India scripted an unlikely 75 run victory at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru to level the ongoing India vs Australia series 1-1 on Tuesday, wrapping up the Australian second innings on the penultimate day itself.
The hosts had opted to bat after winning the toss but managed a paltry 189 in the first innings, with Nathan Lyon owning the mantle of wrecker-in-chief for the Australians, bagging an impressive 8-50 to give the visitors a series chance of winning the series.
Opener Kl Rahul struck a priceless 90, but with the rest of the Indian top-order folding without much of a fight, the momentum swung the Aussies’ way, not for the last time as it would turn out.
Australia had at one point, looked certain to cross the 300-run mark in their first innings but a late collapse triggered by Ravindra Jadeja (6-63) limited their total to a decent 276. Young opener Matt Renshaw (60) and Shaun Marsh (66) had given the visitors a good platform to build on, but with Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh unable to to get going, they required a cameo from wicketkeeper Matthew Wade (40) to get a lead of 87 runs.
India’s second innings, which began on Monday, looked likely to set an improbable target of 300 runs for Australia after an excellent partnership between Cheteshwar Pujara (92) and Ajinkya Rahane (52) had put India in a position of control at stumps.
Tuesday, was the most exhilarating single day of the series so far, with Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood striking in quick succession with the new ball to rock India.
Starc was on a hat-trick after removing Rahane and Karun Nair (0) and while he was unable to get a treble, Hazlewood struck twice in the following over to stun the hosts, who never recovered and were bundled out for 274, setting the Australians a target of 188 to win the match.
While in theory the target was achievable, on a fast-deteriorating Bengaluru pitch it was easier said than done
For Australia’s slump began when the dangerous Mitchell Marsh (13) was caught by Nair off Ravichandran Ashwin after a decent start had sparked fears that the visitors could take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series by chasing the target down.
Matthew Wade (0) and Mitchell Starc (1) departed far too quickly for Australia’s liking and the Ashwin (6-41) finished off the remaining tail to get the 25th fiver of his stellar career and give India a morale-boating win at Bengaluru.
Those who complain about Test cricket being boring, were given the perfect riposte by two super-competitive teams who gave their everything to script a sporting spectacle like no other.
The next Test is scheduled for Ranchi which gets underway on March 16 and while Australia will look to avenge their loss, one feels Virat Kohli and co will be even more aggressive and look to counter their great rivals.