India Vs Australia Series Review 2020-21: The Greatest Story of Them All? Better Than Ashes 2005?
India Vs Australia Series Review: The Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Usually a Test series is made up of a few iconic moments. This series was a compilation of iconic moments stitched together into a series.
- Injuries: Pucovski–Warner & Ishant-Bhuvneshwar Kumar pre-series. Shami, Umesh, Ashwin, Vihari, Jadeja, Bumrah, KL Rahul, & Pucovski again during the series.
- Adelaide: Kohli‘s 74 & Run-Out, India 36/9 via Cummins & Hazlewood, Paine & Burn score, Kohli returns home.
- Melbourne: India’s resilient comeback win, Rahane’s magnificent ton, Ashwin-Smith duel, Rahane comforts Jadeja after run-out.
- Sydney: Rohit Sharma returns to work, Shubman Gill’s emergence, Smith-Labuschagne master-student showcase, Siraj battles racial abuse, Matthew Wade’s brain fades, Paine drops & sledges, India hold on, Pant 97, Pujara-Pant + Vihari-Ashwin = Draw.
- Brisbane: Nathan Lyon’s 100th Test & signed jersey by Team India, stranded on 399 wickets, Natarajan & Sundar debut, Saini injured, Siraj’s 5-for, Thakur-Sundar fightback, Gill’s 91 & Pant’s 89*, Pujara Fights Body Blows & Butterfly, 328 chased, The Gabba fortress breached.
The series went from being “too friendly” to racial abuses. There were plenty of mini contests like Paine vs Ashwin, Pujara vs Lyon, fielders vs the flying ball, & Pujara vs Cummins (my favorite battle) to name a few.
Here are my picks for the best moments, emerging players, and much more in this India Vs Australia Series Review! Comment IN THE COMMENTS SECTION below on your favorite moments.
*Note: Underlined & Bolded links are videos. Underlined without bold are links to other articles.
Also Read: Top 10 Life Lessons from the Ind-Aus Series, Ind-Aus Test Series Preview, Prediction Results
Results – India Vs Australia
Test Series: India won 2-1
* Player of Match
- Australia won by 8 wickets *Tim Paine (Toss: India elected to bat)
- India won by 8 wickets *Ajinkya Rahane (Toss: Australia elected to bat)
- Match Drawn *Steven Smith (Toss: Australia elected to bat)
- India won by 3 wickets *Rishabh Pant (Toss: Australia elected to bat)
Interesting that toss went the wrong way in these games and batting second was not detrimental.
|Player of Series||India||Australia |
4/21 Best Innings, 7/69 Best Match
|Most Runs||Rishabh Pant – 274 Runs (5 innings)|
Cheteshwar Pujara – 271 Runs (8 innings)
|Marnus Labuschagne – 426 runs (8 innings)|
Steven Smith – 313 runs (8 innings)
|Most Wickets||Mohammad Siraj – 13 wickets (6 innings)|
Ravinchandran Ashwin – 12 wickets (6 innings)
|Pat Cummins – 21 Wickets (8 innings)|
Josh Hazlewood – 17 Wickets (8 innings)
1. Cheteshwar Pujara is a Legend.
- 2018/19 – 521 runs, 100s-3 & 50s-1, best of 193, Average 74.42, Strike Rate 41.41, Balls Faced 1258
- 2020/21 – 271 runs, 100s-0 & 50s-3, best of 77, Average 33.87, Strike Rate 29.20, Balls Faced 928
Statistically, Pujara had a worse tour than 2018 by double the margin in almost every area. In reality? His impact this time was just as important, if not more. If Pujara was not present at Sydney or Brisbane, neither would have drawn the 3rd Test nor won the 4th. The Australian bowling line up at the final session of 4th Test had all the energy drawn out of them through the defense of Pujara. On the last day, Pujara was unfazed despite so many blows to the helmet, chest, and the worst – finger jarring. Act of character and survival upon which India prospered.
