by Kobe Jacobs, ACS Literary Scholar
That’s now three Tests wrapped up within three days of play in the Border-Gavaskar series, which really is quite extraordinary, but not surprising given the tricky Indian conditions.
Thanks to the excellent bowling of Nathan Lyon on Day 2 and the questionable Indore pitch which was deemed ‘poor’ by the ICC officials in their post-match assessment, the Australians were dominant in their quest to restore some faith to Aussie cricket fans, defeating India by nine wickets.
It was former Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden who described the wicket as “horrendous” during the early parts of the Test match, and his comment proved to be true.
The Indore wicket caused all batsmen headaches which ultimately allowed both Lyon and Matthew Kuhnemann to have a field day with the ball in the first and second innings.
The finger-spinning pair snared a combined total of 17 wickets throughout the match, with Lyon receiving the ‘Player of the Match’ award for his incredible figures of 8/64 in India’s second innings
With the series now positioned at 2-1 with one Test to play, a drawn series against a formidable Indian side would be like a shot of adrenaline for the Australians, knowing that there is a Test Championship final and Ashes series later to play this year.
The win in Indore is only the second time Australia has beaten the hosts since 2004, having lost five Indian Test series in a row.
With a chance to now draw the series level, it’s an understatement to say that there is plenty to play for leading into the Ahmedabad Test on Thursday.
This Border-Gavaskar series has been challenging for both teams, but it has rewarded those who have been mentally tough throughout each Test.
The first case of this was displayed by Axar Patel. In the first two Test matches, the all-rounder was so stubborn not to give his wicket away and help the Indian tail consolidate to get to a defendable score throughout the first two Tests.
From the Australian camp, Peter Handscomb showed his fight in producing a score of 72 not out off 142 balls to will his country to win.
However, his efforts ultimately came unstuck due to that second innings collapse.
Nonetheless, this series has pushed all players to their cricketing limits.
The Third Test provided plenty of mental battles for both teams, the main one being each batsman preparing themselves to face the Indore wicket.
Chasing down 76 runs in the second innings must have felt more like chasing down 150 runs for the Australians, given the state of the wicket.
After Usman Khawaja was caught behind on only the second ball of Day 3, panic could have crept into the Australian dressing room. Instead, Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head fought bravely to secure their country the must needed victory.
Had they tried to get the runs quickly, they may have lost a clump of wickets consecutively.
Had they become bogged down in a defensive mindset, they may have been stuck in a horrible rut and been too pressured by the Indian spin attack.
But Labuschagne and Head provided the perfect combination in putting away the bad balls and safely defending the good balls, the perfect gameplan in chasing down a slim score.
The result is recorded as a nine-wicket victory to the Australians, but it sure wasn’t easy. It was gritty.
Given the previous two Test finishes, this win must feel momentous for the Australian playing group, who know destiny now awaits them.
The opportunity to potentially obtain one more victory in India without captain Pat Cummins and David Warner would further develop the growth of this Test squad, pushing them towards greater heights later in 2023.
Australian Cricket Society’s literary scholar Kobe Jacobs is mentored by writer John Harms. His pieces are also published at www.footyalmanac.com.au .