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Australia vs India: Character was important for us, says Ajinkya Rahane post MCG Test win

Team India clinched a historic 8-wicket win against Australia in the second match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to level the 4-match series by 1-1. India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane, who registered his third straight win as a captain in the longest format, steered the tourists to their fourth Test win at MCG which is India’s most wins at a venue in the Australian continent.

It was one of the most dominating display of cricket by the Men in Blue in overseas conditions, especially after suffering a majestic loss in the first Test at Adelaide wherein they were bundled out for 36 in the second innings, their lowest Test score ever, and suffered an 8-wicket defeat.

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One of the biggest contributing factors to the Indian triumph was Ajinkya Rahane, who was rightly adjudged as the ‘Player of the Match’ for his scintillating knock of 112 in the first innings and the winning runs in the second innings. Not to forget his tactical decisions as a captain which made the Aussies vulnerable to the Indian bowlers.

Speaking on the historic comeback and a victory to remember on Day 4 of the second Test at MCG, Rahane, lauded the team’s effort and the debutants – Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill – for showing the character in such a high-pressure game at MCG post team India’s loss at Adelaide Oval.

“Really proud of all the players. Played really well. Want to give credit to the debutants Siraj and Gill, the character they showed after the Adelaide loss was great to see. Character was important for us, especially after losing Umesh in the second innings,” said Rahane.

Team India opted for a five-bowler plan comprising 3 pacers and 2 spinners for the MCG Test, a decision that proved beneficial for the tourists. Jadeja’s inclusion into the squad as an all-rounder proved to be crucial, considering he scored a gritty 57 in the first innings alongside Rahane, adding 121 runs for the sixth-wicket, and scalped three wickets in total.

“That worked well for us nicely. We were thinking of having an all-rounder and Jadeja has been brilliant for us,” said the Mumbaikar.

First-Class experience comes in handy: Ajinkya Rahane

A big boost for the tourists in the second Test was the performance essayed by debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Sira in the batting and bowling department respectively.

Gill, who averages close to 70 in the First-Class cricket and strikes at a rate of over 75, had a positive outing in the practice Test match prior to the Test series. In his debut Test, the 21-year-old played some of the finest cricketing shots and recorded scores of 45 (65) and 35*(36) in the second Test to give India their fourth Test win against Aussies at MCG.

Siraj, who was itching to bowl in the second Test, has an impressional record in the Indian domestic circuit. So far, the 26-year-old right-arm pacer picked 157 wickets in 39 First-Class matches and was successful in making the transition to the highest form of cricket. He was roped to fill in Mohammed Shami’s void, generated swing both ways, and tore through the Australian batting order in the concluded Test, grabbing 2/40 and 3/37 in the first and second innings respectively.

“Shubman, we all know his First-Class career and in this game, he has shown the intent to play shots at this level. Has shown composure. Siraj has shown that he can bowl with discipline. It is really difficult for debutants to bowl with discipline but that is where I think the First-Class experience comes in handy,” said Rahane while highlighting the importance of the First-Class matches.

The opening Day-Night Test in Adelaide was certainly one of the historic losses for team India, but they managed to bounce back strongly in the immediate Test that followed in Melbourne.

“The talk was all about showing the attitude and intent on the field. As I said, character. Adelaide was about one hour that took the game away from us. Lots to learn for even now. Australia applied themselves with their last five wickets,” said the 32-year-old.

In the end, Rahane talked hinted about Umesh Yadav’s injury, as the pacer suffered a calf niggle while bowling in the second innings and was ruled out of the match immediately. Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma would be joining the visitors for the third and fourth Tests, adding to their batting strength.

“Umesh is recovering well, management and medical staff will take the call. We are excited about Rohit coming back. Spoke to him yesterday, he is waiting to join the team,” Rahane concluded.

India will aim to take a lead in the third Test which will commence from January 7 which is all set to take place at the Sydney Cricket Ground, in Sydney.

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V Shashank
A cricket aficionado who has been following the game since the historic Ashes 2013-14. "People throw stones at you, you turn them into milestones." - Sachin Tendulkar


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