India started the series on a high with a win in the first Test at Adelaide, but only to go down in the second game at Perth. At the MCG, the visitors came out all guns blazing to turn the tide in their favor. After an emphatic win in the Boxing Day Test that allowed the Indians to go 2-1 up in the four-match series, it was always an uphill task for the hosts from thereon.
To add to their misery, India won the toss and batted first in the Sydney Test to rule the Aussies out of the game after pummeling runs in excess of 600 in the first innings. Australia was down and out, with rain forcing the New Year's Test match to be drawn at Sydney. As a result, India won the series 2-1, their first on the Australian soil in their cricketing history of past 71 years touring this country.
Cheteshwar Pujara was the cornerstone of this India win, with useful contributions from Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant, and the youngest batting sensation in Mayank Agarwal. Bowlers continued their usual stuff from the past one year or so, as they responded to the cause in all the required situations.
Here's a look at 5 major reasons that inspired a series win for India.
#5 Mayank Agarwal steps up on the big stage
After a dismal opening partnership in the first two Test matches, India needed someone to step up to the task and deliver the goods for the side. Indeed, Mayank Agarwal, when handed an opportunity in the Boxing Day Test, grabbed his chance with both the hands.
He looked in all sorts of comfort despite it being such a huge stage. He scored 76 to make it realize that he belonged to that level. He not only did good for himself to allow the team to invest faith in him as a reliable opener but also didn't allow the middle-order from getting exposed to the new ball upfront. For very little of him that we saw in the series, he is certainly the opener for the future.
He scored 195 runs in the three innings that he got in the series and looked head and shoulders above the struggling Indian openers, at least on this tour.
#4 Rishabh Pant makes an impact with his fearless batting
After his Test debut at Trent Bridge this year, there were talks about whether the youngster can alter his game to play according to the situation of the game or does know only one way of going about his business. He rather showed it on this tour to Australia, where he adjusted as per the scenario of the game
It was in every game that he reached the 20s and 30s to only throw it away by playing a false shot or trying to clear the fence. But in the first innings at Sydney, he showed more composure and adapted to bat long. He also became the first Indian wicket-keeper to score a Test ton in Australia and broke many such records through the entire course of the Test series. His record-breaking partnership with Jadeja for the seventh wicket was the icing on the cake.
He's still a work in progress with his keeping abilities to only get better, but certainly one for the future.
#3 Bowlers continue the good work from past 12 months
Indian bowlers have rampaged their way in the past 12 months to be recognized as one of the best bowling attacks in the world. Indian bowlers were always at the disposal despite batting let them down in South Africa and England. But this time, when the batting fired, Indian team did play as the number one Test side in the world.
It is a pleasing sign for Indian cricket as they boast of a reliable group of bowlers with very strong bench strength. In the series, especially the pace battery accounted for wickets by terrorizing the batsman with pace and their ability to consistently hit the same spot.
The trio of Ishant, Shami, and Bumrah, were outstanding as they delivered the goods when the team needed them the most. They outbowled the Aussie spacers in their conditions with more wickets and a healthy average.
#2 Relentless Bumrah rises to the fore
If it was Pujara who led India's batting prowess, Jasprit Bumrah was at the heart of India's bowling exploits. It is not too long ago that the youngster made his Test debut against South Africa at Capetown, but ever since he has grown in confidence with his sheer ability to bowl quick and with consistency.
With 21 wickets- most in this series by any bowler, Bumrah has emerged as Kohli's go-to man in the past twelve months. Being an astute reader of the game does help his cause as it makes easier for him to anticipate what the batsman tries to do.
His faith in his ability to execute his plans is an added feature to his rise as a Test bowler. A Test career which is just 10 games old, Bumrah has a lot to offer to Indian cricket in the years to come.
#1 Unstoppable Pujara grinds Australian bowling to dust
This was the major positive for India as the ever so reliable number three batsman came to the party. Pujara laid the foundation for India's major victory. He stood tall ever since the start of the series, especially when the team was pushed down to the carpet. With his sheer ability to bat time, Pujara indeed caused the stark difference between the two sides.
With a staggering difference from his previous tour, he accumulated 521 runs at an astonishing average of 74.43 with three marvelous hundreds through the entire course of the series.
He achieved a major feat as he faced most no. of balls by an Indian player in a Test series down under, He surpassed Rahul Dravid's tally of 1203 balls to play 1258 balls in the entire series and make it a memorable feat for him and the team. Despite series being set up around Kohli, it was Pujara who emerged as India's man to ride them to a memorable Test series victory.