Saying India had their back to the wall heading into this Test would be an understatement. Virat Kohli was supposed to go home and a 36 all out in Adelaide did not help to fill for his loss. In addition, Mohammed Shami was out of the tour. Making things worse, India lost Umesh Yadav at the beginning of the second innings of this Test, a point when batting had become easier. It was a phase when Australia could have barged their way into the game.
Generally, losing one of your frontline pacers is a sucker punch to your chances in a Test match. That was not the case with this Indian team which had already shattered every obstacle in their way to dictate terms throughout the game. They carried the supremacy into the fourth day’s play as well.
Leading by 2 runs at the start of play today, Australia had pinned their hopes on Cameron Green and Pat Cummins to give them something to bowl at. The pair almost batted through the first hour, giving India only two ‘what if’ chances. In the first such instance, Jasprit Bumrah induced the outside edge of Cummins’ bat only to find it fall short of Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip. Soon, it was Ashwin’s turn to find an edge, a thickening inside part of Cummins’ bat which went through a vacant backward-short leg. Cummins, otherwise, was solid. He padded out most of Ashwin’s deliveries later which was bowled with the intention of getting him caught down the leg side afterwards.
The duo had added 50 runs for the seventh wicket. Nothing threatening yet, it was just a glimmer of hope for Australia.
But as the visitors did throughout the game, they shut the door on their opponents as soon as they appeared to re-emerge in the contest. India took the new ball as soon as it was available and Jasprit Bumrah did the trick with a snorter that ended Cummins’ resistance at the stroke of the first drinks break. The batsman ballooned it up to Mayank Agarwal in the slip cordon to be dismissed for 22 off 103 balls.
He welcomed Mitchell Starc in a similar manner, albeit, without dismissing him. Mohammed Siraj soon replaced Bumrah and kept the Australian batsmen on the backfoot keeping his length on the shorter side. The skiddy nature of his bowling eventually made way for India’s second strike of the morning. Green, having looked good to score a half-century, mistimed a pull shot to Ravindra Jadeja at mid-wicket.
Siraj persisted with that strategy. Nathan Lyon tried to take him on but perished in a failed attempt to pull a short ball angling across him. All he could manage was a glove to Rishabh Pant. With nine down, the umpires extended the morning session by half an hour.
Starc and Josh Hazlewood tried their best to bat out the phase. After adding 15 runs for the 10th wicket, which took Australia to their first 200-run total of the series, Hazlewood left a straighter one from R Ashwin which thudded onto his off-stump.
Tasked to chase 70 post Lunch, India lost Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara in the first six overs. For a team which registered their lowest score in Test cricket in the previous game, a score of 19 for two will bring some jitters, no matter what the target is. However, Rahane’s presence, after his terrific hundred in the first innings brought some calmness. Shubman Gill struck a number of eye-catching boundaries, making sure there are no question marks over his place once Rohit Sharma is available for the next Test.
Australia eventually gave up when India were 10 runs away from their target by bringing Marnus Labuschagne to bowl. Rahane drove him through the covers on the last ball of his first over, bringing the 50-run stand for the third wicket. Next over, he pulled Lyon for a single to complete one of the most memorable Test wins in the the country’s history. It was a fitting end too, with the stand-in captain and the man-of-the-match, Ajinkya Rahane hitting the winning run.