Team India presented an early New Year gift to millions of their fans by thrashing Australia in the second Test with a clinical performance to level the four-match series 1-1 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday morning.
The dominating 8-wicket victory against the high flying Aussies will go down in the Indian cricket history books as one of the most special efforts considering the present circumstances.
India were humiliated by the hosts in the first Test at Adelaide inside three days. They had crashed to their lowest ever score of 36 in the second innings and faced a crushing defeat despite taking a handy first innings lead. With captain Virat Kohli returning to India for the birth of his first child and team morale was very down, nobody had given India any chance in the second Test including some of the former Australian players like Shane Warne.
However, Indian team under new captain Ajinkya Rahane displayed character of steel and firm resolve to turn the tables for the beleaguered team.
Rahane led from the front to play perhaps the innings of his life to change the fortunes of his team and lift the morale of his boys. Rahane’s masterly 112 not only gave India a perfect platform for a big first innings total it also put the opposition on the backfoot.
Achieving a rare feat, Rahane completed three wins in as many matches as a Test captain to maintain a perfect record.
Although Rahane and Ravindra Jadeja made a massive impact with their big partnership on the second Test of the match, bowlers deserve major credit for the spectacular victory. The Indian team management’s move to go with the five bowlers paid rich dividends as India bundled out a formidable Australian batting line-up cheaply in both the innings. The hosts could not even cross the 200-run mark in the match. It underlined the fact that Indian bowlers dominated the opposition and put them on the mat from the word go.
Debutant Mohammad Siraj reposed the faith shown in him by the selectors to return with an inspiring show. Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav did well with the new ball. Ravichandran Ashwin used his experience to good effect to play a wonderful role in series-levelling win. Jadeja proved his versatility by excelling in all the departments of the game.
Another debutant Shubman Gill made an immediate impact with a brilliant batting display in both the innings. Gill, who replaced Prithvi Shaw, looks like has the game and temperament to be a successful opener for the Test matches. Both the debutants’ success augurs well for India in the future.
Australia 195 and 200 in 103.1 overs (Cameron Green 45, Matthew Wade 40, Marnus Labuschagne 28, Pat Cummins 22, Travis Head 17, Mitchell Starc 14; Mohd Siraj 3-37, Ravindra Jadeja 2-28, Jasprit Bumrah 2-54, R Ashwin 2-71, Umesh Yadav 1-5) lost to India 326 and 70-2 in 15.1 overs (Shubman Gill 35 not out, Ajinkya Rahane 27 not out, Mayank Agrawal 5, Cheteshwar Pujara 3; Mitchell Starc 1-20, Pat Cummins 1-22) by 8 wickets.
Man-of-the-match: Ajinkya Rahane.