Australia vs India 2018/19: One of a kind test series down under!
First Test, Adelaide
On the eve of the first Test, the biggest question that plagued the cricketing fraternity was, "What will be the playing eleven for India?" In the recent tours, the captain and the management have been criticized for selecting an objectionable team for a Test match. But this time, Kohli seemed to get it right not only with the team but also at the toss.
Electing to bat first, everyone was excited about Virat Kohli, who was playing his third Test at this venue. Undoubtedly, the Aussies dreaded him the most as the Indian skipper had scored three centuries from two Tests at this venue. However, it was Cheteshwar Pujara who stole the show in the first Test with his match-winning performance in both the innings.
His 16th Test hundred ensured India reached a competitive total in the first innings. Indian bowlers never allowed Australian batsmen to get away and kept the match in balance in the second innings. With few small contributions and fifties from Rahane and Pujara, India set a target of 322 for the home team. Despite some lower-order resistance from Australia, India hung in till the end and won the first Test by 31 runs. The Indian bowlers bowled as a perfect bowling unit throughout the match on a pitch which had something for both the batters and bowlers.
This victory was a perfect example of the entire team contributing around one solid stand out performance.
Second Test, Perth
Wounded and hurt, Australia won a crucial toss on a green pitch at the new venue in Perth. Keeping faith in their team they went in with an unchanged eleven and elected to bat. India, on the other hand, were struggling for balance as few players were battling with injuries. This saw some forced changes in the Indian camp.
The misleading green pitch gave the Indian team management a reason to play four pacers and no spinner. This turned out to be disastrous for the visitors. As Umesh Yadav, who was picked as the fourth pacer leaked some runs on a pitch which was tough to bat on.
On the back of a solid opening stand, Australia put up 326 in the first innings. It was Virat Kohli this time who stood tall and took his team close to the Aussie total with a fighting hundred. But, it was time for Nathan Lyon to show his class as he claimed a 5-wicket haul in the first innings. He was the difference between the two sides. India missed Ashwin terribly on bouncing and turning pitch and bowled without any luck.
As a result, the team ended playing catch up in the second innings and failed to chase a target of 287 on a spicy Perth pitch in the forth innings. The Aussie bowlers were at their deadly best in the second innings and wrapped up the Indian team in 56 overs with only 140 runs on the board. Australia won the match by 146 runs and levelled the series with a great comeback. Nathan Lyon was the man of the match for his match-winning effort with match figures of 106-8.
Things were pretty heated after this test as Virat Kohli and Tim Paine had few exchanges on the pitch.
Third Test, Melbourne
With the series levelled and momentum with the home team, both teams headed to the much anticipated boxing day Test. It was high time, the Indian team management took some tough calls. Kohli won the toss and elected to bat first in your crucial third test. The changes made were spot on as the two new openers in Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari gave a solid start. But once again, it was the man following the footsteps of the wall, who showed his class on a tricky MCG pitch with a gritty hundred. The Aussie bowlers were made to toil hard to the point that they had to take the third new ball. Batting for almost two days on this pitch, India made sure they were in a commanding position in this fixture by declaring at 443/7.
In response, Australia was blown away by Bumrah who picked 6 wickets. They could manage a meager 151. Despite Pat Cummins's fighting performance with both bat and ball, Australia were never in this game in the second innings. Against a relentless Indian bowling attack, chasing 399 was an uphill task. The visitors made a comeback with a thumping win by a margin of 137 runs and took a lead of 2-1 in the Border-Gavaskar trophy. Jasprit Bumrah was the man of the match for his outstanding bowling effort of 86/9 in the match.
Forth Test, Sydney
A comeback for Australia was always going to be tough in the last Test of the series as India dominated and outplayed Australia in every department in the third Test. India winning the toss and electing to bat first didn't help their cause to draw the series. India gambled with a 2 pacer, 2 spinner attack on a spin-friendly pitch. If the first innings total at MCG was huge, India simply added to the agony of the home team, as they posted a mammoth 622/7 on a typical flat pitch at the SCG. The Aussie bowlers looked completely drained on the second day and as a result the Indian team upped the ante by piling on runs at a higher scoring rate. Pujara continued his dream run in the series and missed a double hundred by just 7 runs as he was caught and bowled by Nathan Lyon on 193. Rishabh Pant on the other hand, scored an explosive hundred, his second in test cricket while making a partnership of 202 with Jadeja.
At this stage, the match was completely Australia's to lose. A draw seemed to be the most likely result as the pitch didn't have any demons and was as good as the first day for batting. But as always, something else was in store for the once mighty Australians. They didn't look confident with the bat and as Kohli unleashed the young prodigy of the Indian limited overs side, Kuldeep Yadav, Australia folded with only 300 in their first innings. Kuldeep picked a 5-wicket haul on a flat SCG pitch with his guile and flight. With bad light and rain playing spoilsport on day 4, Kohli decided to enforce follow-on as India was running out of time to make it 3-1. Day 5 was a complete washout and both the teams settled for a draw with Australia the happier side. Once again it was Pujara's well crafted innings which was the foundation of the Indian batting.