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The defining win of Virat’s captaincy
A third failure with the bat for the team. Australia 40-0 at the end of day 1 and seemingly likely to pile on the runs in the forthcoming days. The stakes and pressure could not be more against India at that moment. Add to this the lip given to Virat Kohli’s boys made the match all the more important. “The head of the snake” may not have contributed much with the bat this time, but he sure inspired his team to one of the most famous victories for India in recent times. So many contributors from the rest of the snake make Australia bite their words. All comments now from Australian players must be made with the bat or the ball, otherwise India will carry this incredible momentum forward.
The fightback began at the beginning of day 2. So many times commentators say that a particular session is crucial to decide the fate of the test match. The consensus was that the morning session on day 2 would be vital for the chances of India to comeback. The hope was to stop the momentum Australia had gained in the past 10 days. Boy, did the Indian bowlers deliver that. Conceding a miserly 47 runs overshadowed the inability to pick up more than two wickets. The players from the opposition now knew India “had arrived” in this test series. All the other teams who have toured India in the past 6 months will vouch for the fact that the tide India create is almost impossible to stop. Therefore, contrary to popular opinion, it would be the big fast bowlers in the form of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav who changed the game for India, not our spinners.
Still, a lot of work was remaining for the side to have a chance to even win the match. Australia had a lead in excess of 80 runs and India would ideally have to pass that by a long way. Despite a great effort by KL Rahul, the team was in trouble. 120-4 is effectively 35-4 in this situation. When Ajinkya Rahane entered the crease, the team once again had their backs to the wall. Failures in his last 9 innings provided even more pressure for Rahane, but the “champion partnership” with Pujara began. The first 100+ partnership of the series saw India really take control of this match. The “two best test batsman for India” were now at the heart of one of the team’s greatest ever partnerships in the past few years. It wasn’t quite Dravid-Laxman in terms of quantity and length, but it was as special as that.
The partnership did not put India out of sight, however. A quick collapse this morning put the shivers down every Indian fan in the world. 188 does not look like a mountain to many people, but on that pitch and against the best spinner in the world, it’s an absolute minefield. Criticism of Ashwin had been rife since Pune at his lack of wickets in that test match. Has he become tired because of the long test match season? Have people started to figure him out? Never discount champions, and Ashwin is certainly that. The soon to be all-time great delivered for his nation yet again with an astonishing 25th five wicket haul. Will anyone ever figure the Ashwin conundrum? It looks highly unlikely and India will hope that is the case for the foreseeable future.
As Virat’s boys now get ready for the next test match at Ranchi, the series is well and truly alive. Furthermore, in his captaincy tenure, this must be regarded as the best win and most special.