2. Youngsters & India A Deliver
- In 2008, Sri Lanka unveiled the M Factor against India – Malinga, Muralitharan, Mahela, & Mendis (later Mathews).
- Similarly, India had the S factor – Debutants Siraj, Sundar, Shubman, Shardul (first Test – 10 balls & injured).
Shubman Gill’s consistency & backfoot punches, Washington Sundar’s confidence, Siraj’s maturity, & Shardul’s ability to make things happen all contributed to India’s series victory. If one player could symbolize this series, it is Mohammad Siraj, leading from the front in his 3rd Test match. Father’s bereavement and on the back of racial abuse, he stood firm on his ground and delivered.
January 11th is Rahul Dravid’s birthday, India A & India U-19 Coach (2016-19), now the head of the National Cricket Academy, and a mentor to many of these youngsters. Rishabh Pant & Vihari, a product of the India A system, provided Dravid with a perfect birthday gift on the eve of his birthday. Pant will always be questioned, but when India needed him, he delivered.
3. Rahane & Team Management
- In our India vs Australia preview, we said that after 2014, “Rahane has failed to go to the next level,” & needs a “Pujara 2018 or Laxman 281 to elevate to legendary status.”
Verdict: Rahane has now successfully elevated himself to legendary status – as a batsman, player, & captain.
Although Rahane’s Melbourne knock rejuvenated the side, special mention needs to go to Ravi Shastri, Bharat Arun, the physios, & the support staff. In hindsight, the 36/9 rejuvenated the side, but it could easily have gone the 2011 England-Australia tours with 4-0. Credit to the team management & leadership group to keep the team together and motivated (The law of averages helped India as chances for the rest of the series went India’s way).
With all the Rahane vs Virat vs Rohit Twitter battles, one should remember that this is Kohli’s team (emphasis on fast bowlers & overseas victories) which Rahane took forward with Rohit & co in the leadership group. Team effort, no less.
1. Labuschagne, Smith, & Warner
- 739 runs, 100s-2, 50s-4, best of 131, average of 49.27.
Sounds pretty good, right? This is the combined stats of Marnus Labuschagne & Steven Smith and vastly skewed by the performance in the last two matches. They were good, but not the usual. Smith lost the duel to R Ashwin over the series, while Labuschagne capitalized on dropped chances. For a side carrying injured openers, a Joe Burn, and a couple of inconsistent keepers, a lot more was expected from these two.
David Warner was visibly unfit, & 67 runs (from which 48 came in one innings) at 16.75 does not reflect a player of his caliber. Against Warner, every bowler looked like Stuart Broad.
Usman Khawaja & Shaun Marsh, anybody?
2. The Fall of Nathan Lyon & Mitchell Starc?
- Starc took 11 wickets at 40.72 (74.7 SR) & Lyon with 9 wickets at 55.11 (SR: A whopping 124.6)
Alarming numbers. Lyon looked decent for the first couple of Test matches without much ‘luck,’ especially with Hazlewood & Cummins going through the Indian line-up. As the series progressed, it became clear that Lyon was having an underwhelming series. Pujara’s dancing down the wicket blocks & Pant’s hit was too much to digest. Starc? Inconsistent, out of form, & slightly injured. Amidst a long tour, COVID Bio-Bubbles, and against a certain Pujara, not rotating quicks cost Australia.
Speaking of inconsistent keepers, Tim Paine & Matthew Wade: A Tale of Two Careers.
- 8, 33, 30, 40, 13, 4, 45, 0, and a whole load of ways of getting out
Look, I like Wade & Paine. Paine even had a great series with the bat, including a match-winning 72. I admire players who started early, were dropped, improved, & fought back into the XI. These two have been in-and-out since 2010-11 & have finally managed some success at the international level, but is it enough? One of Australia’s flaws this series was not capitalizing on strong situations, and Wade was always at the center. Not converting a single start might be too much for the Australian selectors. On the other hand, Paine will still be in the side at least as a batsman, but lots of question on his keeping and captaincy. Also, Tim & his Paineful reviews.
