvage a draw in the third Test, rated India's series win as their greatest' of all-time.
"It’s surreal, actually. Hard to put it in words. It’s the greatest series win for India, because of the circumstances. Playing against a quality team, the injuries, and bouncing back from 36/9 in Adelaide," Vihari told Indian Express.
He also revealed how the shambolic Adelaide loss in the Test series opener brought the team together and how Ravi Shastri told the team that they would treat the remainder of the series as a three-game affair.
"I don’t think we even had a meeting after the (Adelaide) game. I think the team management took a conscious call to not mention 36/9. The good thing was that we really bonded well and that helped us take our mind off cricket for a couple of days. In the lead-up to the Melbourne Test, Ravi bhai (Ravi Shastri), our head coach, told us that what happened in Adelaide was a one-off thing, and it would never happen again on the cricket field. ‘Let’s forget about it and treat this as a three-match series’. Looking back, that loss in Adelaide was a blessing as it brought us closer as a team," he quipped.
Vihari was a big part of the series win as he played a pivotal role in the SCG draw. He batted for 161 deliveries for his unbeaten 23* and, alongside R Ashwin, ensured that India didn't concede a lead to Australia going into the Gabba Test. Vihari revealed that only 'survival' was on his and Ashwin's mind and he knew that if he was dismissed, India's brittle lower-order would get exposed.
"We had only one option left (after Pujara-Pant dismissal), which was to stone-wall our way to a draw. Both Ashwin and I wanted to draw the game badly because the series was locked 1-1, and if either one of us was dismissed, it would have exposed our lower order. We knew we had to bat for three hours.
"When Ash (Ashwin) joined me at the crease, the only thing we talked about was to survive the next three hours. Initially, we didn’t have any plan in particular. But Ashwin was playing Nathan Lyon really comfortably, and I couldn’t stretch forward to play him because my hamstring was hurting. So, we decided that Ashwin would play out Lyon, while I would face the fast bowlers because I didn’t have to come forward to them as they (Australian pacers) were banging it short of a length."
The right-hander also admitted that his faulty shot selection let him down in the series, though his Day 5 effort in Sydney summed up his career in a nutshell.
"You’re correct (lack of big scores). I was in good batting form and had even scored a century in a warm-up game. I guess it just boiled down to my faulty shot selection. It had nothing to do with my technique. I just made the wrong choices at the wrong time. However, I think I have made up for it with that innings on Day 5 in Sydney.
"Absolutely. If I have to sum up my career in a nutshell, Day 5 in Sydney would be the perfect example. That’s what defines me. It’s been all about this grit and determination from my family who helped me reach where I am today."