Lokesh Rahul and Rishabh Pant proved their capabilities to themselves
Where there is a will, there is a way. One key element missing from India's game this entire series was the courage and the grit. Not that it was missing from all players - Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin exhibited the mettle at times in the series. In fact, the captain Virat Kohli and the seamers - Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah did it throughout the series.
KL Rahul, who played all the five matches; and Rishabh Pant, who played the last three - just about did it in time. At least for their own sake.
The way Rahul started in the fourth innings, despite wickets tumbling at the other end, just goes to say how different things could have been - had he fired earlier. One clear sign evident in this match, which was different from the first four matches, was his body language.
He played as if he had nothing to lose - exactly opposite of how he must have thought in the first four matches. In those games, the series was open, and so was the opener's slot. Rahul, who is definitely a part of the limited-overs plans, had the cat off the back once India lost the series. The only area of concern would have been his position in the Test side.
But two gritty Test centuries against Australia in the past seasons must have helped him believe in himself. Rishabh Pant played the way he knows the best. He tried defending in the first innings of the fourth Test. The final result was a duck off 29 balls. The main thing Pant's innings in today's game did, was making the entire nation dream. The dream of a world record chase in a series that had taken one thing more than everything else - the team's confidence. Even Joe Root admitted in the final session that his team got nervous after a point.
Rahul and Pant, two of the highest scorers in the IPL, need to make this performance count if they dream of succeeding - and most importantly making India succeed - at the highest level. They should be able to produce such performances when it matters, when the chips are down, when their performances could help the result and win big tournaments for India. It is then, that these performances would actually count.