India wins the Bengaluru Test to level the series one-all

By Kersi Meher-Homji

Wonders will never cease. Down in the dumps after being thrashed by 333 runs by Australia in the first Test at Pune and being shot out for 189 runs in the first innings of the second Test at Bengaluru, India proved all experts, gurus and pandits wrong by beating Australia by 75 runs to level the series 1-all.

Twenty minutes after tea on day-3 it looked almost certain that Australia will win the Test easily and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with two Tests still to go. At that time, India was 4-120, virtually 4-33 as they trailed Australia by 87 runs in the first innings.

It appeared doom and gloom for the Indian spectators as the consistent Lokesh Rahul and the highly ranked batsman Virat Kohli were dismissed.

Then came the 118 run stand between stylish Indian batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara (92 runs) and Ajinkya Rahane (52) which changed the complexion of this excitingly roller-coaster Test.

It was Test cricket at its best; slow in tempo but vibrant with thrills.

Set 188 runs to win, Australia was spun out for 112, off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin being the destroyer with a 6-41 spell.

As expected it turned out to be a spinners’ paradise with Australia’s off-spinner Nathan Lyon capturing 8-50 on the opening day and India’s left-arm orthodox Ravindra Jadeja grabbing 6-63 later on.

However, the pitch had something to offer for fast bowlers too. India was cruising at 4-238 in the second innings but lost their last six wickets for 36 runs when the new ball was taken. Baby-faced quickie Josh Hazlewood captured 6-67.

On the final day, 16 wickets toppled for 173 runs.

Three bowlers (Australia’s Lyon and Mitchell Starc and India’s Jadeja) were on hat-tricks during this Test but the third batsman foiled their efforts.

Surprisingly in a match dominated by bowlers, India’s opening batsman Lokesh Rahul scoring 90 and 51 runs was adjudged man of the match.

After this loss will Australia make changes? About time Usman Khawaja is chosen in place of the disappointing all-rounder Mitchell Marsh. In this series he has scored 4 and 31 in the first Test at Pune and 0 and 13 at Bengaluru. That is 48 runs at a poor average of 12.00 in the series so far. And he has failed to take a wicket.

For India, opener Murali Vijay should replace Abhinav Mukund who failed in both the innings.

The series is wide open now. Although Kohli failed with the bat in both the Tests he led the team with aggression in the second Test.

Unfortunately, the Test was full of controversies involving both teams guilty of sledging. Rival captains Steve Smith and Kohli were reported for various on-field incidents but no action will be taken by ICC against them.

 

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