“Every session we discovered a new hero,” he said of how an untested and inexperienced team, which had so little going for it, managed one of the greatest victories in Test cricket. “Every time we got hit, we stayed put and stood taller. We pushed the boundaries of belief to play fearless but not careless cricket.”
The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, congratulated the team for its “stellar intent, remarkable grit and determination” in retaining the Border-Gavaskar trophy and defeating Australia at the Gabba fortress for the first time 33 years.
The celebrations in India were all the sweeter because the victory was so unexpected. Many Indians expected little after Australia won the first Test match, in which India were bowled out for a humiliating 36 runs, their lowest ever Test total.
Any comeback from that rout would have to be on an epic scale, but the Australian team were at full strength. In contrast, the debilitated Indian side had numerous top bowlers missing. Many players were playing a Test match for the first time. The team was beset by injuries.
For sports journalist Jaydeep Basu, the very fact that India triumphed despite having nothing going for it proved a “coming of age”, not only for several players such as Mohammed Siraj and Cheteshwar Pujara, but for Indian cricket itself.
“The result showed the depth of Indian cricketing talent. All the vast sums of money that have been spent on recruiting players from small towns and training them is now paying off. We’ve shown that young untested players can do spectacularly well,” said Basu
In line with Basu’s comment, many writers spoke of how “the boy has become a man” with reference to Siraj and Washington Sundar and how the former had overcome the odds (his father was an auto-rickshaw driver) to play for India.
Former cricketer Sunil Gavaskar praised the team for giving India “a magical moment”, saying: “They were not prepared to just save the game. They were wanting to go out and finish the tour in a blaze of glory. Young India has done it. Young India has shown the way. Young India is showing that they are not afraid.”
Referring to the injuries – several head blows and a bent finger – suffered by Pujara, he said: “He put his body on the line for Indian cricket”.
The headlines – “India pulls off one of the greatest heists in Australia”, “Plunder Down Under” – were euphoric.
While many Indians saw their team’s victory as the simple result of a stunning display of character and skill, others called it poetic justice for Australian complacency. “India has many players injured but what has been injured more has been the Australian arrogance and pride,” tweeted former cricketer Virendra Sehwag.
The jibe “See you at the Gabba”, which Australian skipper Tim Paine hurled at Ravichandran Ashwin on the final day of the third Test at Sydney, was mocked mercilessly on Twitter. “Yes we did Mr Paine, yes we did!” read one tweet. Ashwin’s wife, Prithi, who had to see her husband play despite bad back pain, settled for: “WooohooooooHAHAHAHHAAHHAAHAHAHAHHASHHAAHAHHA.”