There is a big generation gap among Indian fans. There is a generation that slept restlessly through the fourth nights of the Adelaide and Melbourne Tests. These fans are worn down by previous failures, and recall obsolete details every time India win an away Test, stats and incidents that are so far removed from this current team that they should not be relevant at all. This is a generation of fans brought up on defeat. These fans can relate to the TV-unfriendly anatomical reference that India's head coach made after their 31-run win in Adelaide.
Then there's another set of fans, who have grown up with Indian dominance, who take wins like Adelaide and Melbourne as a given and question India's tactics when they lose in Centurion, in Cape Town, in Birmingham, in venues they have never won at. That history is not what matters to them; what matters is that India have a bowling attack that has a fair dinkum claim to being the best in the world, and consequently a team that can claim to be the best in the world. These fans expect wins, anywhere.
Somewhere in between is the opposition that might give you a fair assessment of where India are at. Of the 14 innings that Australia's top seven played in Melbourne, 11 made it to double figures and yet the highest score was only 44. No one went on to play the one big innings that could have been the difference between a defeat and a draw in a slow-scoring, rain-affected match. While Australia have an inexperienced batting line-up that is missing two of its biggest contributors over the last five years, the inability of the batsmen to convert starts also speaks of the pressure the bowlers kept them under.
After the defeat, Tim Paine spoke of the grind the batsmen had to put in in Perth, and when they were asked to follow that up in Melbourne with another grind, on a slow surface, they were put under immense pressure by a disciplined Indian attack that was also capable of magic balls such as those produced by Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami. You can put in that sort of grind when you have won the toss and are ahead in the game, but the kind of mistakes Australia's batsmen made are likely to happen when you are behind the game against such a good attack.
India have made their share of mistakes in 2018, a year in which they have won four away Tests but lost seven, often coming frustratingly close only to lose out, but no matter what the situation of the series or the conditions, they have won every time they have won the toss. They are winning almost everything at home, and they are giving it a fair crack when away. They are winning everything when they win the toss, and giving it a fair crack when they lose it. So it is perhaps time for the older generation of fans to not make such a big deal of wins such as Melbourne. At least not after the bowling performance in the first innings, after which is was a mere formality for an attack of this quality and discipline.
Virat Kohli knows who to be grateful to. "In bowlers' meeting, I usually just sit and listen," Kohli said after the win. There can't be a bigger compliment.
"It is very important to understand what the bowlers are thinking," Kohli went on to add. "And then in that process you think of Plan B, and you communicate that to the bowlers. That's how we operate. But the fact that the bowlers are all the time dictating those meetings is how you win Test matches away from home. At the end of the day they are running in with the ball so they need to be confident with their fields are, where they are pitching, the pace of the wicket, how they can bowl dot balls, and how they can get wickets.
"That fact that they have taken total ownership of their skill and taken responsibility for the team is what has set them apart this calendar year. Results are there for everyone to see. It is not just talk, you know, they have put the numbers on the board."
In Perth, where Bumrah bowled without luck, he said the plays and misses were all going in the bank. He is an incredibly wise bowler. He knew the rewards were around the corner. And when they started coming in, he barged through the door on day three. If Australia had batted for another session that day, this game would probably have ended drawn, but the incisiveness of the bowling that day was phenomenal.
"That fact that he didn't get any wickets in Perth, and the way he bowled there, he didn't lose heart, he knew wickets are going to come at some stage," Kohli said. "And if you see the other bowlers, they are not trying to outdo someone else. If Bumrah is taking wickets, they are containing runs. If someone is picking wickets, Bumrah comes in and does his job. So does [Ravindra] Jadeja. So does [R] Ashwin. It is a team effort at the end of the day. When it comes together nicely, when it gets you results, it feels wonderful."
So while this win and the one in Adelaide have been as special as any, they were not miracles in the way India's overseas wins not long ago used to seem. These wins have been built on brilliance, but this brilliance is not coming out of the blue. You can sleep easy, Indian fans, if India get their noses ahead in Sydney. This bowling unit is not likely to let it go.