In his column for the Times of India, Laxman wrote, “The Indian team completed one of its sweetest Test wins at its favourite hunting ground in Australia, the MCG. After the humiliation of being shot out for their lowest Test score in Adelaide, they could have been seized by self-doubt and a crisis in confidence. Credit is due to Ravi Shastri and the support staff for putting 36 all out in the first Test in perspective and ensuring the team was in the right mind-space.”
Laxman lauded captain Ajinkya Rahane who led the side in a brilliant fashion on the field, was impressive with his bowling changes and also showed flair with his field settings.
“The first steps towards victory were taken on Day One when, after losing the toss, India’s brilliant bowlers knocked the hosts over for 195. Standing in for Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane marshalled his resources astutely, setting unorthodox fields and reaping rewards once the bowlers executed their plans impeccably, best exemplified by Marnus Labuschagne being caught at leg gully off Siraj. The Australian batting stood exposed, as did their overdependence on Steve Smith,” Laxman added.
When Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed Steve Smith in the Boxing Day Test, it was the second successive time that the Aussie batsman fell to the Indian off-spinner in this series and Laxman marked him out for special praise.
“R Ashwin seems to have the measure of Smith at the moment and backed up his performance in Adelaide with another lovely display of off-spin in Melbourne. It’s the best I have seen Ashwin bowl overseas, and that’s saying something given the peaks he has scaled,” Laxman opined.
Laxman also praised debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj. Gill looked assured in his first outing in Test cricket scoring 45 in the first innings and remained not out in the second innings scoring 35. Siraj followed up his 2/40 in his first innings with 3/37 in the second essay.
“I was heartened by the approach as well as the performances of debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj. They were not overawed by the stage and fitted in perfectly, which shows how well prepared and ready they were to perform at the highest level. It also reiterates India’s burgeoning bench strength; even without their best batsman and their most experienced pacer on tour, Mohammed Shami, not to mention the absence of Ishant and Rohit Sharma, India didn’t appear seriously handicapped,” Laxman wrote.
But Laxman also pointed out the failures of Mayank Agarwal (0 and 5) and Cheteshwar Pujara (17 and 3) in the Test.
“If there was one disappointment, it was that Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara failed in both innings, but Rahane more than made up with one of his most significant knocks. Like at Lord’s in 2014 when he set up the victory, he was aggressive and showed a lot of intent, which is when he is at his most effective. His statements of positivity rubbed off on Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja, propelling India to the only 300-plus total so far,” Laxman added.
Laxman also expressed his surprise at Australia’s batting approach. In three completed Australian innings in the first two Tests, the Indian bowlers bundled the hosts out for 191, 195 and 200 respectively,
“Australia’s approach in the second innings too baffled me. India was a bowler light with Umesh Yadav limping off, but a team that once scored at four runs an over struggled for even half that run-rate. Again, that is a tribute to the tremendous quality India projected as a bowling group, every cog functioning at heightened efficiency to compensate for Umesh Yadav’s injury. India must celebrate this win with gusto,” Laxman signed off.