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India’s 4 Boxing Day changes pack a punch

Team India celebrate a wicket at the MCG. Pic: Rishabh Pant/ Twitter
Team India celebrate a wicket at the MCG. Pic: Rishabh Pant/ Twitter
ANALYST
Modified 29 Dec 2020, 13:48 IST
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When India made four changes to their team for the Boxing Day Test following the Adelaide debacle, many critics hit out by observing that the visitors were in panic mode.

However, following India’s memorable eight-wicket triumph, all naysayers have been emphatically silenced. Putting behind the horror of the first Test, India made a remarkable comeback to square the series despite missing four first-team regulars and having Umesh Yadav hobble off in the second innings.

Two of India’s changes in Melbourne were forced ones. All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja came in for regular skipper Virat Kohli, who is back in India on paternity leave. Mohammed Siraj replaced the experienced Mohammed Shami, who has been ruled out of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy due to an injury.

The two other changes to the playing XI raised a few eyebrows though. Some experts felt that the axing of Wriddhiman Saha and Prithvi Shaw after just one bad game was a harsh call.

Nevertheless, regardless of what the critics have said, all four men came to the party in the Boxing Day Test and played key roles in the enthralling win.

How India's ‘four-tune’ changed in the Boxing Day Test

Here’s a detailed analysis of how the four changes made for the Boxing Day Test worked wonders for Team India.

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#1 Mohammed Siraj’s impactful debut

Mohammed Siraj
Mohammed Siraj

What a story it has been! From losing his father at the start of the tour to playing a significant hand in India’s triumph in Melbourne on his Test debut, Mohammed Siraj has experienced a wide gamut of emotions over the last few weeks.

The debutant fast bowler showed commendable composure in the Boxing Day Test considering the personal turmoil he has been through. Siraj got the big scalp of Marnus Labuschagne in the first innings when the batsman looked good for a big score. Siraj was even more impressive when Australia came out to bat a second time.

He got the ball to move and sent back Travis Head with one that slanted across the batsman. Siraj then dismissed Australia's second-innings top-scorer Cameron Green by the batsman caught at midwicket with one that got big.

With figures of 3 for 37, Siraj was India’s most successful bowler in the second innings. He couldn’t have asked for much more on his debut, that too in a Boxing Day Test!


#2 Shubman Gill ‘Shaws’ the way

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Shubman Gill rejoices after India
Shubman Gill rejoices after India's win. Pic: Shubman Gill/ Twitter

One of the key reasons why India’s batting struggled in Adelaide was because Prithvi Shaw was a 'walking' wicket at the start of the innings, which put the rest of the lineup under immense pressure. Shaw's technique against the moving ball was brutally exposed in both innings, as his lack of footwork saw him getting cleaned up cheaply.

Although it is too early to make a call on Shubman Gill, from what we saw of him in the two innings of the Boxing Day Test, he is technically sound. After India lost the struggling Mayank Agarwal early in the first innings, Gill weathered the storm in the company of Cheteshwar Pujara.

Impressively, the debutant was not afraid to take on the Australian bowlers and displayed a positive intent, balancing attack with watchful defence. Self-admittedly, Gill was disappointed with the waft outside off-stump that denied him a debut fifty.

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However, Gill proved that he is a quick learner by staying unbeaten on 35 in the second innings and aiding skipper Ajinkya Rahane to take India home in a chase of 70 after two early setbacks.


#3 Ravindra Jadeja’s all-round show powers India

Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja's presence in Melbourne boosted India immensely. Pic: Ravindra Jadeja/ Twitter

Ravindra Jadeja’s inclusion in the Boxing Day Test proved fruitful for India on multiple counts.

The visitors were pathetic on the field in the opening game in Adelaide, dropping a plethora of catches. However, on the first day of the second Test in Melbourne, Jadeja’s presence lifted India in the field.

The allrounder took a brilliant running catch to dismiss Matthew Wade despite almost colliding with Gill, who also attempted to settle under the skier.

With the bat, the left-hander then came up with a resilient half-century to help India take a significant first-innings lead. When Australia batted for a second time, Jadeja kept things extremely tight with his left-arm spin and was rewarded with the big scalps of Matthew Wade and Tim Paine.

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Over the last few seasons, Jadeja has truly come of age as a Test player. His Boxing Day exploits have only reinforced his growing stature in Indian cricket, especially in the longest format of the game.

Interestingly, even Jadeja's ardent 'critic' Sanjay Manjrekar showered praise on the quality allrounder for his MCG exploits.


#4 Not Pant-astic but good enough

Rishabh Pant. Pic: ICC/ Twitter
Rishabh Pant. Pic: ICC/ Twitter

If one throws a cursory glance at the scorecard, one might think that Rishabh Pant did not have a great Boxing Day Test. However, his first-innings cameo of 29 was a momentum-shifting one, as his counterattacking knock gave India some impetus and allowed skipper Ajinkya Rahane to settle into a rhythm.

In a Test match, often half an hour of dominance can make a significant difference. That is what Pant achieved with his belligerent batting in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test.

Behind the stumps, Pant remains a work in progress, as he missed some chances. However, his chirpy attitude might have ruffled a few Australian feathers like in the 2018-19 series.

The present Australian outfit looks susceptible to mental disintegration. In that respect, taking a punt with Pant did not turn out to be a bad move, especially in Melbourne, as the diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman caused the hosts some ‘Paine’.

Published 29 Dec 2020, 13:48 IST
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