MELBOURNE: Stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane led India to a dominant eight-wicket win over Australia in the second on Test Tuesday, levelling the series 1-1 and capping an extraordinary turnaround after their record collapse in the opening game.
Rahane, deputising during Virat Kohli’s paternity leave, hit an unbeaten 27 in Melbourne — after a century in the first innings — as India reached the meagre target of 70 for the loss of two wickets.
It capped a remarkable comeback for an Indian side desperate to make amends after losing in Adelaide by eight wickets, when they posted their lowest ever score of 36 and were widely criticised at home.
And they bounced back without superstar and batting maintstay Kohli, who has returned home for the birth of his first child.
“Really proud of all the players,” said Rahane.
“I want to give credit to the debutants (Mohammed) Siraj and (Shubman) Gill, the character they showed after the Adelaide loss was great to see. Character was important for us.”
Kohli, watching at home in India, tweeted his congratulations.
“What a win this is, absolutely amazing effort by the whole team,” he said. “Couldn’t be happier for the boys and specially Jinks (Rahane) who led the team to victory amazingly.”
Under the mild-mannered Rahane, India battled hard to dismiss Australia for 195 in the first innings and then posted 326 in reply.
Australia resumed their second innings on day four on 133 for six with a two-run lead, and their hopes resting on 21-year-old rookie all-rounder Cameron Green.
He made 45 as they battled to 200 before tail-ender Josh Hazlewood was the last man to fall before lunch.
Siraj took 3-37 with Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin grabbing two each.
Rahane and Gill (35) then saw India home, but not before some nervous moments.
Mitchell Starc got a nick from the out-of-form Mayank Agarwal (5), which Tim Paine caught, then Pat Cummins snared Cheteshwar Pujara for three, edged to Green at gully.
It left India on 19 for two before they regained their composure to seal the win.
“Very disappointed, played poor cricket, sloppy cricket,” said Australia captain Paine.
“Let’s not take anything away from India, they forced us to make mistakes. They bowled beautifully, we haven’t adapted as well as we would’ve liked.
“Disappointed as a batting group, but two Tests to go.”
To make matters worse for Australia, they were fined 40 percent of their match fee and docked four World Test Championship points for a slow over-rate.
Australia had collapsed to 99 for six in the run chase on Monday before Green and Cummins knuckled down to weather 18 overs and steer them to stumps.
Australia won toss
Australia 1st Innings 195 all out (M. Labuschagne 48; J. Bumrah 4-56)
India 1st Innings 326 all out (A. Rahane 112; N. Lyon 3-72)
Australia 2nd Innings (overnight 133 for six)
J. Burns c Pant b Yadav 4
M. Wade b Jadeja 40
M. Labuschagne c Rahane b Ashwin 28
S. Smith b Bumrah 8
T. Head c Agarwal b Siraj 17
C. Green c Jadeja b Siraj 45
*T. Paine c Pant b Jadeja 1
P. Cummins c Agarwal b Bumrah 22
M. Starc not out 14
N. Lyon c Pant b Siraj 3
J. Hazlewood b Ashwin 10
Extras (lb5, nb3) 8
Total (all out, 103.1 overs) 200
Fall: 1-4 (Burns), 2-42 (Labuschagne), 3-71 (Smith), 4-98 (Wade), 5-98 (Head), 6-99 (Paine), 7-156 (Cummins), 8-177 (Green), 9-185 (Lyon), 10-200 (Hazlewood)
Bowling: Bumrah 27-6-54-2, Yadav 3.3-0-5-1, Siraj 21.3-4-37-3, Ashwin 37.1-6-71-2, Jadeja 14-5-28-2
India 2nd Innings
M. Agarwal c Paine b Starc 5
S. Gill not out 35
C. Pujara c Green b Cummins 3
*A. Rahane not out 27
Total (2 wickets, 15.5 overs) 70
Fall: 1-16 (Agarwal) 2-19 (Pujara)
Bowling: Starc 4-0-20-1, Cummins 5-0-22-1, Hazlewood 3-1-14-0, Lyon 2.5-0-5-0, Labuschagne 1-0-9-0
Did not bat: Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravi Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah
Result: India won by 8 wickets
Man of the Match: A Rahane (India)
Umpires: Paul Reiffel (AUS), Bruce Oxenford (AUS). TV umpire: Paul Wilson (AUS)
Source: The News