CHENNAI: Nine days after suffering one of their worst defeats ever in Adelaide — scars of which will remain forever — India applied balm over it in Melbourne with an eight-wicket win over Australia on Tuesday. For a team that has scripted many comebacks in the recent times away from home, this win will top the list as it has come with India missing their best batsman and three of their first-choice pacers. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy is now level 1-1 going into the third Test which will either be played at Sydney or in Melbourne.
Unlike what happened nine days ago, there wasn’t any cruel twist in the script as far as India was concerned. Unlike then India just didn’t have hope, they had victory in sight this time. Perhaps such was the gravity of the defeat in Adelaide that when Australia added 68 runs in the extended morning session on Day 4, it gave space to some nervy moments. But they were just false alarms.
On a pitch that has only got slower as the Test progressed with no signs of deteriorating, India would have even backed themselves to chase anything around 150. However, the bowlers ensured India had only 70 to chase to script one of the most stunning turnarounds.
Like what transpired before on the tour, India were written-off as they landed in Melbourne. They had already showed in limited-overs leg that they can overcome early setbacks, winning the T20 series without their regular pacers. But Adelaide again gave space to talks of whitewash, which this team has silenced in a manner that is becoming a characteristic of theirs. India believed Adelaide didn’t make them a bad team overnight and they have shown in Melbourne that they are not.
Under Kohli, India have a history of putting back defeats in the bin in stunning fashion. For every setback they suffered in Galle, Pune, Centurion and London they have Colombo, Bengaluru, Johannesburg and Nottingham to show their ability to regroup immediately and hit back. But Melbourne will eclipse all of that.
In a match where scoring runs have been difficult thanks to the quality of bowlers on either side, Indian batsmen have shown their mettle, handing Australians a lesson or two. Over the last four days India’s attack has outperformed the Australians in spite of missing three of their regular pacers and losing another in the middle of the Test. Right through the second Test, instead of looking for excuses, they put their best foot forward, believing in their preparation and skillset. And it has culminated in them winning back-to-back Boxing Day series on Australian soil, and their fourth Test victory at the venue makes Melbourne their favourite hunting ground Down Under.
Wins like this give teams takeaways. And here, in debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj, India have found two talents they can serve in the long-run. Thanks to a good domestic circuit and exposure trips with A team, they didn’t look out of depth. If Gill was confident personified, Siraj has put behind a personal tragedy – lost his father and chose to stay back in Sydney instead of attending last rites – to join a pool of a pace battery.
Brief scores: Australia 195 and 200 (C Green 45, M Wade 40, M Labuschagne 28, M Siraj 3/37, J Bumrah 2/54, R Jadeja 2/28, R Ashwin 2/71, U Yadav 1/5) vs India 326 and 70/2 (S Gill 35 not out, A Rahane 27 not out)