Rahane trumps Australia to series-levelling victory

Hungry for redemption, India recorded a win for the ages under an inspirational Ajinkya Rahane, beating Australia by eight wickets in the second Test to level the four-match series 1-1 here on Tuesday.

The target of 70 was never a big one but for a team that was bowled out for its all-time lowest score of 36 only 10 days back, one can’t fault them if that played  at the back of their minds.

Shubman Gill (35 not out) and skipper Rahane (27 not out) knocked off the runs in 15.5 overs to complete the victory.

This was after the quartet comprising Jasprit Bumrah (2/54 in 27 overs), debutant Mohammed Siraj (3/37 in 21.3 overs), Ravichandran Ashwin (2/71 in 37.1 overs) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/28 in 14 overs) showed maniacal consistency over a period of 100 overs on the flattest of decks, where extra bounce became their go-to weapon.

“The talk was all about showing attitude, intent and character. One hour took the game away from us in Adelaide, but we still have a lot to learn,” Rahane said in the post-match presentation.

Indian teams, since the turn of the new millennium, have had some memorable overseas victories but when the backdrop and context of this Test at the iconic MCG is recorded for posterity, Rahane and his magnificent bowling unit will find more than an honourable mention in the pages of history.

“Really proud of all the players, credit to our debutants Gill and Siraj. The way they showed character was amazing,” Rahane said.

The Indian teams of yore used to lose stomach for a good scrap after humiliating defeats but not this one. It stood out for the manner of its comeback in the absence of a genius called Virat Kohli and a magician in Mohammed Shami.

Australia captain Tim Paine had nothing to offer as an explanation for why his side could not capitalise on the big absences. “Very disappointed, played poor cricket, sloppy cricket. Let’s not take anything away from India, they forced us to make mistakes,” he said.

India were also hamstrung by Umesh Yadav’s calf muscle injury mid-match which reduced a five-pronged bowling attack to four men. But in the last three and half days, Rahane, first with his hundred and then with solid leadership, showed what Kohli meant when he spoke about ‘New India’.