Season of a lifetime in toughest of conditions: Ravi Shastri

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The Indian head coach Ravi Shastri lauded the Indian team’s performances in the international season 2020-21 with included 8 tests, 8 T20Is, and 6 ODIs after the IPL 2020 against two of the best sides in World cricket.  In a tweet, he used the most appropriate words congratulating the team on a ” season of a lifetime ” in the toughest of conditions relating to staying isolated in bio bubbles during a covid pandemic and winning in both hemispheres against two top teams in world cricket.

In that little tweet above bShastri has appropriately covered and described the brilliant season for India which came exactly 50 years after the 1st ever ” golden moments ” of Indian cricket during 1971 when Ajit Wadekar’s team having youngsters Sunil Gavaskar and Gundappa Viswanath  and the great spin quartlet beat West Indies and Ashes winning England team in overseas in back to back test series in their own backyard . 

As if to pay homage for the great deeds by their predecessor of 50 years ago, the current team India staged a magnificent 5 months for Indian cricket and the cornerstone of the whole season was winning the test series in Australia against heaviest odds . 

After IPL 2020 India went on a 3 month rigorous tour of Australia playing 3 T20Is & ODIs each and 4 gruelling test matches . Steve Smith’s twin tons off 60 odd balls on each of 1st two ODIs had India finally losing the ODI series 2-1 . The team then made a fine comeback winning the T20I series 2-1 , thus reversing the ODI results .  Then came the brilliant test series dubbed as  one of the greatest test series accross eras . 

Season of a lifetime in toughest of conditions
Season of a lifetime in toughest of conditions

India under Kohli lost the pink ball 1st test at Adelaide miserably on 3rd day after dominating for 1st two days taking a 1st innings lead of 54. The team was blown away for just 36 in 2nd innings by sensational fast bowling from Aussies to lose by 8 wickets .

Then followed the great Indian fightback which turned a seemingly one-sided series into an epic one. A plethora of injuries followed, the main captain going home to attend parental duties, the vice-captain, himself involved in a terrible runout of his captain at Adelaide took over and showed his focus and resilience, rallying the team around to win at MCG and level the series leading into two of the greatest test matches to follow.

SCG had India with their backs to the wall with Australia needing 8 wickets to win on day 5 as tourists were set 418. The game ebbed and flowed with injured Pant raising hopes of a win which turned into a survival after his departure and ended with two bruised and battered “soldiers” Ashwin and Vihari hanging in for a draw and set up a grand finale at Gabba which went on to become the most sensational of test matches in modern era , with India again on the ropes with an XI of substitutes necessitated by phlethora of injuries of first choice players .

Another gripping last day with India needing to hang in for a draw to retain the ” Border Gavaskar Trophy ” but which turned into a thriller with Pant and Sundar changing survival instincts into a winning one and scripted probably the greatest of Indian wins abroad against heaviest odds after they were down to the “bones of their squad” as was described by Aussie legend Ricky Ponting referring to injuries.

That great Gabba heist taking India to a historical 2-1 test series win in Australia changed the contours of Indian cricket . Now they greeted England at home and the hangover of the earlier series win euphoria led them to lose the 1st test but stung by the reverse and with a rejuvenated Ashwin from Australia supported by debutant Akshar Patel’s success , India humiliated England in remaining 3 tests to win series 3-1 and following up with great series wins in T20I (3-2) and ODIs (2-1) against the World’s best white ball outfit after some pulsating cricket matches and to do it during stringent bio bubbles in pandemic times was simply  awesome. 

This is the new Indian team where the  current generation players just do not think of survival alone but to win against all odds . The pool of talent that has emerged in this outstanding season is staggering . In Australia Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill proved that they are long term investments. They were followed by a phlethora of debuts and comebacks with Sundar , Shardul , Natarajan , Akshar Patel , Prasidh Krishna, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishen taking on international cricket with a winning mentality which reflected in their performances. 

The grand comeback of Bhuvneshwar Kumar after long injury layoff in white ball cricket was awesome . The resurgence of Ravichandran Ashwin in Australia and beyond was amazing and above all , the mighty rejuvenation of Rishabh Pant from Australia test series and his awesome comeback in white ball cricket was stunning .  The wicketkeeper batsman was almost down and out after IPL 2020 but his rigorous hardwork on his batting and keeping has changed his fortunes. He is a bigger matchwinner now and surely India’s international cricketer of the season 2020-21 .

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