After 47 days of some of the best cricket we have witnessed in a long time, Team India won the prestigious 2020-21 Border Gavaskar Trophy. They did so by breaching Ausrtalia’s Fortress Gabba – a venue the hosts hadn’t lost in 32 years – by chasing down a daunting 328-run target with three wickets to spare.
Without Virat Kohli, Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja at various junctures during the tour, Team India were expected to face the same fate Australia faced during the visitors’ previous tour down under.
Yet, the injury-depleted visitors, who had all but two players from their first-choice playing-XI throughout the series, Ajinkya Rahane‘s men displayed admirable grit and character to win two of the last 3 Tests to win the series.
Test cricket at its best.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 19, 2021
All of this happened after Team India received a drubbing in the opener in Adelaide, where they were bowled out for their lowest ever total of 36, which makes the series win even more special. Team India were also benefitted by the contributions from every player in the series at some point or the other.
On that note, let us have a look at the ratings of every Team India player who featured in the just-concluded 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Prithvi Shaw‘s horrific IPL run continued down under as well, as the 21-year old got dropped from the playing XI after failing to get going in the first Test in Adelaide.
His lack of footwork was brutally exposed, as he only face six balls in the two innings, scoirng a meagre four runs. With the other Team India openers performing better than Shaw, it could be a while before the youngster makes another appearance in the longest format of the game.
Mayank Agarwal entered the Test Series on a high. He was coming off a successful run in the limited-overs series, and he also had happy memories from his last tour of Australia, where he was one of Team India’s architects in their historic series win.
However, his performance was disappointing, to say the least. Just like Shaw, Agarwal struggled to face the new ball and could not give Team India the start they would have liked from him.
After scoring only 32 runs in four innings as an opener, he was dropped in favour of Rohit Sharma in the next Test. He was back in the team for the fourth Test – albeit in the middle order – where he produced a decent knock of 38 in the first innings. But he would have to fight hard to gain back his place as an opener for Team India.
In just three Test matches, Shubman Gill has gone from being Team India’s most prominent prospect to being their first-choice opener in Test Matches. The intent he showed from the very first ball he faced at the MCG and his immaculate strokeplay has garnered him fans and former players alike.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how good was this from Shubman Gill?
🎥 Cricket Australia pic.twitter.com/XkmMxcgFKL
— The Field (@thefield_in) January 19, 2021
With 259 runs in six innings at a fabulous average of 51.80 against a full-strength Australian bowling attack, Gill has entered the big league with a bang. His knock of 91 in the fourth innings of the Gabba Test especially helped Team India gain the upper hand in the match.
While not as impactful as he was expected to be, Rohit Sharma produced decent performances in the two Tests he played.
Back in the squad after a rehab and a two-week quarantine, the Hitman played his part well, chipping in with valuable runs in three of his four innings. His knock of 52 on the fourth day of the third Test, in particular, helped Team India produce their great escape the next day.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 16, 2021
A total of 129 runs in four innings might not sound too appealling, but the importance of those runs are realised when he, along with Gill, provided Team India decent starts, especially in Sydney.
India’s silent assassin, Cheteshwar Pujara, is slowly taking over the role as the ‘New Wall’ of Team India in Test maches.
Despite his struggles in the first two Tests, Pujara made sure he held one end for Team India at all times. He played 928 balls in eight innings and stayed on the pitch for a 20 hours and 28 minutes – more than 2.5 days of Test cricket.
His twin fifties in the third Test helped Team India strengthen their grip in the match. Pujara’s gritty 56 in the fourth Test, where he endured blows to almost every part of his body, made sure Team India had a platform to go for the win.
Cheteshwar Pujara, bruised, but not beaten 👊
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) January 19, 2021
Despite failing to convert any of his starts into a hundred, Pujara played a huge part in Team India’s brilliant performance down under.
Virat Kohli, Team India’s regular Test captain, was conspicuous by his absence in the majority of the 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar series, as he returned home for the birth of his daughter after playing the first Test in Adelaide.
However, he made sure he left his mark in that game, scoring a sensational 74 in the first innings to help Team India start the series with a bang. Kohli did, however, fail when Team India succumbed to their lowest ever Test total in the second innings.
WHAT A WIN!!! Yessssss. To everyone who doubted us after Adelaide, stand up and take notice. Exemplary performance but the grit and determination was the standout for us the whole way. Well done to all the boys and the management. Enjoy this historic feat lads. Cheers 👏🏼🇮🇳 @BCCI pic.twitter.com/CgWElgOOO1
— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) January 19, 2021
His absence in the remainder of the series did leave a huge hole in the middle order, but the players who came in in his place stood up well. Nevertheless, Kohli’s performance in the only Test he played in the series was brilliant.