Murmurs about Alex Carey trying a summer England gig after being released from Delhi Capitals…
3. The Lone Bright Spots
Not everything was bad for Australia though.
- 8 innings, 162.1 overs, 51 maidens, 21 wickets, 4/21 Best innings & 7/69 Best match
That’s Pat Cummins for you. Most overs bowled. Highest wicket taker. Most maidens. Player of the Series. Consistently threatened India’s batting from the first Test to the last. Intensity, eyes on fire, perfect line & length. Hazlewood was really good too, but Cummins was just on another level.
Debutants Cameron Green & Will Pucovski were of the highest quality. Although Green did not have much to show in the wickets column (none after 6 matches & 44 overs), he ticked several boxes. A tall bowler at 140 kph, safe pair of hands with 10 feet reach, can dig in when needed, and explode as his blistering 84 displayed. Pucovski never looked out of place with a confident 62, sandwiched between unfortunate injuries.
We like to spice things up with our own awards for the series.
The 4th Test overshadowed the Broken Cricket Dream awards for Australia, otherwise Joe Burns falling career, Pucovski’s repeated injuries, & Wade’s dismissals were ideal candidates. Here they are:
|Emerging Player||Shubman Gill & Mohammad Siraj||Cameron Green|
|Surprise Package||India’s Resilience & Character|
Sundar, Shardul, Siraj
|Tim Paine – The Batsman|
Marnus Labuschagne – The outfielder
|Broken Cricket Dream||The Injuries|
The Dropped Catches
|Tim Paine – The Captain|
Tim Paine – The Keeper
Nathan Lyon 399*
Who would have been your Emerging Player? Surprise Player? Broken Cricket Dream? Let us know below WITH COMMENTS!
Where Do They Go From Here?
In terms of the World Test Championship, India are at the top with the England home series to go, while Australia drop to #3 with a South Africa 3-match series to happen…somewhere (Australia virtually out of the WTC).
The India-Australia rivalry has taken the next step and few are even calling for a 5 match series. I am not sure if that should happen in the COVID environment and strict quarantine days, but definitely a possibility in the future.
Ashes 2005 Comparsion
Is the 2020-21 India vs Australia series the greatest test victory of all time? Probably not.
Ashes 2005 is usually hailed as the pinnacle of Test cricket extravaganza and rightly so. Both teams at their peaks, Australia’s 2005 meriting Top 2 All Time status (a squad which maybe only Steve Smith & Pat Cummins could have made), full crowds inspiring the next generation, England winning the Ashes (2-1) for the first times since 1986-87.
- Was India’s Melbourne victory the greatest comeback of all time as the cricket Twitter family suggested at the time? No. Not even close.
- Was India’s draw the greatest match saving draw of all time? Nope.
- Was India’s chase at the Gabba the highest ever or the most enthralling? Nah.
- The 36 All Out worst collapse of all time? Almost, but not really.
Legacy of the India Vs Australia 2020 Series
But the fact that all of the above happened in the same series under the backdrop of COVID-19 and depression around the world (both economically & mentally speaking).
India 36/9 at Adelaide, Kohli going home, Ishant-Umesh-Bhuvi-Shami-Bumrah less India, without the stars of Sydney in Jadeja, Ashwin, & Vihari, Siraj battling father’s bereavement & racial abuse. Gabbatoir breached. You cannot predict this. None of us could have.
So let me ask this again—Was the 2020-21 India-Australia the greatest ever Test series? No, but in terms of the context and stories, this may as well be the greatest story of them all.
Why compare anyway? I am just glad we have both series to cherish in our memories forever.
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Copyright (2021: 1/12/2021)– @Nitesh Mathur, aka Nit-X – email@example.com
Image Courtesy: Hazlewood – www.davidmolloyphotography.com from Sydney, Australia, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons