Ajinkya Rahane-inspired India whip Australia by eight wickets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Tuesday to level the Border-Gavaskar series at 1-1. Captain Rahane scored a magnificent 112 in the first innings followed by an unbeaten 27 in the second one but drew attention to the two debutants in the Test — Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj — who played key roles in India’s victory after the humiliating loss in Adelaide. While Gill scored 45 and 35 not out against the new ball, Siraj picked up five wickets in the match. “I need to give credit to the debutants Siraj and Gill – the character they showed after the Adelaide loss used to be great to see,” Rahane said after the game.
India went into this Test with five specialist bowlers and the plan worked polite for the visitors, particularly after they missing Umesh Yadav in the second one innings to a calf injury.
“Character used to be important for us, particularly after losing Umesh in the second one innings. That (five-bowler plan) worked polite for us nicely. We were thinking of having an all-rounder and (Ravindra) Jadeja has been brilliant for us,” Rahane said.
Jadeja scored a an important 57 in a 121-run sixth-wicket stand with Rahane in the first innings to take India to 326, thereby getting a 131-run lead in the first innings. He picked up three wickets as polite.
Some of the debutants, Gill, who averages almost 70 in the first-class cricket, came in for Prithvi Shaw and showed glimpses of why he’s rated so highly in Indian cricket circles.
“Shubman, everyone knows his (record in) first-class career, and in this game, he has shown the mean to play shots at this level. He has shown composure,” Rahane said.
And Siraj, who missing his father only final month, waited patiently for his possibility on the tour and made the most of it when it came.
“Siraj has shown that he can bowl with discipline. It’s in reality difficult for debutants to bowl with discipline but that’s where I think the first-class experience turns out to be useful,” Rahane said.
Rahane lauded the team for making a resilient comeback after the ignominy of 36/9 in Adelaide – their lowest-ever Test score.
“The talk used to be all approximately showing the attitude and mean on the field,” Rahane said, adding, “As I said, (showing) character (used to be important). Adelaide used to be approximately one hour that took the game absent from us. Lots to be told from even now.”
Rahane confirmed that Umesh is “recovering polite” from the injury he sustained the day prior to this and “management and medical staff will take the call” on the pacer’s participation in the series.
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