Rahane Leads from the Front as India Stay on Top in Melbourne
India finished Day 2 with the score at 277/5 and a lead of 82 runs. On Day 1, Australia had been shot out for 195.
It was a masterclass in batting in Tests that India captain Ajinkya Rahane put on during Day 2 of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne against Australia to put his team firmly in the box seat in the contest. Along with Rahane, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja held fort as they piled on a 104-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
At Stumps on Day 2, India, with Rahane and Jadeja unbeaten, were 82 runs ahead of Australia.
Earlier in the morning, Pat Cummins and his skipper Tim Paine collaborated to pick the wickets of India’s two overnight batsmen, in the first 65 minutes of play.
Shubman Gill was the first to fall with Paine taking an easy catch. The young opener, making his Test debut, was dismissed for a strokeful 45.
India were down to 61/2 with Ajinkya Rahane joining Cheteshwar Pujara.
Pujara, who batted a total of 70 deliveries for his 17 was Cummins’ second scalp of the morning, leaving India at 64/3. The catch by Paine was a class act with the keeper needing to fully stretch on his right to land the ball in his gloves.
Hanuma Vihari and Rahane then negotiated the rest of the morning session, adding another 26 runs to take India to Lunch at 90/3.
The duo dug in and frustrated the bowlers with their gritty approach and 52 runs before Nathan Lyon picked his first wicket of the match, Vihari out on 21, caught by Steve Smith.
In walked Rishabh Pant, who is playing the match in place of Wriddhiman Saha, with the potential to really drive the innings with his aggressive approach.
Pant pulled and drove and found the fence thrice during his 40-ball-29-run cameo, which resulted in a quickfire 57-run partnership with Rahane. However, Pant could not kick on edged one to Paine off Starc as he looked to flay the pacer through the off-side. Rahane meanwhile kept chipping away and help up his end.
Jadeja and Rahane went through the second session unscathed and dug in further after the Tea break. The duo ran well and put the bad ones away when there was a chance to put on a century partnership just when India needed it the most.
Once the second new ball was taken India countered the new ball with an intent to score quickly and were helped out as Australia’s count for dropped catches moved up to 5 by the time stumps were drawn.
Rahane, who played a captain’s knock, brought up his century with a crisp cut shot through point off Pat Cummins.
A rain stoppage a little later forced stumps to be drawn early with Rahane unbeaten on 104 and Jadeja batting on 40. India finished Day 2 with the score at 277/5 and a lead of 82 runs.
Australia were rolled over for 195 in their first innings on Saturday, the second time they have been bowled out for less than 200 during this series.
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