“Gets it through, gets it throughhhhhhhhhh! India have won the most incredible Test match and the most amazing series by playing magnificent cricket“– They were down and out, they were obliterated, mocked, ridiculed.
Obituaries were being written. 0-4 they said! “This will be a mauling for the ages,” feared a die-hard Indian fan. “Hello, 1992, 1999, and 2011! Meet your new mate- 2020,” said a cynical Indian fan who had experienced enough of such maulings that he no longer cared.
“How you can you hurt someone who has watched his team surrender to 81 all-out in reply to 120 or get obliterated 0-4, 0-3?” Lie. Everyone cares. It’s just that with time we learn how to hide our emotions.
Well! No one was hiding their emotions on that magical day of January 19th when Rishabh Pant got the ball through; the day when Rishabh Pant hit that straight drive that breached the Gabbatoir forever.
“India has won, India has won in epic style, the whole country is upon their feat in absolute joy and ecstasy”– the Late Tony Grieg would have been saying from heaven.
It was that sort of a day. It was a day that not only summed up the entire Indian International season this winter, but it was also a day that served as a lesson to all of us desperately trying to cling on to a ray of hope in such uncertain times that, ” Hey! hang in there. There is a light at the end of this tunnel”
The Indian Cricket Team did exactly that and the results were for everyone to see. They were punched, they were bruised, they were handicapped due to a plethora of injuries, their best player was on paternity leave, they were humiliated but they not only hung on for dear life but they reciprocated with equal disdain, leaving the opposition, its fans, their own fans, neutrals, everyone shellshocked.
Make no mistake, this wasn’t just a normal season of cricket.
There is a pandemic out there wreaking havoc. People are dying. Hospitals are overloaded. Those who haven’t yet contracted the virus are dying from inside due to overthinking and loneliness. Jobs are drying up. People are being laid off. Businesses are getting shut forever. People are losing their close ones.
To cut the long story short, the world is going through a pretty horrific phase due to Covid. There is desperation all around. Will we die? Will we lose our closed ones due to this contagion? What if we get laid off? Will we ever leave a normal life again?
The same goes for players. They were forced to stay in glorified prisons for an extended period of time. Their freedom was taken away. Most of them were without their families. Natarajan didn’t see his newly-born baby girl till late January (she was born in November), Siraj had lost his father before the season. A few of them were at the crossroads in their career [Read: Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, Prithvi Shaw],
Add the constant scrutiny from fans, journalists on social media and the fact that they started the season with ODI series defeat and the embarrassing 36 all-out in the first Test and the constant injuries, to withstand all this and come up with the performances that they eventually did, is a testimony to their mental fortitude, grit, perseverance, and the relentless desire to be the best in the world.
Siraj became the spearhead; Natarajan stepped up when it mattered; Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur proved to be the messiahs and Rishabh Pant finally, FINALLY turned around the corner and established himself as one of the most biggest match-winners in world cricket.
For every Ashwin, there was a Washington Sundar, for every Mohammed Shami there was a Mohammed Siraj, for every Jasprit Bumrah there was Shardul Thakur, for every Ishan Kishan there was a Suryakumar Yadav for every Ravindra Jadeja there was Axar Patel, who spun England into a tizzy with the balls that didn’t turn. Of course, Pant was the constant as was Ashwin.
For every Sydney there was Canberra, for every Adelaide there was Brisbane and Melbourne, for every Chennai there was Ahmedabad.
8 Tests, 8 T20Is, 6 ODIs, 13 wins, 8 defeats, 1 draw.
5 series wins out of 6. Historic Test series win in Australia, mauling of England at home, back-to-back white-ball series triumphs against the World No.1 England.
WHAT A SEASON! THANK YOU TEAM INDIA FOR THE MEMORIES!
— Yash Mittal 🇮🇳 (@im_yash2307) March 28, 2021
Just like every other sport, numbers dominate the game of cricket, but this season was more than just about numbers. It was a season where 11 men on the field and a dozen of them in the change room sacrificed a lot to bring smiles to our faces.
The IPL will take center stage in a day or two but before that happens, let’s just pause, rewind, relive, applaud and say thank you to the Men in Blue for the unforgettable memories they gave us which, for a moment, made us forget the realities of life. Sports does that to us, and this winter, cricket certainly did that.
Thank you Team India, thank you for giving an escape from reality. It was a pleasure witnessing you about your business.