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Yearender 2021: Win in Australia, tiff between Kohli-Ganguly biggest highlight for Indian cricket

Against all odds, it was under Ajinkya Rahane's leadership that India registered a famous series win in Australia.

By Newsd
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Yearender 2021: Win in Australia, tiff between Kohli-Ganguly biggest highlight for Indian cricket

It would be fair to say that 2021 proved as a mixed bag for Indian cricket despite the year starting on the highest note possible for the Test side.

Against all odds, it was under Ajinkya Rahane’s leadership that India registered a famous series win in Australia. Moments before India registered an epic draw in the third Test against Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground, skipper Tim Paine had engaged in a verbal duel with Ravichandran Ashwin.

“Can’t wait for you to reach Gabba, Ash (Ravichandran Ashwin),” Paine said, keeping in mind that the hosts had last lost a game at their fortress back in November 1988.

Being undefeated for 32 years at a single venue gave Paine a sense of pride that bordered on arrogance. The injury woes in the Indian ranks only compounded the problems for the visitors as pundits started questioning Ajinkya Rahane and boys’ reluctance to play at The Gabba was indeed due to strict quarantine rules or an attempt to avoid a defeat at the Brisbane Cricket Ground. However, Rishabh Pant’s heroics on the final day, saw India breaching the fortress, and as a result, India won the series 2-1. This Gabba win helped India retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against all odds, and this will definitely go down as one of the greatest Test series win ever recorded in cricketing history. Before the start of the four-match series against Australia, regular skipper Virat Kohli famously remarked “my personality is a representation of new India where we want to take up challenges and move forward with optimism” and this was further established by Ajinkya Rahane who stood in as skipper in absence of Kohli.

The next big highlight was India’s performance in the Test series against England. The fifth match will be played in 2022, but heading into that match, India would enter with a 2-1 series lead and they are on the brink of registering a famous Test win. India’s pace attack outbowled England’s and everyone from Jasprit Bumrah to Mohammed Siraj brought their A-game to stun England on their own soil. However, disappointment followed in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, as India failed to reach the semi-finals. The Men in Blue even ended up losing against Pakistan, and this was the first time that India lost to Pakistan in the Cricket World Cup. The campaign started off on a shaky note as Kohli announced that this tournament would be his last as the T20I skipper.

Performances against Pakistan and New Zealand left a lot to be wondered about even after the dressing room had the presence of MS Dhoni as a mentor. The results can be put forward as a debacle and India’s ICC tournament drought continues on. The T20 World Cup campaign brought an end to Ravi Shastri’s tenure as head coach and he was replaced by Rahul Dravid. “In Rahul Dravid, they’ve got a guy who has inherited a great team and I think with his experience, he can only raise the bar in time to come,” said outgoing coach Ravi Shastri as he ended his stint with the Men in Blue on Monday. Never to hold back on what he actually feels, Shastri leaves a rich legacy behind and lovers of the game will truly be indebted to him for what he achieved, especially in the Test format.

However, the biggest talking point and controversy has come almost at the end of 2021 as Virat Kohli and BCCI President Sourav Ganguly are at loggerheads over the removal of Kohli as the ODI skipper. A day after Kohli was removed as the ODI captain, BCCI President Ganguly had told ANI that he had indeed spoken to Virat regarding the leadership change adding that he had requested Virat to also not give up the T20I captaincy. “It’s a call that the BCCI and the selectors took together. Actually, the BCCI had requested Virat to not step down as the T20I skipper but obviously, he did not agree. And the selectors then did not feel it right to have two different captains for two white-ball formats,” Ganguly had told ANI.

“So it was decided that Virat will continue as Test captain and Rohit will take over as the white-ball captain. I as President personally spoke to Virat Kohli and the chairman of selectors has also spoken to him,” the BCCI president had added. However, Virat Kohli held a press conference on Wednesday and contradicted Ganguly, saying he was never asked to leave the T20I captaincy.

“Whatever was said about the communication that happened during the decision that was made was inaccurate. I was contacted one-and-a-half hours before the selection meeting on 8th for the Test series,” said Kohli while replying to a query from ANI during a virtual press conference. Now, India gets ready to lock horns in three Tests and three ODIs against South Africa. Kohli’s Test side would be looking to script history as they can become the first side to register a Test series win in South Africa. 2022 will also see Rohit Sharma leading India in the T20 World Cup to be played in Australia and one can just hope that India finally brings back an ICC trophy.