Leading Team India seemed to have brought the best out of Ajinkya Rahane. He not only led the team by example but also played with more confidence than he has done in recent times.
Rahane’s knock of 112 at the MCG, after the horrors of Adelaide, was easily one of the best knocks produced by a Team India player in Australia in recent times.
Much like Pujara, Rahane chipped in with valuable runs in almost every match too. The biggest highlight of his tour, however, were his decisions as captain.
Ajinkya Rahane presented Nathan Lyon a signed shirt from the Indian team to celebrate him reaching 100 Tests.
A lovely touch 👏pic.twitter.com/Oz5Bq4Uh1P
— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) January 19, 2021
The bowling changes in the second Test, Rishabh Pant’s promotion in the third Test, and his charge when he came out to bat in the final innings of the tour all attracted praise from fans and former players.
Despite all the criticism he received for his performances in the first two Tests, Hanuma Vihari emerged a champion for his exploits in the third Test in Sydney. His knock of 23 runs off 161 balls, with an injured hamstring, helped Team India eke out a highly-creditable draw.
Along with Ravichandran Ashwin (more on him later), Vihari stayed at the crease for more than four hours, batted for two full sessions, and eventually saved the Test for India.
— Hanuma vihari (@Hanumavihari) January 19, 2021
His injury might have ruled him out for the last Test, but his stock as a lower middle-order batsman is at an all-time high after his heroics in Sydney.
Team India’s first-choice wicket-keeper coming into the series, Wriddhiman Saha, featured in only one Test. His performance in that game in Adelaide was mediocre, as he managed only 13 runs in two innings.
He was dropped from the playing XI in the next match in favour of Rishabh Pant and only returned to the field as a substitute keeper in the second innings of the third Test.
Saha did leave his mark as a substitute keeper, though, taking four catches behind the stumps. However, with Pant doing well with the bat, the road for Saha is tough ahead, as he would only get a chance if Team India decide to play Pant as a specialist batsman.
Rishabh Pant came of age in the 2020-21 Test series against Australia.
After being dropped from the limited-overs team and the first Test of the series, the 23-year old made a return to the side for the Boxing Day Test, where he provided good support to Ajinkya Rahane by chipping in with key runs. His performances in the last two Tests, however, were simply spectacular.
His swashbuckling 118-ball 97 on the final day of the Third Test in Sydney turned the tide in Team India’s favour. The knock provided the visitors an outside chance of pulling off a miraculous win before Team India managed to draw the game after Pant’s dismissal.
Pant’s match-winning unbeaten knock of 89 in the last Test would easily go down as one of the best fourth-inning knocks in recent Test history .
— ICC (@ICC) January 19, 2021
He did make a few mistakes behind the stumps during the series, but Pant more than made up with his exploits with the bat, emerging as Team India’s highest run-scorer and the biggest match-winner in the series.
The kind of impact that Ravichandran Ashwin had for Team India in the matches he played in the series can be gauged by the fact that Steve Smith had no answer to the spinner in the first two Tests. With 12 wickets, Ashwin was Team India’s highest wicket-taker after the first three Tests.
— Ashwin 🇮🇳 (@ashwinravi99) January 4, 2021
His match-saving partnership with Hanuma Vihari on the last day of the third Test, despite an injured back, was full of character and resilience, as it helped Team India save the match.
No Team India player has made more progress with the bat in the last 24 months than Ravindra Jadeja, who left an impact with the bat in this Test series as well.
His vital knock of 57 runs in the Boxing Day Test gave the visitors a crucial first-innings lead, while his late assault in the third Test helped Team India reduce their first-innings arrears.
Fighting till the very end ⚔️ Tremendous spirit shown by the team 🇮🇳💪 pic.twitter.com/ZEHuaFK1G9
— Ravindrasinh jadeja (@imjadeja) January 11, 2021
Jadeja was his usual self with the ball as well, accounting for seven wickets in two Tests before a thumb injury ruled him out for the final Test. His performance in the field was nothing short of exceptional as well, with his run-out of Steve Smith easily the standout fielding effort of the series.
One of two debutants for Team India in the final Test, Washington Sundar made an immediate impact, producing a solid performance with both bat and the ball. Along with the all-important wicket of Steve Smith, Sundar bagged three wickets in his first Test innings.
