Check of character

Melbourne, December 29

The Indian cricket team recorded a win for the ages under the inspirational Ajinkya Rahane, beating Australia by eight wickets in the second Test to level the four-match series 1-1 here today.

The target of 70 is never really challenging, but for a team that was bowled out for its all-time low score of 36 only 10 days ago, its fans can’t be blamed if they were nervous when India’s chase started.

Australian captain Tim Paine congratulates Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane after the match. AP/PTI

However, after two early wickets, Shubman Gill (35 not out) and skipper Rahane (27 not out) easily knocked off the runs to complete the victory. This was India’s second consecutive win in a Test at Melbourne. The Melbourne Cricket Ground, where India have four wins to their name, is now the overseas venue with the most wins for India.

The quartet of Jasprit Bumrah (2/54), debutant Mohammed Siraj (3/37), Ravichandran Ashwin (2/71) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/28) deserve credit for the consistency they showed over 100 overs on a flat wicket, where extra bounce became their go-to weapon.

“The talk was all about showing attitude, intent and character. One hour took the game away from us in Adelaide, but we still have a lot to learn,” Rahane, the Man of the Mach, later said.


Since the dawn of the new millennium, Indian teams have registered some memorable overseas victories and, in the backdrop of this Test match, this win would rank very high on the list for a number of reasons: Bowled out for 36 in the previous Test, they were without Virat Kohli; the injured Mohammed Shami out of the series; Umesh Yadav too suffered an injury and bowled only 3.3 overs in the second innings; finally, India had two debutants in their ranks, Gill and Siraj. Rahane and his magnificent men will find more than an honourable mention in the pages of Indian history.

“Really proud of all the players, credit to our debutants Gill and Siraj. The way they showed character was amazing,” Rahane said.

The Indian teams of the past tended to lose stomach for a scrap after humiliating defeats but not this one. It stood out for the manner of its comeback in the absence of Kohli and Shami, and the calf muscle injury to Yadav, which reduced their five-pronged bowling attack to four men.

Aussie tail wags

Today, after giving a three-over spell to Bumrah, Rahane understood that the old ball was not doing anything and took him off the attack to keep him fresh for the second new ball. It was another great tactical decision as Bumrah bounced Cummins to end the seventh-wicket stand that consumed more than 36 overs. The second new ball did the trick as Cummins (22 off 103 balls) and Cameron Green (45 off 146 balls) were dismissed after their frustrating 57-run stand. It was a well-directed bouncer at the Cummins’ body and he could only fend the ball to Mayank Agarwal at second slip. Green tried to pull Siraj but the extra bounce did him in as Ravindra Jadeja, fielding at midwicket, timed his spot jump to perfection ending the batsman’s vigil.

Siraj and Ashwin then mopped up the tail setting a total of 70 for their batsmen.

The victory was unquestionable but again it was, again, Rahane who coolly marshalled the chase, with the steady and confident Gill. Rahane pulled the second ball he faced for a four, off Cummins, showing the intent which let Gill blossom in that short period of time.

It was only fitting that Rahane fought fire with fire during his brief knock and it was fitting that he struck the winning runs. — TNS, PTI

“Fantastic win

To win a Test match without Virat, Rohit, Ishant & Shami is a terrific achievement. Loved the resilience and character shown by the team to put behind the loss in the 1st Test and level the series. Brilliant win. Sachin Tendulkar

What a win this is, absolutely amazing effort by the whole team. Couldn’’t be happier for the boys and specially Jinks who led the team to victory amazingly. Onwards and upwards from here. Virat Kohli

Fantastic win for the Team India at the MCG. Character and composure shown throughout the game. Rohit Sharma

Hats off to Indian cricket team, what a fantastic game after playing poor cricket in Adelaide, you made us proud. Ajinkya Rahane, you and your team, proud of you, you didn’t have your captain but you showed the way and carry on doing that, well done. Kapil Dev

Third Test will remain in Sydney

Sydney: Cricket Australia today decided to retain Sydney as the venue for the third Test against India, ending speculation that the game could move to Melbourne because of stringent Covid-19 border restrictions that would have affected the players’ movement for the fourth match in Brisbane. The third Test is to be held from January 7.

Australia fined for slow over-rate

Melbourne: Australia were fined 40 percent of their match fee and penalised four ICC World Test Championship points for maintaining a slow over-rate in the second Test.

“Very disappointed, played poor cricket, sloppy cricket. Let’s not take anything away from India, they forced us to make mistakes. They bowled beautifully, we haven’t adapted as well as we would’ve liked. Disappointed as a batting group, two Tests to go” — Tim Paine

“Would’ve been easy for us to get bogged down thinking about Adelaide, but we decided to not do that. Wanted to come in with intent and attitude. Collective effort of individuals was the message. We knew we’d get the results if we did that> — Ajinkya Rahane

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