Chasing 328 runs to complete a historic triumph, the visitors lost Ajinkya Rahane when they still needed 161 runs to win. Nevertheless, Team India had the resilient Cheteshwar Pujara at the crease and the hard-hitting Pant to follow.
Rahane’s wicket brought the 23-year-old to the crease with just 20 minutes remaining for tea. Talking to Harsha Bhogle on Ajinkya Rahane’s Facebook page, the 32-year-old revealed that he advised the left-hander to play out the period before tea and then play his natural game in the final session.
“When Rishabh was walking in and I was going in the dressing room, I told him, ‘There are 20 minutes left to tea, play these 20 minutes out really well, and after tea, do whatever you want. Just play your game.’ So we were thinking about that, playing our individual game,” Ajinkya Rahane said.
Following his captain’s advice, Pant saw off the Australian bowlers till tea. With 140-odd runs required in the final session, the 23-year-old started playing his shots and formed crucial partnerships with Pujara and Washington Sundar.
Fittingly, it was Pant who scored winning runs as his unbeaten 89* ended Australia’s 32-year-old dominance at the Gabba.
Requiring another 324 runs coming into Day 5, Team India lost the big wicket of Rohit Sharma early. However, Shubman Gill played a phenomenal knock of 91 and added a crucial 115 runs for the second wicket alongside Pujara.
After Gill’s unfortunate dismissal, Ajinkya Rahane sensed that Team India still had an outside chance of chasing down the target. Instead of going into a shell and playing for a draw, the 32-year-old took the attack to the opposition bowlers.
Although the 32-year-old was dismissed for 24 runs, he scored quickly at a strike-rate of 109.09. This ensured that Team India had the momentum even after losing Rahane.
“I remember when Pujara was batting and I walked in, I told him, ‘Just play the way you like. You play your normal game and I am just going to attack and play positive cricket. If I can get 30-40 quick runs here, we have a game in hand.’ I got out on 25 odd runs, but we got that momentum,” Ajinkya Rahane asserted.
Going into Day 5 at the Gabba, Team India knew that even a draw would have been enough for them to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Faced with the daunting task of chasing a target in excess of 300 runs, the visitors could have easily resorted to blocking everything that came their way.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 23, 2021
However, Ajinkya Rahane’s Indian team were ready to create history and end Australia’s supremacy at the Gabba. As they say, fortune favours the brave, and Team India were rewarded for dreaming big. They achieved the impossible, and against all odds, won the series 2-1.