TThe core of the Indian team that beat England 3-1 has been in a bio-bubble since August. Life in the golden cage started in the UAE for the Indian Premier League, moved to Australia for the tour that never seemed to end, and moved to India for the home series against England.
This may seem like a long time, and players have felt it, but the truth is that they have been in a bubble of their own making for much longer, while Snow White was asleep, only with no dwarves threatening. to come to the rescue.
Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri, as captain and coach, have involved this team from the rest of the world as much as humanly possible. In a country where everyone wants a piece of their cricket heroes, the Indian team has come together in a tight knit unit because they believe they know best what it takes to be successful.
Distractions from the rest of the world have caused more than one Indian cricketer to lose his way, and the opinions of experts, coaches and a billion fans have raised doubts even among the most self-reliant cricketers. Not this team. Not this captain. Not this coach.
They believe they have everything they need to succeed within the limits of the players, the coaching staff and the support staff. And, based on current evidence, this is difficult to argue with.
The strongest example of this is Rishabh Pant. Since they brought him into the mix, the team has insisted that he is not just a good player, he is someone who is going to change the landscape of cricket.
While it was blindingly obvious that Pant had attacking hitting skills, there was little evidence that he believed in shot selection. It seemed like he wanted to hit all the balls for six, and that doesn’t even work on PlayStation. More critically, behind the stumps he was often a mess, especially compared to the immaculate Wriddhiman Saha, whom he had replaced.
But with the right kind of butt kick from his superiors and the coach, Pant “worked his back,” as Shastri puts it, and went from roll poly to muscle bunch. With fitness came racing, racing brought belief, belief engendered consciousness, and suddenly the caterpillar had become a creature that floated like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
In the final test of the series, Pant played two innings in one. With India so far behind the game that England felt they had more than a sniff, Pant hit stoically and with purpose.
He was India’s goalkeeper, keeping Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes at bay, amid a spell of sustained collaborative brilliance and pressure. At some point, as humans do in the 37-degree heat in Ahmedabad, the duo weakened and there was very little to go on.
With the threat neutralized, Pant turned aggressor, and although the image of him playing a reverse ramp out of Anderson will be the most reproduced, it was the expression of Ben Stokes midway through and Anderson returning to his bowling mark that showed the whole picture. Stokes, the talisman who could do anything, had just seen someone do something he wouldn’t try. Anderson, the banker who conceded less than one hit on his first spells, had just been mugged.
The Pant Hundred and Washington Sundar’s near-accident were born in the life of the Indian bubble, the one they had created for themselves, not the one they had imposed on them. Here were two cricketers that no one outside the inner circle believed could play like this. And yet they just did.
If Pant’s audacity against Anderson was a sign of India’s belief, it was the kind of shot that team fans had been waiting for. When England landed in India for four tests, they did not expect to win the series. When they took a 1-0 lead, they had done well, but the fans in India do not tolerate the idea of their team losing at home.
That’s why it puzzled fans that England was resting and rotating players, flying to their best home and back, as they tried to beat the # 1 test team in their backyard. While there is an understanding that these unique times require certain measures, to maintain physical strength and mental balance over a period of time, the fact that England would be in full force for the cue ball portion of the tour, and uniformly available for the IPL, it left Indian fans feeling disrespected.
When the third test in two days finished, Joe Root said, “I almost feel like [fans] they’ve been stolen. “And he was right. The India fans were disappointed, but not by the pitches. They felt that England hadn’t played well enough to bring the games to five days, as if England hadn’t cared how much. Enough to take a chance and fight
At the end of the day, the Indian team will take their hard-won spot in the World Trials Championship final, with fans taking the score 3-1.
That’s another thing this team has learned in its bubble. You don’t wait for something to come to you. When you want it bad enough, you go out and take it.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism