Though Ajinkya Rahane won the Man of the Match for his gritty 112 off 223 balls in the first innings, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar attributed the series-levelling win in Melbourne to the visitors’ new ball bowlers. India handed Australia an 8-wicket defeat in the second Test to draw level the four-match series 1-1.
Despite losing the toss, India had their foot on the Aussie throats from the word go and overcame the biggest hurdle of skittling out the hosts. Gavaskar shed light on that very point, saying wickets early on helped the mood remain upbeat in the Indian camp throughout the match, especially after the visitors were bowled out for in the second innings in Adelaide.
“The new ball bowlers made sure that Australia didn’t get off to a 70 or 100 for no loss on Day 1. This is the main reason why this comeback was possible.
“If Australia would have got off to a start, the [Indian] team would have started thinking, ‘Look that this is not our tour because when we played in Adelaide, everything we played was edged but these Australians were playing and missing, getting hit on the pads but still survived and got to 80-90 for no loss’. So that sort of negative mindset can creep in.
“But because those early wickets were taken, that’s the reason the Indian team could think that, ‘No we are still in the game, we did well for two days in Adelaide, we had a horrific one hour but we can still do it’ and they have shown us how to do it,” Gavaskar told India Today.
Led by Ajinkya Rahane’s 12th Test ton, India amassed 326 runs in their first innings, managing a healthy lead of 131 runs. And the Indian bowlers, coupled with top field placements, came to the fore as Australia were bundled out for 200 in their second innings. The visitors then comfortably chased down the 70-run target inside 16 overs.
‘Shubman Gill is a long-term prospect for India,’ says Sunil Gavaskar
India made two bold calls after the Adelaide defeat, as they handed Test debuts to opener Shubman Gill and fast bowler Mohammad Siraj in the Boxing Day encounter. While Siraj picked 5 wickets across two innings, Gill aggregated 80 runs and remained at the other end when Rahane hit the winning runs on Day 4.
Sunil Gavaskar lavished praise on Shubman Gill, saying the 21-year-old could be a “long term prospect for India”. He, however, didn’t sound too confident about Gill’s batting position, especially with regular opener Rohit Sharma primed to return to the XI for the third Test.
“Certainly [belongs to the big stage] for the shots that he has played, from his defence and temperament, it appears that this is a long-term prospect for India. I am not 100 percent sure if he should be batting at the top of the order or at No. 5.
“Because at the top of the order, he takes a few chances and at the U-19 level he was not opening the batting, he was batting at 3 or 4, so maybe that is his real position. But no questions, if he keeps improving, India has a long-term prospect in their hands,” the legendary opener, who scored 10,122 runs in 125 Tests, reasoned.
Everyone expected Virat Kohli’s absence to leave a gaping hole both in India’s line-up and performance. But all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who missed the first Test due to concussion and hamstring injury, made significant contributions by scoring 57 in the first innings and scalping three wickets across two essays. Sunil Gavaskar termed his inclusion “bold”, adding Jadeja bolstered India’s all three departments.
“That is one of the bold decisions that this captain or the team management took because to go with Jadeja as an all-rounder meant that India had the perfect balance. In batting, it got little bit of depth and in bowling, they had an extra option which meant Bumrah, Umesh could take a bit of breather and also he is a fabulous fielder,” Gavaskar explained.
India’s love affair with the Melbourne Cricket Ground continued where they have now won four Tests, their most at a single away venue. The Ajinkya Rahane-led side would now want to carry on the good form and momentum into the remaining two Tests, and create an almost insurmountable feat of winning two consecutive series Down Under.
Published 30 Dec 2020, 12:54 IST