India’s biggest takeaway is Virat Kohli


Steve Smith conceded that India’s 2-1 series triumph, their fourth consecutive victory by a similar margin since 2017, was a fair result, referencing an ‘hour of madness’ on the third morning in New Delhi that undermined his side’s challenge.

One hour of madness

That hour of madness was when Australia slumped from their overnight 61 for one, and an overall lead of 62, to 113 all out with a series of barely believable sweep shots on a track of low bounce. Accepting the gift with grateful hands, India surged to a comfortable six-wicket win to open up an unbeaten 2-0 advantage.

Typical of how their sporting psyche is wired, Australia bounced back in spectacular style in Indore without skipper Pat Cummins and influential opener David Warner, stand-in captain Smith masterminding a stunning coup on a sandpit to raise hopes of a 2-2 series stalemate following easy Indian wins in Nagpur and New Delhi. A flatbed that reduced the final Test to a batathon thwarted those designs, but Australia could walk away with their heads held high.

India were found wanting in Indore, their batting techniques laid threadbare by a spin trio of one master (Nathan Lyon) and two rookies (Todd Murphy and Matt Kuhnemann). While it’s hard to ignore those two staggering batting meltdowns, India unearthed heroes when they needed them most. 

Skipper Rohit Sharma led from the front with a vitally significant hundred in the opening act, Ravindra Jadeja prospered with bat and ball on his comeback to Test cricket, R Ashwin reiterated how vital he is to this Indian wheel, Shubman Gill underlined his class and Axar Patel showcased how far he has come along as a Test batsman, though his bowling efficacy was remarkably stunted.

The most heartening development from an Indian perspective, as significant as making it to the final of the World Test Championship, retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and winning the series, was the return to big run-making ways of Virat Kohli. Having averaged in the 25s in 23 Tests since the beginning of 2020, the former captain was the archetypal immovable object in Ahmedabad, playing with the unshakable determination if not flair and authority of old. His 28th Test hundred, 1025 days after No. 27, blossomed from relentless accumulation to a free-spirited exhibition of stroke-making once he had brought up three-figures. His last 86 runs in a 511-minute show of restraint and gumption was an exhilarating throwback to the times when Kohli decimated attacks with unerring regularity.

Also Read: I let complications grow on me, not scoring big was eating me up: Virat Kohli

Crucial year

In the year of the final of the WTC—also against Australia at The Oval from June 7—and the 50-over World Cup at home in October-November, to have a Kohli firing on all cylinders is imperative. His return to prolificity ought to be the biggest takeaway from this series for Rohit and head coach Rahul Dravid.



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