4-0 That is All

We were at the receiving end of that score-line twice last season. In England we were were walloped – we were injury stricken, without our best opening pair, without our main bowler – we were a lost cause.

In Australia we went full strength and we still got thrashed . That defeat hurt more. Do you have any clue how much that 8-0 hurts? The wounds are so deep that it will take years for them to heal.

The realization that the finest decade of Indian cricket was finally over and the uncertainty of what the new generation had to offer.

The two greats quit – only the lone man standing.

Then we beat NZ at home, lost to England 2-1 where our batting let us down more than the bowlers. And yet there were the bright sparks in Cheteshwar Pujara and Ojha and then Kohli-Dhoni in the last test. If you saw Pujara’s innings in Mumbai 2012 you knew it then that the guy was going to create history in the future.

Revenge against England who were an exceptional side would have to wait – the wounds had got deeper with that defeat with further salt added to them.

Then came Aus with a much depleted side without their greats Hussey and Ponting. The 4-0 still haunted us and with the defeat at the hands of England at home – few of us were fancying big wins against Australia.

Nevertheless the selectors took some tough calls – they had already dropped Zak during the Eng tour, then they dropped Gambhir at the start of the Aus tour, then Sehwag and Bhajji after the first two tests.

The all new-look Indian team took field and what a performance they put up. I could not blog in months for reasons pretty known to you all – but I was relishing every damn wicket and runs scored. Sadly I could not catch much of the action live thanks to my working hours and what was worse was that some of India’s stellar performances came on a SUNDAY – when the whole world rested in front of their TV sets to watch the action live – while me stuck in the Middle East (that awakens to a whole new work week) was glued at my work desk and logged into Cricbuzz online commentary to follow the action. I HATED IT!

Dhoni’s 224 on day 3 (Sunday) in the first test that set the tone for the series – I had not seen such awesome hitting in test cricket in a long time – it reminded me of the time I had woken up early to watch Nathan Astle thrash England and then in a matter of weeks Gilchrist slam-bang the SA in the summer of 2002.

Vijay and Pujara’s twin tons on day 2 (Sunday) of the 2nd test – the epic partnership by those two beat the total runs scored by Aus in the entire match.

The only session when an Indian pacer dominated the batsmen in the series where spinners were making the batsmen dance around – Bhuvi’s 3 wickets in the last session to give India a sniff of victory on Day 4 after day 1 was washed out. You would be lying to me if you tell me that Steve Smith wicket did not give you immense joy!

And lastly it had to be a SUNDAY where it all ended. Jadeja’s fifer and then Cheteshwar Pujara’s 82 (92) on what was deemed to be a horror of a pitch for batting chasing the target of 155 – target similar to that in the 2001 Chennai test.

Needless to say I missed the final moments of all victories thanks to me being at work – it was good to follow it online or on twitter but it was not the same as watching it live and I’m miserable that I missed most of the good moments.

There were many many reasons to celebrate – especially the batting which had been letting us down of late. Every batsman from 1-7 had a contribution to every game – Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Dhoni all got hundreds, Jadeja played a sweet cameo in the last test ensuring that we had it comfortable in the final chase. Sachin was out of sorts but his 81 in the first test did help Kohli-Dhoni en-cash on the platform built.

Ashwin was excellent with his 28 wickets, ably supported by Ojha, Bhuvi hardly put a foot wrong but Jadeja stole the show – brought in for his batting and as an “optional – good to have bowler” – he was the real find of this series with 24 wickets! Barring Ishant and Bhajji all bowlers played their parts well.

There were so many moments to treasure – such as the time when Pujara and Kohli were batting together. Did you salivate at the prospect of seeing them bat for long hours for years together? There is class on one side and sheer arrogance on the other – the calm and the storm going hand-in-hand. It was by far the best sight that gave us a glimpse of how lovely the future of Indian batting looks in the years to come. I’m no longer going to hunt for glimpses of Sachin-Dravid or Dravid-VVS in them – the series has made me realize that I need to get over the beautiful past – those memories will be hidden in a safe corner of my mind and I must make space for the new memories these batsmen will offer. I must move on to rejoice and enjoy this generation for what they are.

And then there was Dhawan’s debut – the only innings I watched at home from ball one and he left me mesmerized with his audacious off-side stroke play; hesitant initially but once he got into the groove he rarely made us miss the man he had replaced – the one who had earned the reputation of turning a game at his will. Dhawan played a blinder and to pull it off on a debut , you have to take your hats off to the bloke. He may well struggle in SA/NZ/Aus/Eng – I really don’t care right now – we must let him have his moment and enjoy it!

The first test match I saw at a stadium was in Mumbai 1993 – when we thrashed England and completed a 3-0 win. 20 years down the line, I’m still trying to fathom what happened today and over the last one month. I’m still soaking in the feeling of what it feels like to win 4-0, and while I’m doing so – all I can do is watch this moment a million times – of Clarke getting out to that peach of a delivery from Jadeja – the series and the moment that defined this lad’s entry into test cricket.

This is a new team – they are going to fail , probably badly when they are tested abroad. I don’t care about that today and I don’t want to think about it. We thrashed Australia – and I mean literally thrashed them; we did not let them dominate any test. We did not let them get ahead in a single test and we never gave them a feeling that they had lost a test they could have won. Barring day 2 of the last test – not a single day belonged to Australia.

It speaks volumes of the effort this young team in transition has put in. Give them some credit, let them celebrate and let them enjoy, let them drown in the champagne and let them party hard – Today !

I suggest you do too!