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The India vs Australia series ends on an acrimonious note.
By CricShots - Mar 29, 2017 5:39 pm
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It’s not every year that you get to witness a series as fiercely and immaculately fought  over a sustained period of time – more than a month. It’s not every year that you see almost every player in the series chip in with a contribution of paramount importance. There was a lesser known Steven O’Keefe, who delivered what could very well be the spell of his life in Pune during the first Test, a spell that thwarted the Indians and shattered the preconceived notion that India Batsmen are the players of the spin in the World. He ended up scalping 12 wickets in the game, causing a major upset after India went on to lose the Test by an ignominious 333 runs. There was Nathan Lyon who ran like a rash over the Indian Team during the first innings in the second Test at Bengaluru, ending with career best figures of 8/50 that eventually ended up with vain. There was Ravi Ashwin who in spite of being out of touch, helped India script a famous win at Bengaluru, a win that helped them recover after the humiliation in Pune. Then there was the extravagant Ravindra Jadeja who struck crucial blows every time he was given the ball and chipped in with crucial contributions with Bat as well. Then there was the Australian Captain, Steven Smith, as fidgety and tentative as ever, moving on the pitch even before the bowler delivers, like a tiger who shifts gears before repositioning itself for planning a better go at its prey, batting belligerently scored an incredible 499 runs off 4 Test Matches. His century in Pune was the best, the one for the ages. There are Handscomb and Marsh, heroes of the Ranchi Test. There’s KL Rahul, who even as the rest of the batsmen struggled to tackle Lyon’s odd bounce and O’Keefe’s sharp turn, looked like he was batting in a zone of his own, scoring an unbelievable 6 fifties off 8 innings, two of them being 90s. Then there’s Cheteshwar Pujara who batted as if his life depended on it, rolling back the years to show us a glimpse of what Rahul Dravid could do. Then there was that fifty from Ajinkya Rahane in the Bengaluru Test that kept us India in the series. There’s Vijay who played his role, only just. And then there are Hazelwood, Starc and Cummins who kept taking wickets even as the spinners ran riots. There’re Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma who kept bowling relentlessly, troubling the Australian batsmen, creating a firm platform for Ashwin and Jadeja to capitalise; Umesh Yadav being the pick of them all, bowling impeccable lines consistently. And then there’s Kuldeep Yadav who orchestrated Australia’s downfall in the first innings at Dharamsala, playing in his debut Test. Take away any one of the contributions from any game and the series could have turned on its head, such close was the contest.

Such high drama, such extraordinary action, this has got to be one of the best Test series everyone has been a part of, you wonder. And then you wonder why a lot of things that happened off the field happened! It was as if the best of royal dinners was spoilt by a scuffle between the hosts, over a petty matter. It all started with the infamous ‘brain fade’ during the second Test at Bengaluru when Steven Smith, adjudged LBW, first walked towards Handscomb at the non-striker’s end for his opinion, who clearly pointed towards the dressing room, signalling Smith to look for possible clues from there. Virat Kohli, who claimed he had seen the Aussies do this a couple of times before, stormed along with the Umpire Nigel Llong who ordered Smith to walk away since he couldn’t do that as per rules. Later, when India completed a famous victory, Smith claimed it was a brain fade while Virat Kohli stopped just short of calling Smith a ‘cheat’, something that didn’t go down well with the Australian media who thus started an unprecedented relentless attack on the Indian Captain. During the third Test, as luck would have it, Virat Kohli injured his left shoulder while trying to save a boundary and was later mocked by a Maxwell and a couple of other players. From there, it just worsened. Words were exchanged, abuses were hurled, mudslinging reached a new level and accusatory finger-pointing reached a crescendo. Australian media called Virat Kohli ‘the Donald Trump’ of Cricket and Hodge ‘hoped’ Virat Kohli was seriously injured, a comment, I feel, is in extremely poor taste.

All said and done, there still was a chance to resurrect all that had gone wrong off the field. After India chased down the target yesterday to complete a clinical victory and regained the shining Border-Gavaskar trophy, Smith apologised for calling Murali Vijay a ‘f***ing cheater’ after the latter claimed a catch that replays showed was clearly grounded. He even offered the stand-in Captain Ajinkya Rahane a beer in the dressing room. Rahane promptly said he will get back to Smith on this. People in the know say Virat Kohli refused anything with the Aussies and that was evident when he went on to openly say “he can never think of Aussies as friends from now on…” And thus, all that had gone wrong off the field could have been corrected, rather should have been corrected, will remain as it is now. The brilliance on the field has already blurred somewhere in the background. After what could have been one of the greatest series played in recent times concluded, Cricket managed to take a backseat and thus, lost!

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