India stage a stunning comeback; beat Australia to level series
Indian team celebrating Starc's wicket. (Image: BCCI)
The beauty of test cricket was at its brightest display today as India came from behind to stun the Aussies and level the 4 match series 1-1. Team India was dismantled completely in the first innings and even conceded a huge 87 run lead on a minefield of a pitch but the way they turned the tables with their guts, grit and will was not just miraculous but also demoralizing for the opposition. India set a target of 188 runs for the Australians to chase on the 4th day of the match which looked challenging at the start but proved too hot to handle in the end as the Australian batsmen folded for a meagre 112 runs to give India a morale boosting 75 run win. Ashwin was the destructor in chief with 6 wickets while Yadav contributed with 2 vital wickets.
India batted first after winning the toss but no batsmen apart from KL Rahul applied themselves on a wicket that offered vicious turn and bounce on the first day of the match. Rahul scored a brilliant 90 but the team collapsed yet again for the third time in a row to be bowled out for less than 200 runs. Team India scored 189 with Aussie off-spinner Nathan Lyon running through the Indian lineup with a career best 8-wicket haul. Australia started strongly but little did they realize that the Indian bowlers were pulling their team back into the game steadily despite conceding the lead.
The second day of the test was an ultimate display of the challenge that the test cricket is. Australia started the day at 40/0 and ended it on 237/6. Just 197 runs were scored in the day as Indian bowlers strangled the Australian batsmen completely with a mighty hearted effort especially from the fast bowlers. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav bowled their hearts out on variable track to keep the Aussies in check. The slow run rate meant the Australians could not run away with the game. Australia finally folded for 276 runs earning a 87 run lead, which was massive with respect to the pitch.
India needed a strong performance and KL Rahul put his hand up again with another half century but just as India started to look in control, they were jolted back with a flurry of wickets. At one stage, India were 84 for 1 but soon it became 120 for 4 with Mukund, Rahul, Kohli and Jadeja back in the hut. India was effectively 33 for 4 and in deep trouble when Ajinkya Rahane joined Cheteshwar Pujara in the middle. Both batsmen showed great character and application as they fought out the dangerous Australian bowlers to keep them at bay for the rest of the day. India finished day 3 at 213 for 4, which meant they were ahead by 126 runs with 6 wickets in hand.
A lead of over 200 runs would have been an ideal benchmark and a fighting total for India and given the position they were in, it looked very doable too. Pujara and Rahane could not continue for too long on the 4th morning of the match as Australia immediately opted for the new ball when it got available and reaped immediate rewards with 4 wickets in 2 overs. First Starc got Rahane and Karun Nair off consecutive deliveries and the Josh Hazlewood picked up Pujara and Ashwin in the next over to push India back to a disastrous 246 for 8. A cameo of 20 runs from Wriddhiman Saha pushed the Indian lead to 187 before the final wicket fell. Pujara scored a magnificient 92 to be dismissed in the nineties for the first time in his career and Rahane made a gutsy 52.
More than the margin of the victory, India would be proud of the way they won the match. It was all Australia until that Pujara-Rahane partnership but the way team India scripted the turnaround was nothing less than inspirational. Speaking of numbers, India finally managed to cross the 200 run mark themselves and also stopped the Australians under 200 runs for the first time in the series. Australia probably succumbed to the occasion and the fact that were close to getting an improbable and unassailable lead. Overall it was a cracker of a test match and a roller coaster of a ride which has set this series up nicely.
Brief Scores: Ind Vs Aus, 2nd Test, Bengaluru
India: 189 & 274
Australia: 276 & 112
India beat Australia by 75 runs
KL Rahul was the man of the match.