The Indian cricket team staged a comeback of epic proportions in Australia to register a memorable 2-1 Test series win Down Under.
India lost the first Test at Adelaide after being bowled out for a mere 36 in the second innings and subsequently lost their captain Virat Kohli for the remainder of the series as he left on paternity leave. And this led to a majority of the experts predicting that India were destined for a series sweep, but the Ajinkya Rahane-led side had other ideas.
Despite all the injuries and setbacks, Team India won the Boxing Day Test at Melbourne to level the series followed by some determined heroics at Sydney to secure a vital draw, which helped the team stay alive in the series.
In the final Test, India were without all of their senior bowlers at a venue — the Gabba — where Australia had not lost in 32 years. Yet, it was the Indian team that came on top after five days of enthralling Test cricket as the visitors secured a historic series win.
What kept India going in the face of adversity is something that has intrigued us all and the recent video chats between Ravichandran Ashwin and India's fielding coach R Sridhar on the cricketer's YouTube channel go a long way in providing an insights into India's epic comeback.
In their conversation, the duo revealed that the team management decided to give the players a break from training sessions after the Adelaide capitulation as they felt it would be counterproductive. Instead, the team played games like Dumb Charades.
"It was Arun sir’s idea. He felt if the boys practiced, it will be out of frustration and they will tend to overthink and over-analyse which is not good for their minds. Unnecessarily it will create mental strain. So it was decided to give a complete off. We had dinner that night and had a few games and got the boys together," Sridhar said.
Ashwin also revealed that it was coach Ravi Shastri's idea to make the spinner bowl early in the Melbourne Test. The move proved to be a very significant as Ashwin dismissed Steve Smith.
"Ravi Shastri came into the dressing room and boomed, 'ASSHHHH, get the ball in the first 10 overs’. I was just wearing my pants. I thought ‘in Melbourne he wants me to bowl in the first 10 overs’ (Ashwin imitating Shastri). ‘It might be damp, it might spin, I have told Jinks (Rahane)’. Bumrah bowled a good spell. Jinks then gave me the ball and the first ball I bowled, it spun a lot and bounced as well. I was like wow," Ashwin said.
At Sydney, Australia were in a dominant position after they set up a 407-run target and had over 130 overs to bowl India out. But a resilient 62-run partnership between Ashwin and Vihari from 256 deliveries helped India defy the odds.
Ashwin shared a funny anecdote from the partnership that also involved Shardul Thakur. Thakur was asked by Shastri to deliver the message to the duo that Ashwin must bat against Nathan Lyon and Vihari should take care of the pacers during their partnership but Thakur didn't give the message, instead asked the pair to continue batting as they were
"Thakur comes running in and he is panting. I told him just tell me what is the message. Shardul after a while says: ‘they told me many things in the dressing room, I am not going to say any of it. You guys are already doing a great job. So please continue. ‘I told him, Is this the message? Why did you come all this way for this?!"
Check out the videos here for more such stories and anecdotes:
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