India put up 443 on the board in their first innings on the back of powerful batting displays by Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma
India registered a well-earned victory in the Melbourne Test against Australia on Sunday, going up 2-1 in the four-Test series. India put up 443 on the board in their first innings on the back of powerful batting displays by Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
Jasprit Bumrah then turned up and wrecked the Australian batting, picking up six wickets for 33 runs and the hosts were bundled out for 151. Australia didn't throw in the towel though and engineered a collapse when India came out for their second essay. Still, India's first innings lead was so much that they could still force the issue and eventually Australia ran out of steam to lose by 137 runs.
In the process, India became the fifth country after Australia, England, West Indies and South Africa to win 150 Tests. They also brought up their third Test win at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and the first since 1980-81. Kohli also equalled Sourav Ganguly as the most successful Indian captain in away Tests, with 11 wins out of 24 matches that he has been at the helm for India.
Here are four factors that turned the match in favour of India
1. India taking a mammoth lead in the first innings
Cheteshwar Pujara's workman-like hundred, Virat Kohli's classy 82 and Rohit Sharma's handy 63 not out helped India post 443 on the board in the first innings. It turned out to be sizeable total in the context of the game, after winning the toss and batting first. After Bumrah ripped the Australian batting apart, forcing the hosts to be bundled out for 151, the Australians always had to play catch up. The massive 292-run lead meant that even a second innings collapse could not deter India from marching resolutely towards eventual victory.
2. Bumrah's fiery bowling
Bumrah, who made his Test debut for India against South Africa in January this year, has emerged as India's frontline seamer in red-ball cricket too and has accounted for most wickets this year in Tests for India. He has become Kohli's go-to man in a very short period of time.
Bumrah made the difference in the Melbourne Test with his accurate and fiery spells, registering his best Test figure of 6/33 in the first innings to help India gain a commanding lead of 292 runs. Bumrah has claimed 20 wickets in three Test matches in the series so far. Without a doubt, the pick of the Indian bowlers so far.
3. The absence of Steve Smith and David Warner
Australia don't have the services of two of their batting stalwarts in Steve Smith and David Warner, who are serving out bans for ball-tampering. Without the duo, the hosts' batting has looked fragile and even captain Tim Paine has claimed that the inexperienced Aussie batsmen had not faced the kind of quality bowling that the Indians possess, which has been one of the reasons for their success. Much was expected from Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja, but they disappointed too.
Paine acknowledged that the absence of Smith and Warner had hurt them, adding that if Kohli and Pujara are taken out of the Indian side, the visitors would struggle too.
Warner has scored 6,363 runs for Australia in 74 Tests at a rate of 48.20. On home soil, his record is even better. The left-handed opener has scored 3,698 runs Down Under at a rate of 59.64.
Former captain Smith, on the other hand, has accumulated 6,199 runs in 64 matches at an average of 61.37 and in Australia, his record reads 3,090 runs in 29 matches at a tremendous rate of 77.25. He has always had a good time against India, having 10 matches for 1,429 runs and has a jaw-dropping average of 84.05 versus India in Tests. It his second-best Test average after that against West Indies.
No wonder, Australia missed the Warner-Smith duo.
4. Dropped catches cost Australia
The Aussies are known to be born athletes but it was a different story altogether at the MCG, where they dropped as many as four catches in India's first innings. India put up a big total and then put pressure on Australia. The visitors also ground the Aussies, keeping them on the field for nearly two days. Had the catches been taken, the result of the match could well have been different, who knows?
While Starc was denied a wicket during a menacing spell of fast bowling as Kohli was dropped by wicket-keeper and captain Paine at the end of Day 1. Lyon was the most unlucky as he suffered from three drop catches off his bowling. Peter Siddle, Travis Head and Pat Cummins gave reprieves to Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant respectively.
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Last Updated Dec 31, 2018, 7:22 PM IST