India Hit Back To Crush Australia In Melbourne By 8 Wickets, Level Test Series 1-1!


India have come back in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy Test Series with a resounding victory in the second test in Melbourne today, defeating Australia by 8 wickets. A sweet revenge for the debacle in Adelaide, striking back with the same victory margin. But for the specter of 36-all-out the visitors could perhaps have won the first test too. And, the specter loomed large again today when two Indian wickets fell for 19, chasing a paltry victory target of 70 runs. Fortunately, the Starc-Cummins-Hazelwood threat did not become a reality again as captain Ajinkya Rahane, the hero and the player-of-the-match, joined debutant opener Shubman Gill who continued to be confident and as solid as in the first innings. The victory came in the 16th over and the Test Series is now one-all with two tests to follow.

 

We mentioned in our last post on cricket that the top-form Indian bowlers just needed that much support from the batsmen to not allow the opposition snatch a sudden-death victory. Rahane along with Jadeja, Gill and Pant ensured that. It had been an incredible performance of the bowlers, continuing from the Adelaide test, to get the visitors out for 195 and 200 in the first and the second innings on their home turf. More so, because the hosts won the toss at the MCG, elected to bat first and obviously aimed at putting up a commanding total in the first innings, with India to bat last. Jasprit Bumrah with 4 scalps, Ashwin with 3 and Siraj with 2 never allowed the Aussies to get a foothold at any stage of the innings. Perhaps, the consistent failures of Steve Smith contributed largely for this, and the Indians should well be wary of him in the remaining two test matches.

 

Captaining the team in the absence of Kohli, Rahane finally bloomed in this tour and led from the front in all spheres of the match: restored full faith in Ashwin, arguably the top spinner of India at the moment who, unfortunately, would perhaps have been rested in the first test but for the injury of Jadeja; made strategic bowling changes giving the bowlers longer overs at a stretch and intelligent field placements; made the huddles much more interactive; and of course, scored that superlative century of 112 runs in the first innings allowing his team to take a crucial lead of 130 runs. His performances as the captain give a powerful argument in favor of having a split-captaincy regime for the shorter and test formats for Team India too. His leadership in the remaining two matches would be crucial for this.

 

There are a few concerns too for the visitors: consistent failures of Mayank Agarwal as an opener and Cheteshwar Pujara yet to prove his mettle; the place for Hanuma Vihari is also in question. If Rohit Sharma does join the team from the third test Mayank can be replaced seamlessly; else, KL Rahul who has been in top form in the shorter games should get a much-awaited look-in.

 


Team India has ended an unprecedented year of 2020 with a rollicking victory and should immensely look forward to starting the New Year with promise and high spirit. The third test match starts from January 7, 2021, the decision about the final venue is yet to be taken. The match was originally scheduled in Sydney, but the outbreak of cases of the mutant COVID-19 strain in the region favours Melbourne being retained as the venue for the third test too, a rare feat of having back-to-back tests at the MCG. Meanwhile, attendance of crowds at the MCG is capped at 30 thousand per day which is set remain in force for the upcoming match too, if Melbourne gets it. 

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