Rahane, Gill Apply the Finishing Touches to Resounding Win at MCG
Rahane and Gill remained unbeaten as India stormed over the line for an 8-wicket win to level the series at 1-1.
All eyes were on Ajinkya Rahane and how he would lead the Indian team out of one of their darkest moments in Test history, and the stand-in captain was on hand to take his side to a resounding 8-wicket win on Day 4 at the Boxing Day Test against Australia to level the four-match series at 1-1. Rahane has also become the second Indian captain to win each of his first three Tests as captain after MS Dhoni.
Rahane, who played a captain’s knock to put India in the box seat after the first innings, was the calming influence and along with Shubman Gill took India home safely after Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins dismissed Mayank Agarwal (5) and Cheteshwar Pujara (3) cheaply.
Needing 70 to win at Melbourne for a second successive time, India started off with a few heart-in mouth moments as Australia’s bowlers, well warmed up after batting the morning session, bowled a hostile spell to start off with.
But be that as it may, debutant Gill looked assured as ever and with his captain in tow put their best foot forward, unlike some other Indian batsmen, and polished off the rest of the target without any hiccups.
Gill, who scored 45 in the first innings, drove and pulled elegantly and remained unbeaten on 35 while Rahane (27*), a black belt holder in karate, continued to bat in his composed way manner and hit the winning runs off Nathan Lyon in 16th over.
This is the first time an Indian captain’s century on Australian soil has resulted in a Test win and deservingly he was awarded the Johnny Mullagh Medal for being the Player of the Match, as a tribute to honour the captain of Australia’s first sporting team to tour internationally. Mullagh was the leader of the 1868 Aborginal tour to the United Kingdom.
Australia, who have been down and out for almost all off the contest, started Day 4 two runs ahead of India and added another 68 as the tail wagged with Cameron Green too playing a solid hand, scoring 45 off 146 deliveries.
India had the hosts reeling at 99/6 before the lower order resistance began on the evening of Day 3, with the final four digging in deep and adding 101 runs to take Australia to a total of 200, giving their bowlers something to work with in the fourth innings.
Green and Cummins batted through the first hour of play, adding a total of 57 runs before Jasprit Bumrah picked the first wicket of the day - Cummins caught at second slip by Mayank Agarwal on 22. Australia were 156/7.
Starc then joined Green and the two added a quick-fire 21 runs off 49 balls before Green was caught by Jadeja and Australia lost their eighth wicket. Siraj then struck once again, picking the wicket of Nathan Lyon for a 15-ball-3.
Josh Hazlewood was the last of the Aussie cricketers to walk into bat as he joined Starc and they batted for 7 overs before Ashwin picked the last of the wickets before the Lunch break.
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)
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