Bangalore, Mar. 7: India put in one of their best bowling performances under pressure in recent times to defend a total of 188 in the second India v Australia Test at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore on Day 4, beating Australia by 75 runs. They thus brushed aside the harrowing Pune defeat and brought 1-1 parity in the four-match series. At the forefront of the Indian victory on day four was a certain Ravichandran Ashwin who picked up six for 41, en route to becoming India's fifth most successful Test bowler.
Then again, in a match that had more twists and turns than a roller coaster, to pick out one player for the victory will be just unfair. India were behind the eight-ball after they were shot down for 189 on day one and after Australia batsmen had applied themselves well on a testing pitch to take a vital lead, Ravindra Jadeja (6/63) found his mark and restricted the lead to just 87. Then Cheteshwar Pujara (92) and Ajinkya Rahane's (52) valiant, might as well add a match-turning, 118-run stand for the fifth wicket edged India ahead. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav stepped up with a probing spell on the penultimate day that put Australia under pressure. And the importance of KL Rahul's twin fifties (90 & 51), on a track everyone else struggled, cannot be undermined as well.
On paper a target of 188 would have been an easy one but with the way the Chinnaswamy track was behaving, and helped by the 16-run partnership that Wriddhiman Saha and Ishant shared for the last wicket after Mtichell Starc and Josh Hazlewood orchestrated a carnage with the new ball in the first session, India seemed to have the better chance at winning the match. India bowled with venom and with the pitch offering all sort of assistance; they scalped six Australian wickets including that of the captain Steve Smith by tea. Australia resisted for a while in the final session but could only prolong the inevitable as they were bowled out for 112 in the second innings.
What Rahane and Pujara did with their century stand, majority of which came on day three, was to hand Indian bowlers something to bowl at. Despite losing five wickets for just 23 runs on the fourth day, Saha (20) ensured India's lead was within the range that would have Australia under the pump. David Warner and Matt Renshaw started in a cautious manner and while Ashwin managed to extract alarming turn and bounce, Warner and Renshaw nudged the ball around to add 22 for the opening wicket. In the opening burst, Ishant Sharma bowled like a man possessed. He hit the right length and the ball, after hitting the cracks moved at such angles that both Australian batsmen were squared up many times. Renshaw edged one such delivery that hit the crack and moved away late and Saha obliged behind the stumps.
Warner danced down the track to Ashwin, hoisting the offspinner for a six over long-off. A risky shot, but Warner had made his intentions clear. But in the next over from Ashwin, Warner went for a sweep off a fuller delivery that had pitched outside off, but was trapped in front. On Smith's suggestion Warner went for the review and despite the ball pitching outside the line of impact, the DRS showed it hitting in line and the impact on stumps as umpire's call, meaning, on-field umpire's decision stood and Warner departed for 17.
Smith was the key man for Australia and aided by his unorthodox playing style, he survived. Similar to first innings, India upped the ante and tried to get under the skipper's skin. Playing way ahead of the crease to negate the movement off the track and with a crouched stance, Smith put bat to ball en route to his 28 off 48 balls. Shaun Marsh, the first innings half-centurion, gave Smith good company until Umesh Yadav had him leg before wicket. Similar to Ishant, Umesh too got purchase off the track. One such delivery, bowled over the wicket with an angle, jagged back in as Marsh offered no shot. Umpire Nigel Llong did not waste much time to give that out and the Australian pair failed to gauge that the ball would have missed the stumps by a big margin had they opted for a review. Marsh perished for nine.
The low bounce led to the downfall of Australian skipper for 28, as he completely missed a short of length delivery from Umesh that did not rise at all and he was left fishing for nothing. But what made it more interesting was Smith signalling towards pavilion probably for an advice on the usage of the DRS and that had Indian captain Virat Kohli fuming. Umpire Llong also spotted that gesture and outrightly denied Smith a review and as Smith walked back Chinnaswamy roared back to life and India were in control of the Test match for the first time.
The tide had turned, and despite Peter Handscomb cracking a lovely cover drive for four, it seemed India were heading towards a win. Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade departed in the space of three overs with both the wickets going to Ashwin. In the third session Ashwin polished off the tail with three wickets while Jadeja scalp of Steve O' Keefe.
Brief Scores : India 189 & 274 beat Australia 276 & 112 (Smith 28; Ashwin 6/41) by 75 runs (TOI)
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