Australia vs India 2018-19: Test series result is as much a victory for Virat Kohli as it is a win for the team
Cricket as a team game is full of uncertainties. There is no guarantee for a team's victory even if as a player you have been the best among the two teams playing.
If we go back in time, we will recall many such champion Indian players who tasted success in every aspect individually but not as a team. And that's exactly the reason why the Indian team's victory over Australia today is historic, both for the nation and for a champion called Virat Kohli.
India started 2018 with a bittersweet moment as they won a Test match at Johannesburg on a tough track. At the same time, they threw away a golden opportunity to accomplish something that no other Indian team in the past had been able to do on Proteas land.
But there were signs that this team was heading in the right direction under the leadership of Kohli, who once again proved everyone why he is the best with his flawless century at Newlands, Cape Town. But as it has been the case with many legends of the game, he remained on the losing side once again.
Then came the English summer where all the eyes on the cricketing planet where on Kohli, and he didn't disappoint. He scored 593 runs in a series where no other batsman looked even remotely comfortable. But the song of defeat continued playing back and forth; it was inevitable that a series loss was on the cards with such miserable batting performances from the others.
It almost seemed like Kohli's journey would be the same as that of Tendulkar's or Gavaskar's, to whom he is considered a successor - that of winning individually but losing as a team.
The next big series was the tour of Australia, and since Steven Smith and David Warner's absence was going to hurt Australia it was built up as it was the best chance the Indian team would ever have. But beating Australia in their home is something many legendary teams haven't accomplished, because they have always had a bowling attack that can gun down any opposition.
The Australian tour began with a few holidays on the cricket pitch for the Indian team as they played three T20s before the big Test series. The series was heavily built up and as usual, the eyes of the hyper-cricket fans were on Kohli.
He had scored 4 incomparable centuries and a total of 694 runs the last time he was in the Kangaroos' land, so a lot was expected of him.
Though Kohli missed out on a century on his favorite ground in Adelaide, he looked much happier than last time since his team had won the Test. The following match he scored a one-for-the-ages kind of century (106) at Perth on a pitch that was doing all sorts of tricks.
For Kohli, Team India matters more than anything else, and when his team sealed a victory at the iconic Boxing Day Test at MCG it felt like Kohli was a new man. And by the time Sydney came, it was all too much for the Aussie bowlers to compete against a rock called Cheteshwar Pujara.
Similar to the 2003-04 tour of India in Australia where Rahul Dravid came out of Sachin Tendulkar's shadow, it was time for a new face for the camera lenses to fall in love with. Pujara came out of Kohli's shadow and completed a Dravid-esque series this time around. He scored 521 runs at an astonishing average in excess of 74, garnished with 3 centuries.
But there was something brewing inside that gave the fans a sense of hope ever since India landed in South Africa. Kohli sensed it too, for he had been designing this bowling 'gun' for quite some time. It's his love for fast bowling and Test cricket in general that has been the biggest inspiration for the bowlers.
There were ominous signs for the rest of the world India got itself a new bowling 'quartet'. Jasprit Bumrah became the revelation of the year and so was Ishant Sharma's coming of age. Mohammed Shami kept at it all the time, while Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja played important roles too.
This victory of the Indian team is as much a victory of Virat Kohli's love for Test cricket as of India's talent. He has written a new chapter in Indian cricket's history, and has also managed to add an extra page in his book of achievements.
Because from now until the end of time, history will say that on 7th January 2019, an Indian team led by Virat Kohli won their first Test series on Australian soil after 72 years.Published 07 Jan 2019, 12:57 IST