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India crumble for 36 at the Adelaide Oval

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Last updated on 19 Dec 2023 | 06:00 AM
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India crumble for 36 at the Adelaide Oval

In what was one of the biggest low points of India's Test journey, they made a historic comeback to secure the series 2-1

India’s batting collapse against Australia was more shocking than disheartening to the fans, mostly because of the form that the side had been in. Under Virat Kohli’s captaincy, the Indian team enjoyed an unbelievable 42 months at the top of the ICC rankings, and they didn’t approach the 2020-21 Border Gavaskar Trophy on a poor note either.

The pandemic had stopped cricket for almost a year, dampening the spirits of many, which made India’s tour down under trickier. However, the side had won seven of their last 10 Test series, with notable home wins against South Africa and Australia. The team’s uncertainty did play a role in this debacle, though, as captain Kohli was returning home after the first Test with the captaincy role due to be handed over to Ajinkya Rahane.

India didn’t make their chaos evident though, as they had started the series opener well at the Adelaide Oval on December 17, 2020. After Prithvi Shaw was dismissed for a duck on just the second ball of the game and Mayank Agarwal soon followed suit, veterans Cheteshwar Pujara and captain Kohli stitched together a 156-run stand to steady the side.

India had ended Day 1 in 233/6 with new batsmen Wriddhiman Saha and Ravichandran Ashwin standing at the crease. After Kohli was run out for 74, only Ajinkya Rahane provided some support with a crucial 42-run knock, following which India’s lower order collapsed in the blink of an eye.

Mitchell Starc had ended the first innings with a four-wicket haul while Pat Cummins took three scalps as the visitors were wrapped up for a fighting 244 runs in the first innings.

India started stronger with the ball as Jasprit Bumrah removed openers Joe Burns and Matthew Wade for a joint 16 runs. This was before Ashwin came into play and took the wickets of Steve Smith (1), Travis Head (7) and Cameron Green (11) to hand India an early foundation.

Australia’s only run-getters were Marnus Labuschagne (47) and captain Tim Paine (73*), as Australia somehow reached a respectable tally of 191 runs in this first dig. Barring Bumrah and Ashwin, Umesh Yadav had done well to take two wickets as India led by 62 runs while going to bat in the second innings on Day 2.

With their bowlers spitting fire and the match very much in their control, the visitors were the favourites when the match resumed on Day 3, December 19, 2020. However, little did the crowd or players could imagine how the day would pan.

The collapse had started on Day 2 itself with Mayank Agarwal getting nine runs with Shaw and nightwatchman Bumrah standing at the crease. Pat Cummins set the stage for Australia by taking out Shaw and Bumrah in the next eight runs and the story didn’t change after that.

While Kohli and Pujara had guided India to safety after an early collapse in the first innings, Cummins ensured that wasn’t repeated as the middle-order batting duo went for 0 and 2, respectively, to reduce India to 19/6 after 19 overs.

The match completely changed after Josh Hazlewood removed Rahane (0), Hanuma Vihari (8) and Saha (4). Suddenly, the visitors were struggling to save themselves from the unwanted record of tallying the lowest total in Test match history - 26 runs - which is held by New Zealand.

Thankfully, Hanuma Vihari and Umesh Yadav took India past that shameful threshold as the visitors ended up tallying the fifth-lowest Test score (36 runs) ever to hand Australia a target of 90 runs. The visitors would chase it within 21 overs to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Surprisingly, India went on to win this series 2-1 after their infamous start to it. Youngsters Shubman Gill and Rishabh Pant, who would later come into the first eleven during the series, had helped the visitors retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a historic win at Gabba, where Australia hadn’t lost for 32 years prior to that.

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