Indian Cricket is in a bit of a pickle currently with the constant tussle between Virat Kohli and the BCCI with the former resigning from his Test Captaincy. But it was just a year ago where cricket fans from across the globe witnessed a Test Series for the ages. It was India vs Australia in Australia where a young Indian Team fought the odds and emerged victorious against the Aussies in their backyard. Right from the time of the win, it was evident that this fairytale would be soon honoured on the bigscreen. It was Sony Television that decided to make a documentary on it. And I finished the last of the four episodes yesterday and here is my review of Down Underdogs. Is the documentary worth your time, stay tuned.
Story & Screenplay
Down Underdogs follows the remarkable and inspiring fightback of a young Indian Team on foreign shores. It traces the journey from the very beginning when Virat Kohli was to return to India for the birth of his first child Vamika. And with all the cricket experts calling out for an Aussie whitewash, it was an uphill battle. Through the four episodes, it gives the viewer a glimpse of each of the four test matches in the series in what turned out to be a historic one. With many experts and players featuring in the documentary, the retelling of a famous series just gets a little sweeter with several goosebumps worthy moments. And each and every detail(which the cricket fans would already be aware of) has been meticulously caught which adds a lot of emotions to the already overwhelming documentary. The grit and determination are well showcased here where the viewer relives every bit of the highs and lows through its four episodes.
The documentary did have a lasting impression on me. Yes a part of me might be biased considering that I am a cricket fanatic but this documentary was such an emotional ride. I remember watching the series live, almost every ball. So when India were bowled out for 36 runs in the 1st Test and with our captain Virat Kohli returning home, not to add a few injuries, I too had thought that this may just be a whitewash. But this turned out to be just a blemish as the closely-knit unit just did not budge.
Whether it was a marvelous hundred by the stand in and under-fire captain Ajinkya Rahane in the Boxing Day Test Match at Melbourne who paved the way for a fightback after the previous innings low, or an impressive Bumrah and the new kid on the block Siraj who did shoulder the responsibility after staying back in Australia despite his father’s death, it was an impressive comeback.
With the Sydney loss on the cards, whether it was a counter attacking Pant who gave a glimmer of hope of an unlikely Indian win or the gritty and determined Pujara who consumed enough balls to absorb the pressure on the final day. Or be it the Vihari-Ashwin partnership for the ages who secured a “win-like” draw despite them taking multiple blows and being injured(former playing for 2 hours with a grade 2 tear and the latter battling a backache and coping blow after blow), it was an inspirational effort that had made the cricket fan in me shed a tear or two.
And onto the final frontier at Fort Gabba(Brisbane) which wasn’t breached for 32 years then when a completely “toothless” attack were pinned against the giants in a classic David vs Goliath setup. While the newbies impressed with the ball, another batting effort by Lord Shardul and Sundar(both virtually on their debut) who began the counter attack after the collapse. To Siraj coming off age with a fiver in the 2nd innings to a batting effort to remember for the ages! A young Turk Shubhman screaming his away to a 90 odd to Pujara taking blow after blow yet standing his ground, to a sparkling cameo by Sundar who played the shot of the match for me(a pull over fine leg for a 6 to the world’s best fast bowler) and finally in an innings of a lifetime by Pant who came off age in a miraculous run chase, there were tears rolling down my cheeks. Each time I feel low, I remember the triumph, the victory and that undying spirit that fills me up with a lot of energy!
In the era of T20s, it amazes me how many life lessons Test Cricket is able to teach you. If I were to explain a kid who has never played cricket, the important of a draw after five long days of intensity then it would really be tough. Yet, like in cricket it is important to occupy the crease and keep batting. You have your target in front of you and unlike in T20s, you need not achieve it all in one go. There will be obstacles that either you let go off like a ball outside off stump or take a blow on your body – but do keep batting. There will be opportunities to score – a half volley which you take it gleefully and with both hands that inches you towards your target. But keep batting and battling life, DO NOT GIVE UP – just like Our Indian Team did in a memorable series. The ODIs and T20s will be forgotten but a valiant effort in a test match will be remembered for years to come.
I remember watching 2001 as a kid when an Indian Team after following on had gone onto win the Eden Gardens test and later the series. And how inspired was I! Now in 2021(at the time of the match), Incan imagine so many young kids being inspired around the world. And world cricket needs every one of them! A win that was savored across the world and proved every cricket analyst wrong – this was probably the best series ever played in Test History!
Down Underdogs is a documentary that goes beyond cricket. It is a retelling of a human spirit that refused to die down and chose to keep fighting and live on! Inspirational journey filled with joy and tears with Goosebumps Guaranteed! Available on Sonyliv and Highly Highly Highly Recommended!