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Kohli's Adelaide revolution bears fruit at The Gabba

India's Virat Kohli
India's Virat Kohli

If you are still struggling to find a logical answer to how an effectively second string Indian side was successful in beating Australia, in Australia, and breaching the Gabbatoir fortress, it all began six years ago at Adelaide.

India Tour of Australia 2020/21

India's regular captain MS Dhoni had to miss the first test match due to a stiff back and Virat Kohli was beginning to gain greater stature in Indian cricket with every passing day. As expected, Kohli was handed over the reigns.

Batting first, Australia blasted 517 runs. Contrary to expectations, India did not fall in a heap under the pressure of the scoreboard and responded with 444, with Virat Kohli scoring 115 off 184 deliveries.

Australia declared for 219 in their 2nd innings and set India a 364-run target. Most teams would have tried to play for a draw with a day of bowling to negotiate from the likes of Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle and Shane Watson. However, India, under a young captain, decided to go for the victory.

"Told the guys last night that whatever target it was we were going to chase it. I believed in my ability, Lyon bowled the ball in the right areas. If me and Vijay added about 40 runs there, the game would have been different. You see one opening and the team capitalises, and that's what Australia did. I was trying to hit it much more in front of the square. But it was one of those mistakes I'll look back and say I could have done better, Backing myself through the Test and no regrets. Have to play with passion and commitment."

This is what the stand-in Indian skipper had to say after the defeat. What stood out was that there was no resignation to the fact that a defeat on a wearing day five pitch, with the mountainous target in front of them, was inevitable. But, there was pride in the fact that they did the right thing and went for the total, that they stuck together as a unit to their game plan and backed their ability.

Even the early dismissal of Shikhar Dhawan did not set them back as Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara began to grind it out. After Pujara was dismissed, Virat Kohli played a counter-attacking knock, finally getting dismissed on 141 off 175 deliveries. Kohli spent 279 minutes at the crease and struck 16 fours and one six, going at a strike rate of over 80.

For the duration he was at the crease, a win for India looked more than possible. However, India underwent a collapse as was palpable on the final day in Adelaide with plenty of rough for Nathan Lyon to exploit. India's last seven batsmen could add just 29 runs as Lyon picked up 7/42 to help Australia win by 48 runs.

India went on to lose the series 2-0 after drawing the final two matches, following losses in the first two by 48 runs and 4 wickets respectively. What came of it was that MS Dhoni decided at the end of the third test match that the team was ready to go ahead without him and passed on the baton to Virat Kohli in the role of the leader and to Wriddhiman Saha behind the wickets.

That might not have seemed that consequential at that point but it was well and truly the turning point in the modern history of Indian cricket. The next time the team toured Down Under for a test series, they were far more courageous and positive in their approach.

India boasted of a formidable pace bowling attack with the likes of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav on the tour of Australia in 2017-18 and finished with a 2-1 victory, which could easily have been 3-1 had rain not played spoilsport in the last match at Sydney.

In the recently-concluded test series as well, it was that ability to stick together as a unit, the resolve and the positive approach which helped India pull through despite only two of their players managing to play through the series 

At the end of the day, it was not about the individuals. It was about the team values, the passion and the never-say-die attitude which helped India produce a test series victory for the ages, the seeds of which were sown over six years ago under the able leadership of Virat Kohli at Adelaide.


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