After dominant performances in the three series prior to this one, India were expected to roll over against Australia without much of a problem. However, when Australia destroyed India in Pune, it was clear this aggressive Aussie side were here to batter India. The second Test in Bangalore became the toughest and the most important Test match of this home season so far.
India’s Best Win Of This Home Season
The Test started brightly with India winning the toss and electing to bat first on a wicket which looked good for batting. What was to follow was the damage from Pune. India folded for 189 in 71 overs and no guesses for who did the most damage: a spinner. Nathan Lyon would take 8/50 – the best figures by a visiting bowler in India. KL Rahul again seemed to be batting on a different track with a very patient and gritty 90. Was the wicket that bad? No. India surrendered again to a spinner who this time just bowled the basic lengths.
Australia ended day one on a very positive note by reaching 40/0. It already looked like Australia were well on their way to retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Day two would see the level of Test Cricket go up a notch. The first session’s 29 overs produced 47/2, with the Indian bowlers hardly giving Australia a sniff, though a young Matt Renshaw admirably showed how to bat on a turner. India would go on to have another session of three wickets and the match soon looked even.
Shaun Marsh then proved why he is one of the best batsmen to ever visit Asia in recent times. A magnificent 66, in partnership with Matthew Wade, took Australia to a lead of 48 by the end of the second day. Day three would be the day India rose from the slumber as they dismissed the Aussies for 276 by picking up 4/39 in the first session and raced to 38/0 by lunch. The second session then produced high-class cricket in what became a compelling Test match. 4/84 in the session meant India went to tea at 122/4, leading by 35 runs.
The third session made everyone see what India is really all about. Cheteshwar Pujara would put on the invincible helmet, ably supported by Ajinkya Rahane. India did not lose a wicket in the entire session (the first one of the series by either team) and ended day two at 213/4, leading by 126. It was thought that on such tracks and heading into the final two days, a lead of 150+ would be match winning. However, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood would absolutely wreck the Indian ship on the fourth morning. The home side, from 213/4 overnight, were bowled out for 274. The collapse gave Australia a target of 188.
Then came the Indian fire. The skill and determination of Ravichandran Ashwin would be the key factor in Australia’s road to submission. India dished out the kind of bowling performance that Australia produced in Pune and Steve Smith’s men did not have a clue as to what struck them. India won by 75 runs to level the series 1-1.
So why was this India’s best win of the season so far? Simple. The Indians have not been challenged to such an extent by any team prior to Australia and no team did what Australia did in Pune. India also had their backs to the wall here, conceding a lead of 87 on a turning pitch. India battled and battled hard right from the second morning. A near impossible predicament started becoming possible because of the belief this group has. India needed to show why they are the top Test side in the world and they did just that. Ranchi comes next as another epic chapter awaits in the story of these two giants. It was India’s best win of the home season.