Ajinkya Rahane-inspired India beat 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 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 want to give credit to the debutants Siraj and Gill, the character they showed after the Adelaide loss was great to see,” Rahane said after the game.
India went into this Test with five specialist bowlers and the plan worked well for the visitors, especially after they lost Umesh Yadav in the second innings to a calf injury.
“Character was important for us, especially after losing Umesh in the second innings. That (five-bowler plan) worked well for us nicely. We were thinking of having an all-rounder and (Ravindra) Jadeja has been brilliant for us,” Rahane said.
Jadeja scored a crucial 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 well.
Among the debutants, Gill, who averages nearly 70 in the first-class cricket, came in for Prithvi Shaw and showed glimpses of why he is rated so highly in Indian cricket circles.
“Shubman, we all know his (record in) first-class career, and in this game, he has shown the intent to play shots at this level. He has shown composure,” Rahane said.
And Siraj, who lost his father only last month, waited patiently for his opportunity on the tour and made the most of it when it came.
“Siraj has shown that he can bowl with discipline. It’s really difficult for debutants to bowl with discipline but that’s where I think the first-class experience comes in handy,” 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 was all about showing the attitude and intent on the field,” Rahane said, adding, “As I said, (showing) character (was important). Adelaide was about one hour that took the game away from us. Lots to learn from even now.”
Rahane confirmed that Umesh is “recovering well” from the injury he sustained yesterday and “management and medical staff will take the call” on the pacer’s participation in the series.
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