Under extreme pressure after a paltry 36 runs Indian team were bowled out for in Adelaide, Melbourne test saw a great turnaround as India beat Australia by 8 wickets. The test would be remembered for an inspiring captaincy by Ajinkya Rahane, who was seen to be knowing the exact script for a win down under. The changes, Siraj for Shami, Gill for Shaw, Pant for Saha, Jadeja for Captain Kohli yielded result as all of these players contributed in the win. With this win the series is 1-1 level and can go anywhere from here.
Ajinkya Rahane stands tall
The stand-in Skipper Ajinkya Rahane had his tasks cut out as India would look for a win to straighten things up in a series which saw India down and out in Adelaide, a batting collapse like a pack of cards saw experts wondering what more this series had for the Indian team. Australia, on the other side, looked a confident unit despite not a great outing for their run machine Steve Smith in the first test.
Not all days are same, and that became the story of the Melbourne test as India would win within 4 days to inspire confidence in experts and selectors who were at a backlash post the Rohit Sharma controversy. Australia won the toss to elect batting in Melbourne. Looked like a good decision as India were to play the 4th innings, but Bumrah was in with some plans. He got India off to a great start dismissing Joe Burns caught behind to Pant in the 5th over.
Star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin then removed Matthew Wade in the 13th over before getting Steve Smith out for an 8th ball duck. With this Ashwin became the 5th bowler to get Smith out for a duck in test cricket. Australia would get a respite with performance from Marnus Labuschagne who would score 48 & Travis Head who would score 38. The Australian first innings was stopped at 195 as almost all the bowling changes, field placements of Ajinkya Rahane would work. Bumrah took 4, Ashwin took 3 while debutant Siraj took 2 with one wicket going to Jadeja. Only Umesh Yadav stayed wicketless in the bowling unit.
Coming into bat, India would see confidence in a free flowing Shubman Gill after Mayank Agarwal would get out in the first over for a 6th ball duck. Pujara and Gill would see off the remaining overs of the first day. On the second day, India would move forward before losing Gill and then Pujara within 3 overs/3 runs. It was then on the most consistent overseas batsman of India in recent years to take India forward and he would do exactly that with two 50+ partnerships with Hanuma Vihari & Rishabh Pant and then 121-run partnership with Ravindra Jadeja.
Who would have thought that while Ajinkya Rahane would be the only centurion, Jadeja would be the only half-centurion in the test match, and that makes to the list of recallable facts from the match. Indian innings would end at 326 leaving Australia to overcome a lead of 131. India would get another good start in the second Australian innings as Umesh Yadav would send back Joe Burns for just 4 runs.
Matthew Wade and Labuschagne would then consolidate before Ashwin would remove Marnus with a perfect plan. This was the 3rd day of the match as Australia would lose another 4 wickets in the day, 2 to Jadeja and one each to Bumrah & Siraj. Pat Cummins & Cameroon Green would toil hard for the 7th wicket as they’d add 57 before Cummins got out to Bumrah. Then it was only time and lead calculations, the target it would have been for India to chase down in the 4th innings.
And the Australian innings ended at 200, giving India a target of 70 to win. The Indian innings started and as it would set off, Mayank Agarwal was out for 5. In came Cheteshwar Pujara, India’s specialist test batsman, who would edge a Cummins ball to slip. India 2/19 had the in-form Ajinkya Rahane & Shubman Gill to take them through and they did exactly that. India beat Australia by 8 wickets. This win is also important for the reason that India is playing without two of their key scorers, Virat Kohli & Rohit Sharma and one of their prime bowlers in Australia, Ishant Sharma.
1. Ajinkya Rahane scored his 12th Test Century (112), his second century at Melbourne Cricket Ground.
2. Rahane is the second Indian to score 2 Test Centuries at Melbourne.
3. Ravindra Jadeja scored his 15th fifty in test cricket. Of late, Jadeja has taken the tag of all-rounder with both hands in whatever opportunities he has got in the two aspects, of course other than saving some vital runs in the field.
4. Ajinkya Rahane was the only centurion of the Melbourne test while Jadeja was the only half-centurion.
5. India doesn’t lose a match when Rahane scores a ton. He kept his record intact.
6. This is the third test Ajinkya Rahane has led India in and so far he has kept 100% win record. A headache for regular captain, Kohli?
8. Umesh Yadav got injured in his fourth over of the second innings, becoming the second Indian pace bowler to get injured in the two matches of this series.
9. Pant’s 29 runs in the first innings is the 8th consecutive innings of 25+ runs by the wicket-keeper in Australia. His runs were 25, 28, 36, 30, 39, 33, 159 * and 29 runs. He became the second Indian behind Rusi Surti and 4th overall to do this, behind Walter Hammond & Viv Richards.
10. Catches win matches: while in the first test match India dropped more catches than the Aussies, Melbourne saw Australia dropping many more and at crucial moments of the match.
11. Steve Smith was out for his first duck in over 3 years.
13. Rahane was declared Player of the match for his match winning century.
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