Even as the entire country erupted in joy with the spectacular victory for Team India which created history by winning the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1, the sentiment was aptly captured by PM Narendra Modi in his tweet lauding the “stellar intent, remarkable grit and determination” of the young side, which was missing many of its bigwigs.
To many this may have been one of India’s greatest cricketing wins but to someone like me it represents a victory for the indomitable spirit of New India, not just on the field but off it too. Beating Australia in Australia is never an easy task. But this victory was even more special. After hitting the lowest tally of 36 runs at Adelaide, few were backing India to chase down 328 and script a comeback like this. The challenges were immense and not just on the field. Mohammed Siraj was subjected to racial abuse by spectators at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the third test and was once again heckled with racist hurls by the fans at the Gabba on Day 1 of the Brisbane Test. Not just these trying mental pressures and circumstances but even history was pitted against us.
We were defending the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at a venue that has been ominous since 1988. Australia, last lost at Brisbane against the West Indies in 1988. The odds were stacked against us -we were taunted, we were bruised but we responded with resilience, grit and gumption and we prevailed. Many have often written us off as a country. They predicted democracy won’t last too long. They even said Covid 19 would kill millions of Indians. But after two Indian made vaccines being rolled out in a historic effort on 16th January we have once again silenced the nay-sayers.
In the past most would have settled for a draw match and a series tie. But New India was hardly going to settle for anything less than victory. Talent has never been a problem in India but this character, this self confidence and sense of self belief to back ourselves in the face of adversity is new. We were always known to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory but today Team India can never be ruled out. And nor can India, despite the challenges it faces on the borders or within, from China to Covid 19. This ability to take the fight into the rival’s den- Ghar me ghus kar marne ka jazba – be it the Surgical Strike, Balakote Air Strike , Galwan or on the field at Gabba–this represents a mindset that has been lacking in Old India. Perhaps it has to something to with both our leadership and our demography.
India never lacked talent and ability but we did lack a sense of common cause and team spirit. We always worshipped and put individuals above the team. That seems to be changing in New India. Sachin Tendulkar alluded to that in his tweet when he said EVERY SESSION WE DISCOVERED A NEW HERO. If the brilliant knocks from Shubman Gill (91), Rishabh Pant (89 not out) and Cheteshwar Pujara (56) helped us in the last test the performance of Mohammad Siraj with his 5 wicket haul in the second innings was equally special. Partnerships like Vihari-Ashwin saved the match in Sydney, performances by Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur in Brisbane can’t be forgotten too. The stories of these heroes of New India are inspirational and inherently reflect the socio-political churning that is taking place within India. No longer are these heroes from just privileged families or backgrounds or dynasties rather they are those who’ve managed to put performance above parivar. 26-year-old Siraj lost his father Mohammed Ghaus, an auto-rickshaw driver in Hyderabad, on November 20 and he could not return home for the last rites due to COVID-19 restrictions but fulfilled his father’s last dream by putting national service above personal tragedy.
Another hero Shardul , a boy from a modest family who struggled to pursue his passion of cricket- travelling from Palghar to Churchgate just to play the game he loves, made India proud. Shardul became the first ever Indian cricketer to score 60-plus runs, take 7 or more wickets and grab two or more catches in a single Test match. There is a reason why this victory will be remembered for decades to come. It is not just the victory of a cricket team on the field but that of national character on a world stage. Today, a 130cr Indians truly won. Today, New India won.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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