The Perfect final day.
This is one for the purists, the traditionalists, the ones who love the beautiful game.
When Ajinkya Rahane fell to the 10th ball of the day, one that spun sharply and took a spit of dust off the pitch, the writing was seemingly on the wall for India. Shane Warne was sat in the commentary box wondering how he’d celebrate the Aussie win later tonight whilst the tales of dread and misery where being typed up for the Indians, what where they without Kohli, where was the fight and the passion that the Maverick leader had seemingly instilled in his side over the past years. Well.
Enter Rishabh Pant. Left out of the first test of the series, unspectacular but useful in the second but the third well. Pant had dropped catches and failed with the bat in the first innings but this time round he was determined. Promoted up the order, above the out of nick Vihari, Pant repaid the faith and it proved to be a critical decision as he provided the perfect balance for Pujara’s brigadier block at the other end. The young Indian keeper took Lyon apart, he made the world's best off spinner look like an average one. But Pant did not attack Lyon unnecesarily, after hitting back to back 6’s Pant then was happy to see off the good balls instead of needlessly attacking them. Pant's innings was itself contained with balance, the balance between attacking and defending, restoring the balance in the test match and swingin the momentum India's way, the balance between confidence and being cocky. Pant may have missed out on a ton but he saved that game for India, he changed the mentality of the game and he showed again why he simply cannot be dropped from this side.
Alas at 272-5 and out of nick Ashwin and Vihari at the crease it all seemed useless. This is an attack who bowled India out for 36, this is an attack who are considered one of the best of all time. Well 32 overs and 62 runs later everyone was left scratching their heads. Ashwin was a man who couldn’t tie his shoes that morning and Vihari merely a few days ago couldn’t hit it off the square. Together they fought and showed absolute resilience in the face of imminent defeat. India were the heroes of today and they showed the sort of defiance that so many touring sides have lacked in Australia over the past years, and the sort of fight that was seemingly missing in the absence of their greatest player.
It must be noted that the Aussies didn’t bowl particularly badly, they had chances they just didn’t take them. This leads us onto the villain of the day, Tim Paine. Tim Paines behaviour today was disgusting. The way he spoke to Ashwin was quite frankly appalling and way over the line of “Banta” which the team speak so highly of. Paine has built a reputation not just amongst the Australian public but also the cricketing community at large of being the nice guy in cricket the man who restored faith into a team of misfits and cheats. But today Paine, the leader of the side, proved himself no different from the rest with his distasteful comments towards Ashwin. Given the behaviour from the crowd this past week Paines behaviour is amplified by the no tolerance for abuse message that Cricket Australia released a few days ago. Paines reputation is on the line and a second series defeat to India at home could lead to Paine being replaced. Who by? That’s a discussion for another time.
Heading into the final test it’s all the play for but India have shown once again just how good they are. The win in Melbourne was one for the ages and Sydney was a game that the purists will sit back and admire for decades to come. No Jadeja