An intent-full, all-round effort has helped India secure a thumping eight-wicket victory against the Aussies to level the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 1-1 in Melbourne. It was Jasprit Bumrah who gave India the first breakthrough of the morning before Australia were folded for 200 in the second dig.
Shubman Gill showed the intent that the team management kept on asking from their batsman and also gave a dazzling reminder of his irresistible talent by hitting a couple of boundaries against Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins up front. The pace bowlers, who bowled on the line for the major part of the first innings, failed to ask tough questions initially by landing most deliveries either on the leg or on the fifth stump line. The Indian opening duo were happy to negotiate the width on offer for a confident start.
But then the disaster struck. Mitchell Starc, who’s had a terrific start to the Test series, made an under confident Mayank Agarwal play to the wrong line against an away swinger which could have been left alone. The normally calm Pujara got off to an uncharacteristic start with a glance towards mid-wicket to get going but could last three more deliveries before Cummins extracted an edge to reduce India to 19/2.
Earlier in the day, as the ball stopped to bite on a flatter wicket, the Indian bowlers had a familiar problem in front of them - wrapping the tail. And like it has been the story for years, the tail wagged to give India jitters. First it was Pat Cummins, who combined with rookie Cameron Green for a stoic 57-run partnership before Mitchell Starc batted like a man possessed during his solid 56-ball stay that yielded 14 runs.
India really needed a breakthrough and it was Jasprit Bumrah who bowled a short ball to Pat Cummins whose unchecked pull fell safely in Mayank Agarwal’s hands, opening up a chance for India to wrap the Aussie innings soon enough with the new ball. Debutant Mohammed Siraj then made Green play to a short ball before Ravindra Jadeja completed the catching formalities to down the Aussies to 177/8.
The wicket was flatter and the new ball was not doing anything but India never lacked the intent. They kept a 6-3 attacking field all throughout, cramping the runs through cover and point, making the left-handed duo of Starc and Lyon to take risks on the leg-side. There was a catching mid-wicket in place and it spelled the death knell, with the hosts folding up for 200.
The 70-run target was not big enough but India losing two batters so early in the innings was not an ideal scenario. But Ajinkya Rahane, checking a pull and scoring a boundary on the second delivery he faced was an ideal reply from India’s part. Gill, meanwhile, continued playing his attacking game scoring feverishly.
So fluent was he in his stroke-making that every shot was met with some raucous cheer from the crowd. Rahane further matched him for shot to shot for an attacking 27 runs as India wrapped up an eight-wicket victory against the Aussies.
This is India’s second consecutive victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, after the visitors beat the hosts last time to take up the Boxing Day honours as well as an unassailable lead in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
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 (Shubman Gill 45, Ajinkya Rahane 112, Ravindra Jadeja 57; Pat Cummins 2-80, Mitchell Starc 3-78) and 70/2 (Shubman Gill 35*, Mitchell Starc 1/20) by eight wickets