Regular captain Virat Kohli yesterday led the tributes to India after the side picked themselves up from their Adelaide mauling to deliver an eight-wicket victory against Australia in the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Returning home after the series opener to attend the birth of his first child, Kohli left behind a team demoralized by their thrashing inside three days in Adelaide, where they registered their lowest Test innings total of 36.
The tourists, who were also without injured quick Mohammed Shami in Melbourne, did not seem to miss Kohli’s influence, with stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane inspiring them to victory.
“What a win this is, absolutely amazing effort by the whole team,” Kohli wrote on Twitter. “Couldn’t be happier for the boys and specially Jinks who led the team to victory amazingly. Onwards and upwards from here.”
India’s build-up for the series was marred by injuries to opener Rohit Sharma (hamstring) and quick Ishant Sharma (side strain). A fit-again Rohit is to join the squad today after completing his quarantine period.
“To win a test match without Virat, Rohit, Ishant & Shami is a terrific achievement,” India great Sachin Tendulkar wrote on Twitter. “Loved the resilience and character shown by the team to put behind the loss in the 1st test and level the series. Brilliant win.”
India coach Ravi Shastri called the win one of the great comebacks of all time.
“I think this will go down in the annals of Indian cricket, world cricket, as one of the great comebacks in the history of the game,” Shastri said after they leveled the series 1-1. “To be rolled over for 36, then three days later to get up and be ready to punch was outstanding.”
India’s win was built on a first-innings century by Rahane on their way to 326 in reply to Australia’s 195, with young debutant Shubman Gill also excelling with the bat.
Australia resumed their second innings on Day 4 on 133-6 with a two-run lead, and their hopes resting on 21-year-old rookie all-rounder Cameron Green.
He made 45 as they battled to 200 before tailender Josh Hazlewood was the last man to fall before lunch.
Rahane and Gill (35) saw India home, but not before some nervous moments.
Mitchell Starc got a nick from the out-of-form Mayank Agarwal (5), which Tim Paine caught, then Pat Cummins snared Cheteshwar Pujara for 3, edged to Green at gully.
That left India 19-2 before they regained their composure to seal the win.
To make matters worse for Australia, they were fined 40 percent of their match fee and docked four World Test Championship points for a slow over-rate.
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