Team India made a comeback for ages in the Boxing Day Test against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground as they dominated the hosts by 8 wickets to level the 4-match series by 1-1.
For the team to register a historic win after being 1-0 down in the series, plus the absence of their key batter Virat Kohli who is on paternity leave and bowling spearhead Mohammed Shami who suffered a fracture on his right forearm during the first Test, the victory would have been a confidence booster to the entire unit.
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Especially Ajinkya Rahane, who was under heavy scrutiny since the run-out of Virat Kohli who was batting comfortably on 74 in the first innings of the opening Test, and for the 32-year-old Mumbaikar to stamp an authority with both bat and ball, and being awarded as the ‘Player of the Match’ in the immediate Test that followed, showed exceptional courage and character.
Speaking on the same and adding more to Rahane’s glory as a captain, former Pakistani cricketer Shoiab Akhtar heaped praise on the latter’s remarkable leadership abilities that paved way for an Indian conquest, thereby silencing the critics who had raised brows on Rahane’s prowess post the day-night Adelaide Test.
Akhtar, who represented Pakistan in 46 Tests and picked 178 wickets, said that he predicted an Indian victory provided their middle-order batsmen dominate the Aussie bowlers.
“I was telling a few friends in Delhi that India are going to beat the hell out of Australia. I told them that if the batting performs, if the middle-order performs, then India have a fair amount of chance to win the series. They said I was hyping up a bit too much,” Akhtar spoke in interaction with Sports Journalist Boria Majumdar on the YouTube channel – Sports Today.
“I watched the game, one fine morning, I woke up and I saw India were getting hammered by Australia. I thought it was 369 and not 36 for 9. But it was 36 for 9. But you know, characters are exhibited in crisis.
The exhibition of character from the Indian team is tremendous. I think this guy is quiet and calm. Ajinkya Rahane does not shout or do nasty things on the field, he just stays quiet and does his thing which is cool captaincy. Under his leadership, the guys suddenly performed,” said Akhtar.
I want to see this series full of clashes: Shoaib Akhtar
Known among the fans as ‘Rawalpindi Express’, Akhtar further stated that he wants the Rahane-led side to win the ongoing Test series, as they showed great courage in the historic comeback at MCG. He pointed out that the skipper’s hundred was a turning point in the nerve-wracking contest.
“Who would have thought 10-15 years ago that Australia would get hammered by India or Pakistan or some other subcontinent team? Now it is happening. Now, I want to see this series full of clashes. I want India to win the series because they have made a great comeback. And they have shown a lot of character and great courage. Ajinkya Rahane’s hundred is just the turnaround,” the former speedster added.
With the newly found winning momentum, the tourists will head to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) to gain an upper hand over the hosts and take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Australia would be rejuvenated with the inclusion of David Warner and Will Puvoski in the squads for the last two Tests.
The lack of runs from their key batter Steve Smith has been a concern for Tim Paine & Co. The fact that the Sydney-born cricketer has a stupendous record at his home venue, averages 67.89, and has scored 611 runs with 2 hundreds and 5 fifties, one can expect him to bounce back in the much-coveted Test that will commence on January 7.