Even by their overall awesome record – epitomized by five World Cup triumphs – the latest victory by Australia in India has to be something very special. Coming in as underdogs – they were ranked No 6 to India’s No 2 – and taking on the hosts who have a formidable record at home the Aussies raised the level of their game to such an extent that they surprised the Indians. Of particular significance is the fact that they recovered from 0-2 down to win the five match series – a feat that has not been performed very often. This once again symbolized the fighting spirit of the visitors. The well-known adage “`no match is lost till it is won’’ is most associated with the Aussies and the never say die attitude was evident during the contest.
What would have pleased everyone associated with Australian cricket was the fact that it was achieved by a team not at full strength. But the newcomers and the veterans – symbolized by Ashton Turner and Usman Khawaja – did their job so admirably that those experienced players who missed out on the tour were hardly missed. Theirs was a triumph for teamwork for every member of the side pulled in his weight when it mattered most. They also showed remarkable temperament in that they were not overshadowed by the big names arrayed against them.
But for all the teamwork involved if there was one man who should be singled out for special praise it has to be Khawaja. The left handed batsman doesn’t seem to have the ideal game for limited overs cricket and before this series he had played 20 innings in ODIs and scored 593 runs at an average of 32 with no hundreds. With the 383 runs scored in the five matches he now has 966 runs with two hundreds, his average has gone up to 42 and his strike rate then just over 70 is now 83. It is all about playing above one’s potential and no one symbolized this more than Khawaja.
England has been installed as early favourites for the World Cup but on this showing the latest team to beat could well be Australia. With the return of Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood they will be at full strength for the showpiece event and the defending champions certainly have a very good chance of lifting the World Cup for the sixth time.