Cricket is a religion in India. So it is inevitable for the devotees to be in a festive mood after the victory in Brisbane. The feat is historic indeed to conquer a host at an invincible venue. The Australians called ‘the unassailable Gabba’ stadium ‘Gabbatoir’ where rivals were ‘butchered’. But it was that till yesterday. Till Indian ‘Gabbar of Gabba’ metaphorically ‘ruined’ its reputation, becoming the first team to beat Australia at this ground in over 32 years (and first-ever Asian side in the history). Beating the hosts by three wickets in the fourth and final test, Team India claimed the series 2-1 and retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
From the Prime Minister to the Aam Aadmi, everyone greeted the ‘plunder’ down under with rapturous applause singing paeans for the team. Ironically, around a month ago, the same team was verbally mauled by the ‘devotees’ after a humiliating defeat in Adelaide.
But the tag of religion for the sport explains the impulsive behaviour of its votaries. So putting the awkward past of our mannerism behind us, let’s bask in the glory of Team India’s memorable victories to see if the latest achievement is really the greatest of all?
The Gabba, Brisbane
Australia vs India (4th test, 2020-21 Test Series)
1st innings: Australia 369 (all out) | India 336 (all out)
2nd innings: 294 (all out) | India (329/7)
The analysts call it India’s greatest Test victory overseas on two counts. First, for the team’s ability to bounce back from its most embarrassing defeat in Test cricket in a span of just one month. Second, for the ‘coup’ was pulled off by a bunch of rookies – fearless youngsters led by Ajinkya Rahane – in absence of the team’s key personnel. Climbing a mountain like 324 runs from 98 overs on the last day of the match was no less than an impossible heist for warriors like Rishabh Pant, Cheteshwar Pujara, Shubham Gill and Washington Sundar.
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Sri Lanka vs India (2011 World Cup Final)
Over 33,000 Cricket fans watched the final in the stadium, while the number of worldwide TV viewers went beyond 1 billion, making it probably the most-viewed sports event ever when India defeated Sri Lanka by 6 wickets.
The victory was sealed with 10 balls to spare, as captain MS Dhoni thrashed Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara to finish on 91 not out from 79 balls.
Lord’s Cricket Ground
India vs West Indies (1983 World Cup Final)
India defeated two-time defending champions West Indies by 43 runs. West Indies won the toss and elected to field first. Team India was dismissed for 183 in 54.4 overs. But the bowling unit demolished the West Indies batsmen bundling them out for 140 runs. It was dubbed the greatest victory in Indian Cricket history.
The Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg
Pakistan vs India (2007 T20 World Cup Final)
Batting first, Team India was restricted to 157-5 with Gautam Gambhir alone scoring 75 runs. Pakistan managed to near the Indian total with Misbah-ul-Haq scoring 43 runs but their wickets fell too quickly and they lost the game by five runs.
Lord’s Cricket Ground
England vs India (2002, NatWest tri-series final)
Captain Sourav Ganguly’s shirtless theatrics from the balcony of the Lord’s dressing room remains one of the everlasting images of Indian cricket. That day India snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and trounced England to lift the trophy.
The victory was exceptional for the 300-plus runs chase made possible by an outstanding 121-run sixth-wicket partnership between Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif and a 106-run partnership between Ganguly and Virender Sehwag in the beginning.