Smudge was bamboozled by the Indian star’s unusual bowling action!
More than any Test loss that Australia has suffered in recent years, this one has to really sting.
And I’m referring to the loss at the Gabba, not the loss of the series to India.
For India to go home with the Border-Gavaskar trophy, there were two options: batten down the hatches and play for a draw from the first ball of Day 5, or go for a win. That India very astutely took the latter option must really be an affront to Australia.
Remember, this is the Gabba, Australia’s fortress. The last loss at this ground was in 1988 – and that was to Viv Richards’ West Indies. Not even the West Indies team of 1992-93 with Richie Richardson at the helm could pull off a win, struggling to avoid defeat on the final day.
And here you had an Indian team – running on bowling that was more of an apology for a Test attack on paper, and with its main batsman absent – chasing down a record total and winning.
Australia was at full strength, while India had to keep dipping into its reserves, using a total of 20 players in all.
The man who was particularly impressive for me was Washington Sundar. Coming from a regional area in Tamil Nadu, it would have been a massive cultural shock for him to have to perform at a ground like the Gabba. I know the place he comes from.
But this was one of the men who pulled India out of a big hole when they were down and out at 6-186, ensuring that the first innings lead was kept to 33. He took four wickets as well and also figured in a handy stand with Rishabh Pant on the final day.
For a newbie to play in this manner is simply stunning. And that is another reason why the Gabba loss should really sting for Australia. He simply was not overawed.
It is probable that Australia has got too used to turning up on the final day at the Gabba and expecting to win – and never having that expectation denied.
But Tim Paine will now have a lot of questions to answer. So too will the selectors, who seem rather inclined to restrict themselves to a particular set of players and not look far afield.
For the moment, those questions will have to wait. I have to first ask the same question that Clive Lloyd asked of his four spinners after India scored 4-406 to defeat the West Indies in 1976: “Gentlemen, how many runs do I have to give you to bowl at to ensure that you get the other team out?”
After India batted out 131 overs in Sydney and nearly 100 in Brisbane, that question deserves an answer.