Picture Credit: Twitter

Picture Credit: Twitter

A year ago, on this day, when Rishabh Pant hit Josh Hazelwood for a boundary to the long-off fence, the whole nation was on its feet, celebrating the historical victory. However, Rishabh might not have realized what he had just done. He may not have realized its worth. For him, it was just a shot that sealed the series for India over the Australians. But that shot definitely lifted up the cricket fans across the country and gave them immense joy. Just like the winning six from MS Dhoni at the Wankhede stadium.

This win was, in no way, less important to the Indians than the 2011 World Cup win. There are valid reasons for this claim, the top one being India's inexperience in terms of the players who were taking on the mighty Australians. Obviously, the record-breaking win at the Gabba was the talking point of the series but little did anyone talk about the process. We often tend to look at the success but ignore to admire the process. Also, this series win did not have a single hero. Multiple characters played their part and lived their moments when their time came.

So, let us go down memory lane to praise and admire the heroes of a historical win.

The Nightmares of Adelaide

India had walked into the Test series having won the T20I series. They were high on confidence but not ready. The testimony to this was their second innings batting collapse. The whole team was bowled out for a mere 36 runs. It was their lowest ever total in Test history. It was nothing less than a nightmare.

A scorecard to forget for India after registering their lowest ever Test total

Another blow came their way when their best batsman flew back on his paternity leave. Virat Kohli was not going to take any further part in the series and Rohit Sharma was still in quarantine.

If someone had watched the series progressing, they would never bank their money on a series win for India. Even a single win could have been an achievement.

Rahane takes control at Melbourne

Everyone was frowning upon and doubting the Indian team. But the quiet boy from Maharashtra had other intentions. He not only led the team but set an example for everyone. He showed how to win a test match on foreign soil with your best batsman out and your team wounded. Ajinkya Rahane took the onus on him and scored a ton in the first innings. He got help from Ravindra Jadeja and India got a crucial lead.

The bowlers did the rest of the job and stopped Australia from getting a big lead. India won the match and the series was now levelled. Harsha Bhogle reckoned this win as the most memorable test win for India.

This was not over yet. The drama was yet to unfold as the teams moved to Sydney.

Perfect Exhibition of Grit and Determination

The convoy moved to Sydney and the teams were ready to lock horns. Australia scored a good total in their first innings; credit to Smith, Labuschagne, and the debutant Will Pucovski. India fought back but could not do much. Australia got a crucial lead of 94 runs. In the second innings, Smith and Labuschagne were the same as the first innings. Cameron Green was also good to score a half-century. Australia got a mammoth lead of 406 runs.

It seemed almost an impossible task to chase such a big total in the fourth innings against the likes of Starc, Cummins, and Hazlewood. Nathan Lyon was standing there as well quietly planning the dismissals of his rivals.

India started well with Rohit Sharma and Shubhman Gill at the top. Rohit was looking in fine touch but he was against the best in the world at the moment. Cummins got the best out of Rohit.

A win was never going to be the option until Day 4. India ended well. On day five, when Rahane fell prey to Nathan Lyon, Rishabh Pant walked out to bat. And we all know how it goes when Pant is out there in the middle. It was a treat to watch Pujara bat alongside Pant. On one end was the rock-solid defense of Pujara while Pant was smashing the Aussies from the other end. Were the Indians sensing a win? Certainly so.

However, it didn't go their way and Pant perished to Lyon and he was definitely not to be blamed. That's how he plays. He is a man with a big heart. Moments later, Josh Hazlewood knocked Pujara over and perhaps the hopes of all Indian fans as well. The show seemed to be over but it wasn't.

Hanuma Vihari and Ashwin were in the middle with some other plans. It looked like the duo had planned to not give away their wicket and they succeeded. Vihari and Ashwin batted, batted, and batted. A hamstring injury, blows from the bowlers, sledging, they probably took everything. On the back of of their heroics, India went on to draw a Test match that seemed to be lost at most moments. India batted for long 131 overs and showed the world what we are capable of.

