Senior Indian batter Cheteshwar Pujara has said that the famous 2020-21 Border-Gavaskar series win in Australia inspired young cricketers and brought the country together, adding that it was probably one of the best Test series that he has been part of.
Pujara played a massive role in India’s win in twin Test tours of Australia. During the 2018-19 summer Down Under, he stood strong against the famed Australian trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood to walk away with the Man of the Series award after scoring 521 runs from seven innings.
The experienced campaigner played out 1258 balls and 30 hours during the tour and helped the Virat Kohli-led side become the first-ever Indian team to win a Test series in Australia. Again in the 2020-21 tour, Pujara scored 271 runs in 4 matches and played a few crucial innings in India’s 2-1 series win.
“It (The series win) gave a lot of confidence to all the players and the people watching back home. I’m sure there were many young cricketers, who watched that series and they said that you know if you are working hard if you’re getting better as a cricketer, there could be any time where you can get an opportunity to be part of the Indian team,” Pujara told IANS at the sidelines of the trailer launch event of ‘Bandon Mein Tha Dum’, a documentary on that memorable Test series in Australia, which will air on streaming service Voot Select later this month.
“So yes, it inspired many young players at the same time, it brought the nation together because sometimes when you win overseas, when you come back from a difficult situation, the entire nation is behind you, they want the Indian team to win. So yeah, it was probably one of the best test series I’ve been part of,” he added.
The win in 2020-21 was extra special for Pujara because it came at a time when the Indian team was well short of their main resources due to injuries and other issues.
Before a ball had been bowled, India lost pace veteran Ishant Sharma to injury, while opener Rohit Sharma (hamstring) was ruled out of the opening two matches. They were also without captain Virat Kohli for the final three Tests, with the skipper returning home for the birth of his first child.
In the last match of the series, they were playing without Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Hanuma Vihari, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav. However, young Indian players showed their character and won the series, which was also declared as the ‘Ultimate Test Series’ by the World cricket governing body (ICC).
“Well, both the wins in Australia were really important for us, but the series in 2020-21 where there were so many injuries and many important players were missing from the team. So that one is definitely special to all of us. Many people rated us out when we lost the first test match, many people said that India might lose the series 4-0 or it’s impossible for us to make a comeback,” he said.
“But the entire team showed a lot of character.There was unity in the team, all the young players who got an opportunity performed well. So we played as a team, we played as a unit and I think the credit goes to the entire team and the support staff, the way we dealt with those pressure moments. And that is why we came out victorious in the last Test match,” he added.