One of the most heated battles you’ll ever see on a cricket field finished with a bang as the home side were able to use the fourth innings wicket to their advantage, knocking Australia over for a dismal 112 in the last innings and winning comfortably in a thrilling contest at Bengaluru.
If you watched the first three days of the test, it was crystal-clear that Australia were in a commanding position to win and go 2-0 up in the series as India continued to shoot themselves in the foot. It was KL Rahul who saved India’s first innings from a total shamble, accumulating a sturdy 90 runs off 205 deliveries before India were trundled out for 189. A dreamlike performance with the ball from Nathan Lyon who completely dislodged the Indians on another spin-friendly wicket claiming an eight-wicket haul, the most controversial of them was Virat Kohli who once again decided to offer no shot which gave the umpire no choice but to stick the finger up. The Indian captain’s bizarre decision to review the original call backfired on him big time, given his marching orders for yet another mediocre score in the series. After that first innings, it appeared there were plenty of demons hiding in this pitch, it just wasn’t visible on the first day. India were already in the firing line and really needed to produce early breakthroughs in Australia’s first innings if they were any chance of turning the match in their favor.
It wasn’t to be, Australia managed to make it 21 overs into their innings before they lost David Warner for 33 who was undone by a brilliant ball from Ravi Ashwin who knocked the openers off stump back. After Ravindra Jadeja picked up the wickets of Smith, Renshaw and Handscomb, India started to fire up with the contest starting to balance out, and the wicket of Mitchell Marsh who was trapped plumb in front by Ishant Sharma finally gave the Indians some momentum. Just when India looked like running through the Australians just as Nathan Lyon did to them, Shaun Marsh was able to battle through a tough period and stay out in the middle for 197 balls, scoring 66 crucial runs in the process. He teamed up with wicketkeeper Matthew Wade as the pair put on 57 runs for the sixth wicket, Wade went onto score 40 and managed to hang around for 113 deliveries, furthermore frustrating Kohli & India. Australia were bowled out for 276, Ravindra Jadeja was the best of the bowlers picking up 6/63 off his 21.4 overs. Ravi Ashwin bowled a colossal 49 overs for just the two wicket, talk about a spinners workload!
India’s second innings was a big improvement on their first, they had individuals who were up to the task of taking it to the Australian attack and were rewarded for their determination and aggression. It was KL Rahul who once again started proceedings with yet another half-century, unfortunately a blinder from Steve Smith at first slip off Steve O’Keefe’s bowling sent him on his way after an impressive start. That certainly got the Australia’s confidence up, they were extremely spirited in their celebration. Surprise surprise, Virat Kohli was in the spotlight once again with the DRS after Hazlewood trapped him in front, this time offering a shot but hitting in line according to the ball tracker. Kohli reviewed the original decision hoping for some bat before pad, in the end it looked like both ball and pad were touching the bat in the same frame, it was deemed as inconclusive. They gave Kohli a generous send off, it’s rare to see the Indian captain in this sort of form, especially at home. A cool-headed Cheteshwar Pujara teamed up with Ajinkya Rahane as the two put on 118 runs for the fifth wicket, in many ways that was the turning point in the game with a 100+ partnership keeping the Indians in it. Out of nowhere, Mitchell Starc sent down two fireballs that trapped Rahane in front for 52 and breaking Karun Nair’s leg stump off an inside edge for a golden duck, Australia were relentless! India scrapped their way to a respectable total, but they had set a target of 188 runs which looked a bit short of the mark at the time. Josh Hazlewood finished with 6/67 in a dominant display with the ball, it was up to Australia’s batting lineup to get the job done.
A target of 188 was going to be a tight chase, a defendable score on this type of deck but very chaseable if a couple batsman get set and start hitting the gaps in the field. Matt Renshaw was the first to go for just five, decking back in off a crack and collecting a piece of Renshaw’s glove through to Saha. David Warner was the next for 17, although this was one of the most atrocious LBW decisions to date. Warner reviewed, the ball was pitching outside the line but still hitting the stumps, but that should have been an automatic reprieve for Warner given it was pitching outside the line. Warner walked, and the Indians were starting to really spice up the contest with some choice words when captain Steve Smith walked to the wicket at 1-22. Shaun Marsh couldn’t replicate his grueling-first innings knock as he was caught on the crease as Umesh Yadav got the ball to deck off another crack which left him helpless as the finger was raised. The ball was missing the stumps by a fair bit on ball tracker, but Australia didn’t choose to review. In the meantime, Smith was trying to work his team back into the match contributing a couple of boundaries before he to was struck in front by Yadav and given, this was where the contest hit fever-pitch as Smith looked to the dugout for clarification on the decision. A furious Virat Kohli made his way over to Smith as the captains exchanged words once again, Smith dismissed for 28. After Ravi Ashwin picked up both Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade in a space of three overs, Australia were well and truly gone at 7-103. Peter Handscomb was left to produce a miracle with the bat on a wicket that had more cracks than a canyon, Starc and O’Keefe were both clean bowled for single digits and Handscomb’s mindset completely changed as a result of those wickets. An extravagant heave from Handscomb that caught the edge of his bat went straight through to Saha, Australia were dead and buried as the Australian No. 5 departed for 24. Ravi Ashwin finished off the innings with a caught & bowled, claiming his sixth wicket as the Indians flocked around Ashwin in joy, they had just pulled off a come from behind win to level the series!
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.