The Battle of Champions: Led by Resilient Rahane, India Comeback
After the annihilation in Adelaide, India made a comeback with a magical victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the Boxing Day Test as the Ajinkya Rahane-led side defeated the Aussies by 8 wickets and equalised the series 1-1 with 2 matches to go. The Bharat Army fans were present in huge numbers to support, motivate and witness the epic comeback win from our beloved Indian cricket team.
The men in blue pulled a rabbit out of the hat with this victory as the odds were stacked against them. After a shambolic batting effort against the likes of Patrick Cummins and Josh Hazlewood coupled with bad luck in the 2nd innings in the 1st Test, where India was bowled for 36, their lowest ever score in Test history, Australia were firm favourites at the start of the 2nd Test.
Virat Kohli returned back home from India’s tour of Australia due to the birth of his first child and in his absence, Ajinkya Rahane took over the mantle of leading the team. Ahead of the match at the iconic MCG, India made four changes from the XI that played in Adelaide. Shubman Gill and Mohammad Siraj were handed debuts, replacing skipper Kohli and the injured Mohammad Shami. Along with it, Ravindra Jadeja and Rishabh Pant were also included in the XI as Prithvi Shaw and Wriddhiman Saha were dropped after poor performances in the Adelaide Test.
Top moments from the second test at MCG:
1. Toss, Bumrah’s new-ball dominance and Ashwin’s first spell-
For away teams, the toss is a very crucial aspect of the game and it is no different in India’s case. India has won only thrice in the last 10 years when the flip of the coin has not favoured them and hence Australia batting first wasn’t pleasant news.
However, losing the toss actually favoured the visitors as the moisture on the pitch helped India’s ace spinner R Ashwin get turn in his first spell. Ashwin coupled with Jasprit Bumrah’s scintillating display with the new-ball meant that the Aussies were 38-3 in the first session of play.
2.Tim Paine - Controversy regarding run-out appeal and Snicko-
In the first innings, the Aussie skipper survived a close run-out appeal as the third umpires gave a decision which favoured the keeper-batsman. It was fairly evident in the replays that Tim Paine didn’t have any part of his bat over the crease and hence the decision from Paul Wilson came under scrutiny. But Paine was dismissed soon after as he could only 6 runs after the run-out appeal on 7 and hence it didn’t cost India.
In the second innings, Paine was dismissed caught behind after India successfully reviewed the on-field umpire’s decision. The Real-Time Snicko (RTS) did show a spike, however, the Hotspot had no evidence that Paine had edged the ball with a spot on the bat.
3. The tail couldn’t wag-
Australia could only amass 40 runs for the loss of the last 4 wickets, surprisingly, the tail didn’t inflict any significant damage on the scorecard. In the last three years, among teams who have played a minimum 20 tests, the tailenders(number 8-11) have the 2nd highest average of 16.5 against the men in blue.
4. India’s partnerships on Day 2-
After the men in baggy green were bowled out for 195, India hoped that would fare better than their batting performance in the first test and take a significant lead in the second innings. Everything went according to the plan as India ended up with a first-innings lead of 131, thanks to a century from Ajinkya Rahane.
The most important aspect of India’s innings was how there were 3 half-century and one century partnerships. Gill and Pujara put up 61 runs for the 2nd wicket after Mayank Agarwal was dismissed without troubling the scorers.
5. Rahane’s run-out-
On the morning of Day 3, Rahane and Jadeja survived a short-ball spell before Rahane’s error in judgement meant that the captain ran himself out. Later, India’s tail could only add 32 runs for the last 4 wickets as they were bowled out for 326.
6.Impressive bowling in the second innings-
The Indian bowlers continued from where they left in the first innings, as Bumrah, Ashwin and Jadeja picked a couple of wickets apiece while Umesh Yadav chipped in with a solitary wicket before he was injured and limped off the ground.
Debutante Mohammad Siraj was the pick of the bowlers with 3 wickets as Australia stared at an innings defeat for a brief while in the innings when the Aussies were 99-6. Cameron Green and Pat Cummins made sure India batted in the 4th innings as they put on a half-century stand.
7. Day 4, India hit the final nail on the coffin-
Australia started the day with a lead of a couple of runs but India kept things tight as they bowled consistently on the right line and length. On a pitch that had hardly anything on offer for the bowlers, they didn’t give Australia any loose deliveries to score runs.
A target of 70 was lightwork for the Indian batsmen, in spite of the early wickets of Pujara and Agarwal. Gill and Rahane counter-attacked the Aussies and completed the chase in the post-lunch session of Day 4.