Analysis | One of India's finest Test wins

Stellar show
Indian players celebrate the fall of an Australian wicket. Photo: AFP

Team India displayed steely resolve to bounce back after the horror show in Adelaide to turn the tables on Australia in the Boxing Day Test. The visitors, who were bundled out for their lowest ever Test total of 36 and thrashed inside three days in the day-night series opener, proved their mettle by overpowering the Aussies on the fourth day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

This has to be one of India's finest wins not only for the circumstances heading into the game but also considering the fact that regular captain Virat Kohli and injured senior pacer Mohammed Shami were missing from the eleven which took the field in Adelaide.

Stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane led from the front and rallied his troops well. Just as in the 2017 Dharamshala Test against the same opposition on his captaincy debut, Rahane got his tactics spot on after Australia elected to bat. He was innovative with the field placings and was invariably on the lookout for wickets.

India went into the match with five bowlers and were successful in dismissing the hosts for 195 on the opening day. Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, experienced off-spinner R Ashwin and debutant seamer Mohammed Siraj did a commendable job and were well backed up by the Indian fielders. The Indian catching was really good as opposed to the shoddy display in Adelaide.

Rahane (112) scored a fighting hundred and his 121-run stand with Jadeja (57) for the sixth wicket was instrumental in India gaining a crucial lead of 131 in the first innings. Debutant opener Shubman Gill (45) and wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant (29) too made vital contributions in India going past the 300-run mark.

Captain's knock
Ajinkya Rahane scored a priceless hundred. Photo: AFP

The Indian bowlers continued the good show in the second innings despite losing pacer Umesh Yadav to an injury early on. In hindsight the five-bowler theory proved a blessing for the Indians.

They did well to rock the Australian top-order on the third day and despite the best efforts of rookie Cameron Green (45) and the lower order, India succeeded in bowling out the home side for 200 on the fourth morning.

The target of 70 on a track, which had eased out considerably, was not really going to trouble the Indians. Despite losing a couple of early wickets, Rahane and Gill took them home without further damage.

The challenge now for India is to keep fighting in the remaining two Tests. Yadav is doubtful for the third Test which begins in Sydney on January 7. In case Yadav is ruled out, Navdeep Saini is the most likely replacement while a fit-again Rohit Sharma should replace an out-of-form Mayank Agarwal at the top of the order.

Many experts were quick to write India's epitaph after the debacle in Adelaide and expected Australia to complete a series sweep. The Indian team and Rahane in particular deserve credit for the stunning turnaround.

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