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Adelaide 2014 - This team's moment

This moment has been a long time coming. It nearly was Lords 2014, but that proved a false dawn. Perhaps I'm wrong, and this too is only a portent of that moment yet to arrive, but there was something about the 5th day's play that was different.

This was a different Indian team. It was a team playing in the imprint of its new Captain. Kohli had been all kinds of confused from the start. Small sample size notwithstanding, I don't know how much can be gleaned of his captaincy from one single game. Objectively, he struggled with the bowling changes, with field settings and with leading the execution of team plans. Part of that blame must also fall on the bowling unit and the lack of intent and discipline from all barring Ishant Sharma was not something Kohli could do much about. It is somewhat surprising even that he didn't yell and shout and jump up and down a little more in frustration while India was bowling in both innings. The other major tactical mis-step was made before the test even began, and was the picking of Karn Sharma to debut over either of Ashwin or Jadeja. My preference would have been for Ashwin, but either of those two would have offered more bite and attack, especially with the rough, and could have applied pressure during Australia's 2nd innings on the 4th day, over and above their batting abilities of course.

Nonetheless, where Kohli did not falter, where he tore apart the cobwebs and burst forth in fact, was his aggressive mindset and his stupendous batting. Take a moment to consider that he scored 141 in the 4th innings of the 5th day of a chase in Australia. Two batsman on 99*, in the middle of a century plus stand, challenging a total of 364 on a 5th day Aussie pitch in the 4th innings. For the Indian batting lineup, which is by no means a normal state of affairs. There were some terrible decisions - Dhawan and Rahane in point, and will hopefully move the BCCI toward accepting DRS. It is nothing but pig-headedness to continue to oppose it. DRS may not be perfect, but it certainly can have a positive role in eliminating howlers and allowing teams recourse in those instances. There were brain fades too from Rohit Sharma and Wridhimman Saha. Rohit in particular continues to disappoint, time and time again displaying a lack of forethought.

There was something about the 5th day's play that will stay etched for a while. There haven't been many of those tests over the last 4 years. Ones where India's performance has left an indelible mark over, particularly overseas. Consistently over a series perhaps the last time was the South African tour in 2011. For India's 90's era fans, overseas series have been replete with failures of multiple varieties and hues. Thrashings thrown in among sparkling individual performances, the occasional fighting draw and the heart-breaking 'nearly there, on-the-cusp, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory types of performances'. Then there was the VVS and Rahul show at Eden Gardens in 2001. That was the moment of that generation. The moment it began, and set in motion a decade of excellence, fight, redemption and glory. It was followed by Adelaide 2004.

Ten years on we are back at Adelaide. This team has struggled. While for the die-hard fan it is hard to feel completely indifferent or to lose affection and fervour, it all still goes through cyclic ebbs and flows. I've been waiting to feel about this team, the way I did about that 2001, 2004, 2011 team. That was my team. The team that coursed through my veins and kept me awake at night, making me scream obscenities at TV screens continents away. Watching the 5th day's play brought me right back. After watching some near misses and almost there moments in South Africa, New Zealand, and then to come to Lords and watch India win, made me believe this team was right there - on the cusp of becoming the team again. But they crumbled over the next three tests, faulty tactics, poor execution and out of form.

Not at Adelaide though. It has been a long time since a loss has been such cause for optimism and hope. Kohli had imprinted his fight all over the teams chase. The 4th innings was only another innings. The rampaging Nathan Lyon was swatted away. The pace battery was inconsequential. He may as well have been batting at the Kotla. This teams time has arrived. They are going to fight and challenge. They are probably going to lose some more, fight for more draws and eventually win some of these epic matches. For make no mistake, Adelaide was an epic test match, a classic for the ages.

It really does feel somewhere that this team has arrived.

Post Script - A more befitting test could not have taken place to honor the memory of a fallen cricketer. RIP Phil Hughes.

This post first appeared on The Answer Is 42, please read the originial post: here

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Adelaide 2014 - This team's moment


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