Border-Gavaskar series 2020/21 will be remembered for a very long time. In what can be called the greatest ever Test series win, a bruised Indian team, with top players missing, defied all the odds to beat a mighty Australian team – making it a perfect advertisement for the oldest and longest format of the game. After getting demolished in the first test match where the team registered its lowest ever total, India showed tremendous grit and determination to produce a sustained fight-back throughout the series. Whenever the team was down, someone stood up to punch above his weight to achieve the improbable.
In a team that was ravaged with a spate of injuries, no one could have possibly imagined India even lasting for five days in a test to give a tough fight to a formidable Australian team. But it was these newcomers, probably none first-choice in the playing XI, showed resolve and blend into the team so perfectly.
1. Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill was named in India's Test squad against New Zealand in February 2020 but he had to wait for 9 months to make his debut for India and what a debut it was! Gill looked at ease as the opening-batsman in his debut match against Australia at Melbourne. With scores of 45 and 31 not out, he was able to highly impress everyone with his stroke-play. Gill played a match-winning knock of 91 runs in the final Test match, setting the perfect tone for the team to chase down the mammoth target of 328. It was not just the runs but also the strike rate at which Gill scored his runs that put the Aussies under pressure. The Punjab batsman played freely which showed in his late backfoot punches and crisp cover drives. The make-shift opener also smashed Mitchel Starc for three consecutive boundaries to stamp his authority at the opening slot.
2. Mohammed Siraj
This young fast bowler from Hyderabad first grabbed the eyeballs when he decided to stay back in Australia even after hearing the news about the sad demise of his father. Siraj’s determination during testing times showed his hunger to perform for the country. The Indian pacer not only made his debut but also finished as the highest wicket-taker for India in the series. In the last test, Siraj was the leader of the pace attack and picked up his maiden fifer. Be it his tears during the national anthem or calling out racial abuse, Siraj emerged as a true hero for all the right reasons.
3. Thangarasu Natarajan
Natarajan wasn’t even named in any of the three squads to Australia when the team was first announced. But an injured Varun Chakravarthy paved the way for the Tamil Nadu pacer to make his way into the team. From being a net bowler to making his international debut in all the three formats, Natarajan had a dream tour. The 29-year-old made a mark in all the games he played, making a huge leap in his career when he made a Test debut at the Gabba. His three scalps in the first innings stopped Australia from making a big score.
4. Washington Sundar
Just like Natarajan, Washington Sundar would not have believed the thought of representing India in Test cricket Down Under. However, this young talent from Tamil Nadu also made his mark with both bat and bowl. After taking three wickets in the first innings, including the key scalp of Steve Smith, the 21-year-old Test debutant hit a defiant half-century putting India in a stronger position. His crucial partnership with Rishab Pant in the second innings has already become one of the most important innings in his brief career.
5. Shardul Thakur
Thakur had made his Test debut in 2018 against West Indies where he could only bowl 10 balls before he pulled up with a groin injury. That injury cost him the Test spot and he was only added to the Test squad ahead of the Boxing Day game as Mohammad Shami had fractured his right arm. However, when he finally got the chance, Thakur made the most of it. It was almost like a second debut in the longer format of the game. After having an ordinary start with the bowl, Shradul impressed each and everyone with the bat. Coming to bat at number eight, Thakur sparkling stroke-play and ability to hit sixes was a treat to watch.