How Rishabh Pant and Shubman Gill-starrer Team India breached Gabba?

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Jagruti Panda: It was 19th January, 2021 when 23-year-old Rishabh Pant notched up one of India’s most historic Test victories in Australia when the young wicketkeeper batter breached Aussies’ pride i.e. The Gabba. Men in Blue scripted history for the ages on 19th Jan, 2021 and clinched their 2nd consecutive Border Gavaskar Trophy from down under.

The injury-afflicted Men in Blue played their final match at the iconic Gabba in Brisbane sans Virat Kohli, Ravindra Jadeja and Jasprit Bumrah. The team included two debutants in their playing XI and were not looked upon as favourites.

A ton from Marnus Labuschagne helped Australia post a total of 369 on board in their first innings. In response, the visitors were struggling at 186-6 at one stage, but the all-round pair of Shardul Thakur and Washington Sundar came to India’s rescue.

The 123-run partnership between Thakur and Sundar for the seventh wicket resurrected the life in an otherwise one-sided affair in the first innings for Men in Blue. A crucial partnership allowed India to reduce the deficit to a marginal 33-run lead to Australia.

Mohammed Siraj led India’s pace attack despite the Gabba Test only being his third international test appearance; he wreaked havoc with his maiden five-wicket haul, while Shardul Thakur bagged four wickets. The performances from the pace duo allowed Ajinkya Rahane-led India to bundle out Australia for 294, thereby setting a target of 328 to chase down.

There were many odds stacked against India. Scoring 300+ runs on the last day is in itself an uphill task. Even the world’s best batters would go for a draw in such a situation. Secondly, Gabba had been a fortress for the home team for the past 32 years. Courtesy to the cracks developed in the pitch, the likes of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc were all set to rattle not just the Indian batters, but to stamp their claim at Gabba. However, little that pace attack knew what’s coming their way.

Historic chase:

Rohit Sharma’s early dismissal jeopardized the progress towards chasing the total. Team India was under immense pressure against a rampant Aussie bowling attack. A 114-run stand between Gill and Pujara ensured the stability in chase after the early tremors.

Giill’s arrival

Shubman Gill had risen well above the ranks, smashing glorious drives and defending lethal pace, just 21-year-old was cruising towards his maiden century before he fell short of 9 runs of his well-deserved triple figures. A 90’s in the winning cause is always greater than a century.

Solid Pujara

The modern-day wall Pujara negated the good balls for a solid defence which added to bowlers’ frustration. Taking as many as 15 blows and jabs on the body with the nastiest one at the thumb, Pujara was rock solid at his end and contributed with his half century.

At the other end, Rahane in an effort to up the ante had to lose his wicket. Pant was watchful and playing his shots carefully. He was not trying anything extraordinary in the first phase of his play. For India to barge into victory, Pant was required to stay till the end. Pujara’s wicket fell and it was time for the youngsters to step up to the occasion.

Rishabh Pant’s heroic

With required run rates ranging between 4.5 to 5 which is a very tough task in test cricket, Pant’s innings made sure that the required run rate is not creeping over 6. Boundaries, twos, threes, singles, rotation of strike confirmed the score board kept ticking. Pant made sure that 3-5 runs are scored every over so that the required rate isn’t creeping high, making proceedings out of reach.

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The debutant Sundar who was just playing his second innings of his test career, scored a quickfire 22 off 29. Few lucky edges and leg byes also came India’s way further negating the gap and fortunes were clearly favouring the brave hearts. Shardul falls cheaply in an attempt to hit those winning runs.

Collapse of Australia’s Fortress

Following a series of snakes and ladders, it took a resilient brave knock by Rishabh Pant to seal the victory in India’s favour by hitting a boundary with 3 overs left in the bank. It just made millions of Indians feel the adrenaline rush and stare with joy at an unbelievable scenario of what transpired on the final day. The iconic three-wicket win also marked the end of Australia’s 32-year unbeaten streak at the Gabba.

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