India’s Epic Test Comeback: There was a lot of anticipation around the Border-Gavaskar trophy. Australia was expected to challenge India. They were coming off a brilliant run across conditions. Pat Cummins had a terrific start to his Test captaincy. Australia brushed aside England and South Africa at home. They drew a series in Sri Lanka and won in Pakistan. India was touted as their big last party.
India’s Epic Test Comeback – Part VI
India at home has been a different beast, especially in the last 15 years. The side has just lost two Tests since the start of 2013. England was the last side that defeated India in 2012. Australia incidentally was the side that had won a series prior to that in India in 2003-04. Post 2004, Australia won just a single Test in India. Their win came in Pune in 2017 on a raging turner. India then won the next two of the remaining three Tests to win the series. But the Aussies did give India a scare.
The familiar script in the first Test:
There were a lot of hues and cries over the pitch used in the first Test in Nagpur. Australian batsmen seemed to have mentally conceded the game even before the ball was bowled. It was the Indian bowlers who did the early damage amidst all the talk of spin dominating the proceedings. Australia could muster just 177 runs in the first innings. India in reply posted 400. Australia’s second innings came up a cropper as they could score just 91 runs. India registered an innings win. There were doubts about whether the series would turn out to be lopsided.
The mega scare in the second Test:
Australia once again won a decisive toss. They had no hesitation in batting first. Usman Khwaja, Marnus Labuschagne, and Peter Handscomb played their parts in helping the Aussies post a decent score of 263. It was the first instance during the tour when the Aussie tail wagged to chip in with more than 90 runs. Nathan Lyon spun a web around the Indian top-order. Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja tried to build a steady partnership but it wasn’t long enough. India was in dire straits at 139-7.
India’s spin allrounders come to the rescue again:
Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin started cautiously. Ashwin found boundaries at the start and soon Axar took over. He was severe against the left-arm spinner. India went into Tea with the hope of coming close to Australia’s total. The partnership kept growing as India touched the 250 mark. India’s last two wickets though could just add 10 runs to the total post the Axar-Ashwin show. The home side came so close to gaining a lead but had to settle for a deficit of 1 run.
Australia’s attack on day 2:
Travis Head walked in to open as David Warner was ruled out owing to a concussion. He immediately had an impact on the game as India’s spinners for the first time appeared clueless. The Aussies raced to 61-1 at the end of 12 overs. Indian fans were worried about the way the day panned out. Australia’s attacking approach looked likely to take the game away from them.
The unraveling on day 3:
Ashwin dismissed Head on the very first over to provide a sign of things to come. Labuschagne and Steve Smith seemed to be in control until Smith played an ill-fated sweep off Ashwin. His dismissal opened up the floodgates as Ravindra Jadeja ran riot with his hit the line and length of the stumps. The Aussies were bowled out for 113. All the talk of how they were in the driving seat was rendered baseless. India required 115 to win and they won quite comfortably in the end.
The fort was defended and the dominance extended:
India’s clinical performance on day 3 just showed why they are so difficult to beat at home. From being in a vulnerable position at the start of day 3 to winning inside two sessions, India is one side that is cut from a different cloth in home conditions. The fort remains strong and it will take something very special for a visiting side to breach it!