Pant Promotion Was a Masterstroke: Who Said What After Sydney Test

The four match series is poised at 1-1 with the Gabba Test to be played beginning 15 January. 

5 min read
Australian and Indian players at the end of the Sydney Test. 

At Sydney, on Monday, a few Indian players who have been under pressure in recent times produced a show of great determination, grit and courage.

The likes of Rishabh Pant, Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin wore down their opposition and took a fair few body blows but stood firm and refused to cede any ground. The world’s best bowling attack were bereft of ideas and their captain was equally rattled.

Ahead of Brisbane, India might be bruised but there is plenty of determination in the camp led ably by Ajinkya Rahane and head coach Ravi Shastri.

However, some of the heroes from the game such as Ashwin and Vihari might not be able to play the next Test which makes the task of winning at the Gabba in Brisbane a tad bit more tougher. Be that as it may, the plaudits for the special performance in Sydney have not stopped.

‘If Not For Injury to Vihari, India May Have Won in Sydney’

Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar called Pant fearless and also believes that one couldn’t discount the prospect of a win if Hanuma Vihari had not been injured.

“Rishabh Pant came in, took 35 deliveries for 5 runs, he assessed the wicket and then went down the pitch to try and hit Nathan Lyon for those big sixes. Threw him off his line and length, that was wonderful cricketing thinking. That's the youth you have today. The youth are fearless, they were not worried about tomorrow, they are very confident about their abilities. And that is what was seen. What impressed me more than the shots that he played, later on, was the way he played himself in for 35 deliveries and saw what the pitch was doing. He also allowed the injury to get a little bit better. The injury gets warmed up when the adrenaline is flowing. Then you don't think about soreness. Once he was a little bit more confident that his injury won't stop him from playing the big shots, he went out and played the big shots and almost put India in a position where India could win,” Gavaskar was quoted as saying by India Today.

Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal in SCG dressing room. 
Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Hanuma Vihari, Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal in SCG dressing room. 
Image: Cheteshwar Pujara/Twitter

“If that injury had not happened to Hanuma Vihari, who knows we could have pressed on for a win as well. We could have definitely chased it down (had it not been for Vihari injury). Look at the post-Tea session when Hanuma Vihari and R Ashwin were looking to save the game. There were so many scoring opportunities. The fact that India didn't take those runs, if there were no injuries, then India would have looked for those runs. India could have come closer. Don't forget there were those mandatory 15 overs after the 83 overs were bowled. At the point, if India had gotten to maybe 350 or 325, then to score 80 runs in 15 overs, India would have given it a go,” Gavaskar added.

‘Pant Promotion Was a Masterstroke’

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting was quite unhappy about the Australian team’s performance but was mighty pleased with Rahane.

“Very good proactive captaincy or coaching for sending Rishabh up. For India to stay in with a chance to win, they needed to do that. He had a little bit of luck with Paine putting him down couple of times. It's not all crash and bang with him, there is a lot of skill involved, and he is proper test match batsman to the point today where lot of the commentators were saying can he play as a batsman in the middle order and have Saha keep," Ponting said. “It was a masterstroke to put him up there..”

India captain Ajinkya Rahane hugs R Ashwin after the Sydney Test. 
India captain Ajinkya Rahane hugs R Ashwin after the Sydney Test. 
Image: Ajinkya Rahane/Twitter

‘It Was A Special Day for Me’

While the former cricketers were busy praising the Indian team for their resilience and also calling out the mistakes on the Australian side, the visiting captain felt the magnitude of what happened in Sydney will only be realised possibly after the series.

"For me this is as good as winning a Test match," Rahane said. "When you come abroad and play a match like this, it was really special. Credit to (Hanuma) Vihari, R Ashwin, the way he batted, (Cheteshwar) Pujara, Rohit [Sharma] at the start and also Rishabh (Pant). I think everyone chipped in for the team's cause but credit to those two guys who batted almost two-and-a-half house till the end."

"If we have to talk about today, Australia was dominating in the first innings but from 200 for 2, they were all out for 330. Credit goes to our bowling unit for taking the last eight wickets in 130-odd runs. Obviously they batted well in the second innings but I think today will end up being one of the most memorable days in Indian cricket. Perhaps we cannot get the magnitude of today's achievement right away but possibly after the series we will realise it. It was a special day for me as a captain. When we play overseas and save such a match, it's a special feeling and I am proud of everyone, the players and the management."

‘Well Played India, See you in Gabba’

Of course, there is one set of people who weren’t very pleased about how India had thwarted their efforts. Australia was rattled and unhappy that things did not go their way in Sydney and will be raring to go in Brisbane, especially with the series on the line.

"A day five SCG wicket usually has a little more rough, a little bit more inconsistent bounce, but when a team blocks out 131 overs, that's fair play to them," Marnis Labuschagne was quoted as saying by

"They batted well, they grinded well, and I think we couldn't have changed much. I'd by no means say it was an off day. We played a (drawn) Test match today but it's a Test series and we're here to win. Regardless of the result of this game, if we won or it was a draw, we had to go to the Gabba and win. So nothing's changed for us – it's a matter of changing our focus and making sure we take them down at the Gabba."

The four match series is now poised at 1-1 with one Test to be played at Brisbane and India are the current holders of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

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