A magnificent century by skipper Ajinkya Rahane put India in control of the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Along with Ravindra Jadeja, Rahane built a lead of 82 runs for India.
Australia started the day well. Pat Cummins sent back both Shubman Gill and Cheteshwar Pujara in his eight-over spell. However, India’s middle-order fought back before rain forced an early finish to the day. After 64 for 3 when Cheteshwar Pujara departed, Rahane and Hanuma Vihari stitched together 52 runs. This was followed by Rahane and Pant's 57-run stand, and Rahane and Jadeja with unbeaten 104 runs. Here are three positives for India from Day 2 of the second Test against Australia.
1. Rishabh Pant’s approach
Rishabh Pant made most of his inclusion in the playing XI with a 40-ball 29. He took Mitchell Starc for 20 runs in two overs after the fast bowler had given away just 12 runs in his eight overs earlier.
With Vihari back in the dugout and Rahane playing cautiously, India needed Pant to step up with his aggressive approach. And he did. But it was Starc who had the last laugh as he dismissed the Indian wicketkeeper batsman, thereby claiming his 250th Test wicket and giving Tim Paine his 150th dismissal.
Earlier, Pant made news as the keeper too when his inputs helped Ravichandran Ashwin get Matthew Wade’s wicket. And with that, fans and analysts are certain that time is up for Wriddhiman Saha in the team.
2. Ajinkya Rahane’s brilliance
Rahane, India's stand-in skipper, scored his 12th hundred on Day Two. He walked in to bat in the 22nd over when Cummins was causing carnage in the nine overs he bowled. However, Rahane showed grit to take India past Australia's first innings score of 195. The batsman hit 11 boundaries during his 195-ball century.
Rahane added 52 runs with Hanuma Vihari for the fourth wicket before Pant fired with some quick runs. Then walked in Jadeja, with whom Rahane has an unbeaten 104 run partnership.
This was Rahane’s eighth Test century away from home and his first as skipper. It can be noted that the centurion was given an extra life by Steve Smith, who dropped Rahane’s catch in the first over after the second new ball was taken.
3. India’s incredible comeback
The Virat Kohli-led side registered their lowest-ever total in the Test cricket when they were bundled out for 36 runs at Adelaide. Even after taking a lead in the first innings, the visitors lost the Test by eight wickets after setting the hosts a target of only 90 runs to win.
Considering the team’s morale low after this defeat, their strong comeback in the second Test has been incredible so far. Young Shubman Gill’s knock of 45 runs was a delight to watch, as were the significant contributions by the middle order. With the lead nearing the hundred-run mark, India will be high on confidence when play resumes on Day 3.Published 27 Dec 2020, 17:14 IST