His 123-run partnership with Shardul Thakur helped Team India reduce the first-inning deficit to a meagre 33 runs. His knock of 62 runs, batting at number seven, was the third-highest score by a Team India debutant at that position.
— Washington Sundar (@Sundarwashi5) January 19, 2021
Sundar’s batting in the last hour of that game, along with Rishabh Pant ,included an assault on Hazlewood and Starc that changed the complexion of the Test in Team India’s favour.
Jasprit Bumrah, Team India’s leading fast bowler, was unfortunately injured in the third Test and was ruled out of the final Test of the series. Bumrah, however, had a decent series and played his part in Team India’s comeback after the Adelaide debacle.
His six wickets in the Boxing Day Test were instrumental in bowling Australia out in both innings for under 200. Bumrah also contributed to the draw in Sydney, taking three wickets at vital moments.
With two wickets in the first Test as well, Bumrah ended the series as Team India’s third-highest wicket-taker.
This is a win we’re never forgetting, this is a win for the ages! So proud of this team, Jai Hind 🇮🇳 CHAMPIONS🏆 pic.twitter.com/9KzLG28QaJ
— Jasprit Bumrah (@Jaspritbumrah93) January 19, 2021
Thanks to his pace and reverse-swing prowess, Mohammad Shami could have been a game-changer for Team India in the Test series. However, an injury meant Shami bowled only 17 overs and went wicketless.
Umesh Yadav was the second Team India fast bowler to be ruled out in the middle of the series, as his calf injury meant he only featured in the first two Tests.
Yadav’s three wickets in Australia’s first innings in Adelaide helped Team India gain a respectable lead. But he picked up only one wicket in the three other innings before an injury brought an end to his tour.
Much like Shubman Gill with the bat, Mohammed Siraj entered the Test Series as Team India’s next big fast bowler but ended the series as the leader of the team’s bowling attack. Siraj followed up his five wickets in the victorious Boxing Day Test in Melbourne with two more wickets in the draw in Sydney.
His performance with the ball in Australia’s second innings at the Gabba, where he bagged Team India’s only 5-wicket haul of the series, played a huge role in setting up the win for his team.
Bereaved at the start of the series & then going on to make your debut & get a fifer in the same series, Siraj take a bow!
Your father is a proud man and smiling from above seeing his son do well for the country ❤️#AUSvIND pic.twitter.com/8z4TajieyG
— DK (@DineshKarthik) January 18, 2021
Siraj ending the series with 13 wickets in three Tests, not only emerging as the highest wicket-taker for Team India but also as a big game-changer.
Shardul Thakur was unlucky to miss out on the Man of the Match award in the only Test he played in the series, as he produced a near-perfect performance with both ball and bat. With seven wickets at the Gabba, he emerged as the highest wicket-taker in the match..
However, Thakur also impressed with his exploits with the bat, scoring 67 runs while batting at number eight in Team India’s first innings.
Adelaide 2003 : India conceded a lead of 33. Today in Brisbane India concede 33 , when at one stage it looked like they may end up conceding 133.
Great effort considering that Australia’s 4 bowlers had more than 1000 Test wickets to India’s 5 bowlers having 11. Shandar Zabardast
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) January 17, 2021
Thakur, along with Sundar, produced a record partnership for the seventh wicket to help Team India concede only a slender 33-run first-innings lead, which was pivotal in the context of the game.
Navdeep Saini was unlucky to injure himself during the first innings of the Gabba Test, limiting his impact in Team India’s stunning win. He was, however, very good with the ball in his debut Test in Sydney.
Chipping in with two wickets in each innings of that Test, Saini provided the support Bumrah, Siraj and the other bowlers needed. Because of his injury, Saini only bowled 13 overs in the Gabba Test, where he went wicketless.
It is always said, “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.” Today, got to experience that closely with these bunch of lovely individuals. Thank you #IndianCricketTeam @BCCI pic.twitter.com/SD4flhfwrs
— Navdeep Saini (@navdeepsaini96) January 19, 2021
T Natarajan, the second Team India debutant in the final Test at the Gabba, didn’t have as good a performance as Sundar.
Welcome to Test cricket, @Natarajan_91 🤩
— ICC (@ICC) January 14, 2021
However, the left-armer had a decent outing in the series. He went wicketless in the second innings at the Gabba but chipped in with three wickets in the first innings, including the all-important wicket of the centurion Marnus Labuschagne.