Australia have lost the second T20 against New Zealand by just four runs, some incredible late-order hitting from Marcus Stoinis and Daniel Sams not enough to get the side home.
Throughout this enthralling Test series, starting with the one-hour massacre at Adelaide, India have had their backs against the wall.
Numbed by the utter humiliation of being skittled out for their lowest-ever Test score, they have since been hit with one mishap after the other.
Just consider the following players who could have been playing now at the Gabba but for various reasons have been ruled out:
Other than Sharma and Rahul, all others have played in this series. Kohli left the team after the Adelaide Test – I would have preferred to use ‘abandoned’ in place of ‘left’, but many of my readers don’t seem to like the drift – while others took as much as their bodies could take before they were incapacitated.
India went to Brisbane as a procession of tired tendons, torn ligaments, hamstrung hamstrings, broken thumbs, cramped backs, strained abdomens et cetera. But for the mountain of injuries there was nary a broken spirit nor a dispirited soul to be found.
India had to search every corner of its hospital ward of a dressing room to find enough players to make up a playing XI.
And, oh boy, did they find just the players to turn a series that was already ablaze to a spectacular inferno. Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar and Thangarasu Natarajan made their debuts, though Thakur was not technically a debutant, having bowled all of 11 balls before.
At the start of this fourth and last Test, India were sore and Australia were sorry. By the end of the third day Australia are both sore and sorry, while a brave India have managed to fight through another enthralling day to keep their hopes and the dreams of a billion fans back home alive.
It has been an extraordinary story of a team that had their backs to the wall so frequently that they have started to take comfort from having it behind them. The wall is not the end anymore but a cushion for their backs, a slab that denotes the steel of their determination, a stacking together of the boulders of their boldness, an obdurate obstacle that your adversary may never mount.
The partnership that Shardul and Washington stitched together was not a fluke concocted by lucky rookies; it was a statement of intent, temperament and execution by two accomplished batters. There were no rash slashes, inept fishing or scared ducking. They stood up and stared the best attack in the world right in the eye.
In the adversary’s favourite cauldron some of the drives and punches the pair produced could go straight to the cricketing textbook. It was 217 balls of defiance, valour and disregard for reputation.
With two days to go before the series concludes, the result still wide open with or without the intervention of the rain gods. And this series has already proved a magnificent victory not just for India but for Test cricket as well. With its up and downs, its twists and turns and scarcely believable drama that unfolds almost every session, this series has been a five-week-long advertisement for Test cricket.
Gimme more of this, please.