India hailed as 'immortals', Australia under fire after Gabba stunner

Published January 20, 2021
India's players and officials celebrate with the winning trophy at the end of the fourth cricket Test match between Australia and India at The Gabba in Brisbane on January 19. — AFP
India's players and officials celebrate with the winning trophy at the end of the fourth cricket Test match between Australia and India at The Gabba in Brisbane on January 19. — AFP

India's cricketers were hailed as "immortals" on Wednesday following their record-breaking win in Brisbane, but some former greats called for chastened Australia to make changes.

India thrillingly achieved their 328 target with just 18 balls left on the final day to win the four-Test series 2-1, the highest successful run chase at Australia's “Fortress Gabba”, where the hosts had been unbeaten for 32 years.

“It was the day when The Irrepressibles became The Immortals,” declared News Corp's veteran cricket writer Robert Craddock.

“The day when Fortress Gabba was stormed by a group of cavalier raiders who kicked down the draw bridge, stole the crown jewels and raced off into the late afternoon sunshine towards hysterical fans who will cherish the memory forever.

“Take it all India. You deserve it.”

India's refusal to play for a draw, which would have been enough for them to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, was lauded.

“The outcome was a revelation: Australia pressed for victory because they had to, India because they wanted to, and the result was a fitting climax to one of the most extraordinary series of all time,” wrote Gideon Haigh in The Australian newspaper.

'Huge fallout'

Most were united in their praise of India, but there was also criticism of Australia.

“I think there'll be a huge fallout from this,” said leg-spinning great Shane Warne, commentating on TV, noting that India had been without their entire frontline bowling attack through injury.

“There's not too many times that you lose to the second or third side,” he said. “Tactics will come into question. Bowlers will come into question. People's spots in the team will come into question.”

Mitchell Starc, who bowled 16 wicketless overs for 75 on the final day, came in for particular criticism after taking just 11 wickets in the series, with some saying captain Tim Paine had lost faith in the left-arm paceman.

“I know that your impact bowlers are meant to come in and have a little burst, but there just doesn't seem to have been the trust that Mitchell Starc's going to do the job,” said former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.

Former Australian captain Mark Taylor said: “You can have Starc when he's bowling at his best, but I think we need some subtlety in our bowling.

“We need someone who can swing the ball a bit, someone who can ask questions around lbw or bowled, not always looking to bounce batsmen out or get them caught behind,” Taylor said.

Australia should look to bowlers such as the South Australian fast-medium pair Chadd Sayers and Daniel Worrall, who would add something different to the current three-pronged pace attack, said Taylor.

“There's a lot of talk about Australia not being aggressive enough, but I don't agree with that,” Taylor said. “I think we need to find some subtlety in our bowling attack.”

Some said that Australia should be thanking India for their skill and courage in coming to play the series at all during a global coronavirus pandemic.

“We mightn't be thanking you in five years when you're still whisking away matches from under our noses, but thanks for now, and take a bow,” said the Sydney Morning Herald's Greg Baum.

“By series end, few Australians would have begrudged you whatever spoils you took home.“

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