As India marched in the Melbourne Cricket Ground after being put in to bowl first, almost everyone was still thinking of the Adelaide Test but Ajinkya Rahane and his team needed to move on. And they showed that they have done that with another brilliant bowling performance.
India were 36/1 in their first innings in reply to Australia’s 195 all out at stumps on the opening day of the second Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday. Debutant Shubman Gill was batting on 28 with Cheteshwar Pujara (7) for company.
Earlier, an inspired Indian bowling unit, led by the menacing Jasprit Bumrah (4/56) and the crafty Ravichandran Ashwin (3/35), steam-rolled Australia for a meagre 195. The other debutant for India, Mohammed Siraj (2/40 in 15 overs) also repaid the faith shown in him.
In the process, Australia were bowled out for less than 200 at MCG, after winning the toss and opting to bat first, for the first time since December 1981 (against West Indies).
At close of play, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar tried to make sense of Day 1 for the broadcaster Sony Ten 1:
On Rahane’s captaincy
What we have seen in Ajinkya Rahane in the few Tests he has captained and the few ODIs is that he has a great sense of where the fielders should be kept. Having said that, it is very important for the bowlers to bowl to their field. If the bowlers don’t bowl to their field, then the captain doesn’t look good. But if they bowl to the field as they did today, then the captain looks very good.
So the important thing is not to jump to conclusions too quickly. And if I say that his captaincy is outstanding then again I will be accused of being a Mumbai boy and all kinds of things will happen because these are early days and it is important for India to look beyond that it is only Rahane’s captaincy (that made things happen).
It is the way Ashwin bowled. It’s the way Bumrah bowled. It’s the way Siraj made his debut. I mean imagine if you are a new ball bowler and you don’t get to bowl a single delivery before the second session. Only in the second session do you get to bowl, after 27 overs when the ball has lost some of its shine and the seam has lost a bit of its hardness. He showed great spirit in the way he came out and bowled. So I think these are the things we need to enjoy a lot more. And that tells you a lot about this Indian team. They were at the Australians and they got the early wicket. If they hadn’t got the early wicket… if Australia had got to 60-70 for the opening wicket then the body language might have been different.
Shubman Gill as opener
What I liked about him was that he wasn’t fazed by playing and missing in the first couple of overs. He wasn’t able to lay bat on ball but he didn’t lose his cool, he didn’t lose his focus and when the half-volley came along he hit it for the boundary. He has got this great timing so you can see even if the ball doesn’t go high over the left shoulder, he is hitting the ball very, very nicely and that is a good sign because if you have the solidity of Pujara at one end, then you need someone to keep the scoreboard ticking. And if this partnership flourishes tomorrow in the first hour or at least in the first session, then India will be well placed to take control of the match. But still there is a long, long way to go.
Very good cricket wicket. In the first session itself, the ball was thudding into the keeper’s gloves. In the first session itself, Jadeja was getting a little bit of turn. You have Ashwin getting a lot of turn. That doesn’t happen to often. In fact, my eye were wide open when I saw Ashwin get turn. I said, ‘Hang on, is this an Australian pitch where the ball is turning in the first session of play?’ That meant it was a very good balance between bat and ball. And that is what you want to see. The ball in the end when Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins were bowling was being taken shoulder high by Paine tells you there is still a lot of life in this pitch and tomorrow morning it is not going to be easy for the Indian batsmen.
The ghosts of 36, no Kohli, no Shami
India got the first wicket very early. If Australia had got 60-60 for the loss of one wicket, then it would have been a completely different story because then they would have been thinking, ‘Oh, we are out of the game.’ By taking those three wickets in the first session, they gave themselves that belief back again. Look in cricket, it is so much a battle of between the ears and that battle is what the Indians won by taking those three wickets in the first session. Now, the batsmen have to put their hand up. The bowlers have done this the second time. They got the Indians the lead in the first Test and the batting was dismissed, thanks to great bowling, for 36 in the second innings. Now, tomorrow if the batsmen put their hand up and score lots of runs, this will be a team to watch out for.