R Ashwin and Vihari batted out the remainder of overs as Australia couldn't take their chances to draw the third Test with the series still reading 1-1.

Australians certainly did not enjoy a pure exhibition of grit and determination. Frustrated Tim Paine was yelling at Ashwin from behind the stumps. He had asked Ashwin to come to The Gabba, to their fortress, their den. He was so sure to win it there and why would he not be? Their winning streak has not been broken in almost 30 years. No team had won a game at the Gabba since 1988. But, the Indians were there to break every record that came their way.

The Gabba Heist

This was a perfect climax of a thrilling story. It had to give a result. The Australians walked out with a lot of confidence and history backing them. While the Indians were just there to play. Once again, Australia started well with the help of Labuschagne's ton. They scored 369 in the first innings. India on the other hand seemed dull. Rohit perished after getting a good start against Lyon. Pujara and Pant also could not do much.

Hanuma Vihari and Ashwin, the heroes of the previous game, were out due to injury issues. Australia was looking for a massive lead. But, how could it be so easy? They were against the gritty Indians. Two young guns, Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur stood in the middle. They stitched a partnership of 123 runs and took India closer to Australia's first innings total.

These two showed great class and temperament throughout their innings. Shardul Thakur was smashing the bullets from Starc and Cummins while Sundar's no-look six to Lyon was the highlight of his innings. Australia was not ready for this blow. Nonetheless, they got a healthy lead of 327 runs and asked India to score 328 runs to win the match and the series.

It didn't start well for India as Rohit fell prey to Cummins. The game ended on Day 4 and Australia were eyeing a win. Indians were still hopeful if not sure about a victory. The play on Day 5 started. Shubhman Gill was right there in the middle with Pujara. He was looking in fine touch. He was driving the Aussie fast bowlers. Mitchell Starc was his special target.

On the other end, Pujara was taking blows from the pacers. He was getting hit everywhere on his body but that guy did not give up. He fought like a true warrior and stood firm on the pitch. Gill had given India an opening with his classy 91.

Lyon got him out at first slip but the boy from Punjab had already won hearts. Walked out the captain of the Indian team and tried hard to help his partner. However, He could not last long. After Rahane fell, walked out Mr. Pant. He looked determined and dominant right from the beginning. He was playing his natural game but with full responsibility.

Pujara and Pant were now in the middle finishing the game for India. They did not want to leave it undone like the last game. But Pat Cummins halted the chase. He got Pujara out once again with a peach of a delivery. However, it did not bother Rishabh Pant. He was determined to take India home. He got crucial support from the first inning hero, Washington Sundar. They were thrashing the Aussie bowlers and nearing a win.

But suddenly Sundar got out trying to play a reverse sweep against Lyon. It was getting interesting with wickets tumbling at the other end and Pant holding one end. Rishabh was playing probably his best innings. He stood firm and hit everything that came his way. The paddle sweeping to Lyon was a treat to watch.

He finished the game by hitting Hazlewood for a four. A three-decades-old record was broken. The pride of Australians was snatched with the ball disappearing in the shadows. It was over for the Australians. They couldn't believe what had just happened. No one could. It was a heist.

Pant made unbeaten 89 to seal India's three-wicket win.

The fortress Gabba was breached by a bunch of eleven guys; half of which had not even played a series before. It was a massive moment in the history of Indian cricket. India had retained the Border-Gavaskar trophy without their best batsman playing the whole series, with injuries taking a toll on the team, and with five debutants. This was it. The climax was overwhelming for the Indians and equally bitter for the Australians.

From crawling at Adelaide to standing puff-chested with the trophy in hand at the Gabba, these bunch of guys had done something magical. And Justin Langer accepted what the Indians have been saying all along, “Never, ever, underestimate the Indians”.