On the backfoot after losing the first game of the series by a huge margin and without stalwarts Virat Kohli and Mohammad Shami for the second Test, hardly anyone would have given Team India a chance to come back and win the second Test at the MCG. However, the determined Indians pushed all that behind them as they rose to script one of the most memorable Test wins overseas on Day 4 against Australia. Needing just 70 runs to win on Tuesday, the Indians needed just under 16 overs to chase the target with 8 wickets to spare. The series is now level 1-1, with two games still to play.
The day was all about the aggressive intent that was exhibited by Shubman Gill. Mitchell Starc dismissed opener Mayank Agarwal early after he got an edge to the wicketkeeper Tim Paine and Pat Cummins sent back Cheteshwar Pujara off an outside edge but young gun Gill continued the carnage. He attacked as was not fazed by the quick fall of wickets while skipper Ajinkya Rahane at the other end ensured that no other wickets fell. Team India managed to complete an emphatic win after being down in the dumps just over a week ago, which only highlighted the great resilience that Kohli has managed to imbibe in the side.
Earlier, the day began with the Australian tail once again hurting India. After the home team had been reduced to 99 for 6 on Day 3, the fans were hopeful that India could dismiss Australia all out for less than 131 – which was the lead that they had acquired, and win by an innings. However, the lower order put up a brave batting display with the last four batters managing over 100 runs.
The visiting team, who were without Umesh Yadav – nursing a calf injury – did not get much help from the old ball in the opening session on Day 4. Though Rahane rotated his four available bowlers, the staunch sixth wicket partnership failed to break. After grinding the Indian bowlers in the last half an hour of play on Day 3, the duo of Pat Cummins and Chris Green started off positively on Day 4 as well. The Indian camp tried various combinations, but with no seam, no swing and no spin, the job was as tough as it could get.
Green, who has been touted as a player to watch out for, eliminated the LBW dismissal as he shuffled across and came down the wicket constantly. Cummins was solid in defence and played out 103 balls for his 22. The duo kept the scoreboard ticking with quick singles as the Indians saw the lead increase and the partnership cross 50. The duo frustrated Indians for over 30 overs before Bumrah got the crucial wicket of Cummins. He posed a series of questions with the new ball and eventually got Cummins out with a snorter as Cummins edged one to second slip.
The Australians though were not going down without a fight as Mitchell Starc then combined with Green, who scored 45 runs before he fell to a shorter delivery off the bowling of Mohammad Siraj. He was out miscuing a pull to midwicket, while Nathan Lyon got a glove off Siraj as the ball raced down his leg stump. Starc and Josh Hazlewood offered some resistance as the Indian bowlers were short in their lengths, but Ravi Ashwin picked up his 10th wicket of the series as he cleaned Hazlewood with a straighter one that the batsman left. It was the first time since 1988-89 that no Australian had scored a 50 in any innings of any home Test.
The Indians need tremendous applause for the way they managed to fight back and rise after a mentally jarring Test match at Adelaide, where they had been all out for their lowest ever Test score of 36. However, led by calm and astute skipper Rahane, the Indians raised their game and defeated Australia while dominating various stages of the Test match. This was also India’s first Test win of 2020 – after they had lost the Test series against New Zealand earlier in February. The next Test is from January 7.
Brief scores: Australia 195 & 200 (Matthew Wade 40, Marnus Labuschagne 28, Cameron Green 45, Pat Cummins 22; Mohammad Siraj 3-37) lost to India 326 & 70/2 (Shubman Gill 35*, Ajinkya Rahane 27*) by eight wickets.