With captain Ajinkya Rahane’s imposing hundreds in difficult conditions and his century partnership with Ravindra Jadeja, India scored 277 for five in their first innings here on Sunday, the second day of the second Test cricket match against Australia. Rahane, who took charge of captaincy under odd circumstances, led the way as a skilled commander as regular captain Virat Kohli returned home on paternity leave. He is still at the crease scoring 104 runs. He got a good partner in the form of Jadeja (40 not out) with whom he has added 104 runs for the sixth wicket so far.
India dismissed Australia for 195 in the first innings on the first day of the match. In this way, the Indian team has now got a lead of 82 runs. India would like to increase it as much as possible and this increase could prove to be decisive given the nature of the pitch and the strong attack of the team. India are trailing 0–1 in the series due to losing the first match in Adelaide by eight wickets. Rahane initially took a cautious attitude but he soon came back to his true colors and did not let the bowlers dominate.
He put the first reliable shot on Josh Hazlewood and then batted with full confidence. His drives and late cuts were worth watching. He completed his 12th Test century with a beautiful cover drive over Hazlewood. He became the fifth Indian captain to score a century on Australian soil. Rahane had complete tenacity when opener Shubman Gill (45), veteran Cheteshwar Pujara (17), Hanuma Vihari (21) and Rishabh Pant (29) failed to play long innings despite spending enough time at the crease. And by batting with resolve, the Australian bowlers brought India back on the backfoot.
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One has to praise Jadeja, who presented a good example of his batting prowess and then gave good support to his captain even though the team was in dire need of a big partnership. Jadeja kept a check on himself and preferred keeping wickets which was very important then. Rahane has so far faced 12 balls and faced 12 fours while Jadeja’s 104-ball innings included one four. India lost two wickets in the first two seasons, but in the third season, they did not let Australia get any success and it also contributed to their poor fielding.
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Australia took the new ball after completing 80 overs. Rahane was then playing for 73 runs. Mitchell Starc (2 for 61) gets the wicket of Rahane in the first over of the new ball but Steve Smith drops the catch. The Indian captain got life again on Stark’s short pitch ball even after completing his century. This time Travis could not catch the head catch, after which the day’s play was terminated early due to rain. India started the day at 36 for one wicket and started cautiously but Pat Cummins (2 for 71) sent off the unbeaten batsmen Gill and Pujara to the pavilion within 11 balls.
Playing his first Test match, the 21-year-old Gill made a few good shots in his 65-ball knock at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Pujara batted cautiously as usual and faced 70 balls. Gill was the first batsman to be dismissed in the morning. He gave Penn an easy catch off Cummins. Cummins brought Pujara to the pavilion in his next over, giving Australia significant success. The ball, taken by Cummins, kissed Pujara’s bat and went into the gloves of Penn, who took a beautiful catch by diving.
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After this, Vihari and Pant also could not take advantage of a good start. Rahane had two half-century partnerships of 52 with Vihari and 57 with Pant, which helped the team recover. Vihari lost his wicket in an attempt to sweep off-spinner Nathan Lyon off the stump. Pant was looking in good rhythm when Mitchell Starc took the edge of his bat and went into the gloves of wicketkeeper Tim Paine. It was Penn’s 150th victim in Test matches and Stark’s 250th wicket. Earlier in the morning on the first ball of the day, Captain Penn felt that she had taken the edge of Gill’s bat. He resorted to the Decision Review System (DRS) but his guess turned out to be wrong and Australia missed a ‘review’.