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'It felt like Lagaan all over again'

By LAXMI NEGI
January 25, 2021 08:42 IST
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'They came out with an attitude that they had nothing to lose.'
'That's what stands out about this team.'

Team India

IMAGE: The Indian team celebrates with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Gabba in Brisbane, January 19, 2021. Photograph: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
 

Saiyami Kher played a startling range of characters in Web series last year, impressing audiences and critics with her performances.

However busy she was, the young actor didn't take her eye off her primary passion: Cricket.

"I love cricket. I love this sport so much that I have watched matches from times when I was not born," she says.

When India pulled of an exhilarating victory over Australia in the fourth Test at the Gabba in Brisbane on January 19, Saiyami was ecstatic.

'I still can't get over this series win. Don't want discussions to move on so quickly to the Ind-Eng team or the IPL transfers,' Saiyami posted on Instagram. 'This win needs to be relished. Can we put all arguments to rest & agree that Test cricket is the best!'

"When we look at one of the biggest comebacks of all time, this victory has to be in one of the top 5," Saiyami tells Laxmi Negi/Rediff.com.

Did you look at the weather in Brisbane or the score when you got up?

It rained the last session of the fourth day and a storm was expected on the final day. I was talking with my friends that chasing 328 for a win was unheard of. We were talking about let it rain and the rest of the sessions, we can manage a draw.

No one ever thought that India could dash Australia's hopes of reclaiming the (Border-Gavaskar) trophy because of the way the Gabba pitch behaves on the last day.

Why can't you forget this series so easily?

When we look at one of the biggest comebacks of all time, this victory has to be in one of the top 5.

After we were 36 all out, this team was written off.

In the fourth Test, we wondered who would be in our playing XI. They didn't have fit bowlers. Their most experienced bowler was three Tests old while facing a full strength Aussie attack. Everything was against them.

But given the challenges, this team bounced every time.

Ravichandran Ashwin

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin, left, and Hanuma Vihari batted through pain to help India draw the third Test against Australia in Sydney. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

What made you call these cricketers bravehearts?

When I was watching Ravichandran Ashwin and Hanuma Vihari bat on the last day of the Sydney Test, it took me back to when (Anil) Kumble was bowling with a bandage against Pakistan. Or when 16-year-old Sachin was hit on his nose. It was bleeding, but he continued to bat.

The way Ashwin and Vihari were batting, it showed their passion towards their country.

When (Cheteshwar) Pujara was hit on the final day of the Gabba Test, the way he stood there and faced the Aussies's negative body length bowling, he didn't let anything come in his way.

This team literally have given their everything in this series.

'Never give up!'. Has this Team India proved it again to us?

When I get up, I still can't get over it. I still wonder how this team managed to pull this off! More than not giving up, this generation showed that they had no fear.

Like Harsha Bhogle kept saying that his generation would have gone for a draw, but these boys, they do not have fear. They went for a kill!

Ajinkya Rahane

IMAGE: Captain Ajinkya Rahane left, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravichandran Ashwin with the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Photograph: Cheteshwar Pujara/Twitter

Can you pinpoint the moment wherein you realised that Team India was going for a win?

Shubman Gill batted beautifully and post lunch he played some good strokes, but when Ajinkya Rahane walked out to bat and the attacking cricket he played, which is very unlike him, it showed the intent of the team.

His 24 off 22 balls made me realise that they were going for a win.

And after that (Rishabh) Pant walked in, the way he paced his innings at first, then went ballistic post tea, there was no looking back for us.

After 36 all out, you voiced your support for the team and asked people to calm down. What was going though your mind at that time?

Social media had written this team off after the first Test, but when sometimes no one believes in you, that is when the underdogs story comes true. I was really hoping for a miracle.

To think of a drawn series was a huge thing, no one was thinking of winning.

Deep in my heart I knew that we would win at least one Test. Because, when there is so much criticism, it eggs you on to do better.

As a sportsperson, I firmly believe in it. That's when a player says, 'Let me show them what I can do and let my work speak for itself.'

Team India

IMAGE: The Indian players take a lap of honour around the Gabba after their win. Photograph: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

What makes this team most likeable?

The leadership stands out. They played like a team.

Rohit Sharma was setting the field and Jasprit Bumrah was leading the bowling attack. Everyone out there was there for each other. That's what team sport is all about.

It felt like Lagaan all over again because everyone came with their back stories.

Mohammed Siraj stayed back after he lost his father.

T Natarajan was a net bowler who went on to make his debut in all the three formats.

Washington Sundar batted like he was 50 Tests old.

Shardul Thakur had a forgettable Test debut as he was injured after bowling just 10 balls.

Saiyami Kher

Photograph: Kind courtesy Saiyami Kher/Instagram

They came out with an attitude that they had nothing to lose. That's what stands out about this team.

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England's tour of India 2021

England's tour of India 2021