After being bundled out for 36 just over a week ago, many felt India was on their way to a proper hiding. With injuries and Australia’s battery of quicks firing, it could have gotten ugly quickly.
Instead, India bounced back just like the class outfit that they are on the field and squared the series at 1-1 after a big win over Australia at the MCG, making the MCG their mini Australian home in the process.
The game threw up plenty of talking points as the series got more intriguing. Here are the Top 6.
Opposing skippers ride their DRS luck:
With every passing decision, it seems that the controversy and uproar surrounding the DRS gets louder and louder. Captains Tim Paine and Ajinkya Rahane were at the center of some controversial third-umpire decisions during the match, Paine’s fortunes in the second innings flipped as he was contentiously adjudged caught behind from the bowling of Ravindra Jadeja.
This followed the eerily similar run-out calls of Paine and Rahane – which despite their similarity resulted in different decisions – with Paine ruled not out during his first innings and Rahane given out to end his, both by a matter of millimeters.
These decisions, alongside the ever-controversial ball-tracking system, again thrust the DRS into the frame of discussion. It leaves one particular question as a result – does more need to be done to maintain the consistency and accuracy of third-umpire decisions? With what’s been seen in the BBL umpiring, it could only be a matter of time before there’s a crucial mistake that costs a team the match.
Australia’s brittle batting continues:
Continuing the trend of the first test, Australia’s top order was significantly exposed by India’s undermanned yet potent bowling cartel. Untimely injuries to David Warner and uncapped run-machine Will Pucovski have evidently left the hosts lacking in top-order firepower, though as shown in the first two Tests of the series, the issues run deeper into the middle order as well. Australia has been exposed to the lack of depth within their order when one of their key middle-order cogs fails, namely Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne, who have held the middle order together in Summers’ past.
Remarkably, this match was the first in Australia since 1988 in which any Australian player failed to score a half-century, and marks the first time since 1993 that Australia failed to pass 200 in three consecutive innings.
With Warner firming to be fit and Pucovski cleared for selection in the third test, as well as Joe Burns seemingly a necessary omission, it’s likely that the Aussies will swing a few changes ahead of the New Years’ Test. But what will they be? Speculation continues as to whether Matthew Wade will continue as an opener if Travis Head’s middle-order position is in Jeopardy, or whether young star Cameron Green could be dropped. There’s no doubt that this intrigue will continue into the next week, but will Australia be better for it?
Fielding wins test matches:
A week is a long time in sport. A session is even longer in Test Match Cricket. It took India a session to lose the game last week at Adelaide Oval and it took Australia a session to lose their grip on a tense battle, allowing India to get away to a big win.
Last week it was India who could not hold their catches and could have bowled Australia out for far less than 191 in their first innings before Australia caught everything, rolling India for 36 in the process. On Day 2 at the MCG, Australia dropped 6 catches and had a few more chances fall short of the slip cordon. The Pivotal moment of the match when Steve Smith dropped Ajinka Rahane on 73 not long after Australia took the 2nd new ball proved to be the point of no return for Australia.
With these missed chances potentially allowing India an extra 70 runs – or more – to its lead, Australia’s second innings could have been entirely different had it gone into the innings with a few extra runs up its sleeve.
While the batsmen need to make enough runs for their bowlers to finish the job, it means very little if it isn’t backed up by a team effort in the field. This is undoubtedly an area Australia will need to address heading into the rest of the series.
Is Ravindra Jadeja tracking to be one of India’s best ever players?
Among all the legendary and classy batsman and cricketers that India has produced, only one of them has scored 3 triple centuries at Ranji Trophy level. That person walked to the MCG crease at number 7 for India and played a big role in taking the game away from the Australians.
His career numbers to date suggest that Ravindra Jadeja should be a shoo-in in every Indian team that takes the field no matter the format of the game. An asset with the bat, ball, and in the field, he possesses the all-round ability to win games on his own. Since 2018 he has averaged 57.15 with the bat and since 2016 has averaged 24.16 with the ball in Test Cricket alone. Only one player in the history of the game has averaged higher with the bat and lower with the ball, former Pakistan captain Imran Khan.
Jadeja has been ranked as the World’s no 1 Test bowler and all-rounder previously – both at the same time – and there is no reason why he cannot reach those heights again soon.
Young Talent time:
India’s response to Australia unveiling Cameron Green was to introduce us to Shubman Gill. The elegant right-hander made a sparkling impression in his debut at the MCG. After arriving in Australia on an even keel with fellow prospective young gun Prithvi Shaw has gone streets ahead of him and is set to play a far more meaningful role in the series as his young teammate.
Australia will be buoyed by what they saw from Cameron Green in his 2nd outing at Test level, with a calm and composed 45 in the second innings to go with his handy overs in the first innings too, taking the strain off the frontline bowling cartel. Is it time for another prodigious youngster to be finally unveiled and introduced to the test arena come the 3rd Test?
A pitch to be proud of:
Only 18 months ago Melbourne was in grave danger of losing the right to host Test cricket due to docile and lifeless pitches. A serious pat on the back to curator Matt Page for turning the fortunes of Cricket at the MCG around and producing a Test match wicket that had quite a bit to offer everyone. Swing, seam, Grass, Sideways movement, and if you dug in deep enough, it was a pretty good track to bat on as well.
Still swinging and playing a few tricks as we ticked into the afternoon of Day 4 when the game was ultimately won and done.