With the team missing skipper and arguably the best batsman Virat Kohli (paternity leave), Mohammed Shami being ruled out due to an injury, very few people gave Team India a chance of bouncing back in the series.
While someone like Michael Vaughan reiterated his prediction of a 0-4 loss for India, Shane Warne felt Australia will ‘blow away’ India.
But Ajinkya Rahane not only led his team from the front by scoring a fantastic match defining century, but also marshalled his resources so well on the field that the Aussies were defeated inside four days, as India levelled the four-match series 1-1.
Rahane led the Indian team brilliantly, showed flair with his field settings and made good bowling changes even though India lost Umesh Yadav to injury in the second innings.
Rahane in fact has a 100% captaincy record in Tests so far, having won all three Tests where he has been stand in captain.
Apart from Rahane’s batting and captaincy, the big talking points from the win at the MCG were the impressive performances of debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj, the way India bounced back after a historic low in Adelaide and the few concern areas that remain for India, like Mayank Agarwal‘s batting form.
TimesofIndia.com ran a poll asking cricket fans to vote for five different questions. These are the results of that poll:
The poll saw over 25,000 votes being cast in just over 24 hours.
The first question that was asked was: Will Ajinkya Rahane make a better Test captain than Virat Kohli? The options given here were – Yes, No and Too early to say.
There were 16170 responses for the yes option here from fans who feel that Rahane will make a better Test captain than Kohli. 1997 votes went to the No option, while 7662 votes were for the Too early to say option.
The majority of people who took the poll felt that Rahane could make a better captain, while the responses to say that it’s too early to say if Rahane would be better than Virat as Test captain were more than those for a flat out No.
The second question asked was – Should Rohit Sharma, if fully fit, replace Mayank Agarwal as opener? The options given here were Yes and No.
Mayank scored 17 and 9 in the first Test in Adelaide and registered a duck and 5 in the second Test at the MCG.
For this question, 21472 votes were polled in favour of Rohit replacing Mayank while 4336 votes were cast for the No option.
The third question asked was – Should India persist with Shubman Gill as a regular opener in Tests? There were three options given here – Yes, No and Too early to say.
Gill looked compact and confident in his first outing in Test cricket, scoring 45 in the first innings and remained not out in the second innings scoring 35 and taking India across the finish line, along with captain Rahane.
For this question 19825 votes were polled in favour of Gill being retained as opener long term, while 1111 votes were cast for the No option. Interestingly, 4858 votes were cast here for the Too early to say option. Clearly most cricket fans who took the poll feel that Gill should be looked at as a long term opener in Tests.
The fourth question asked was – Can India win the 4 Test series vs Australia? With the series level at 1-1 and two Tests left to play, it’s anyone’s series from here on. The options given here were Yes and No.
Buoyed by India’s magnificent performance at the MCG, 20973 votes were cast in the affirmative for this question, while only 4816 votes were polled for the No option. Clearly, the mood of the country is upbeat after India’s super show in Melbourne and most fans feel that Team India can pull off an encore of their historic series win on Australian soil in the 2018-19 series.
The fifth and last question that was asked was – Did you expect India to win the second Test after being dismissed for 36 in Adelaide? Once again the options given here were Yes and No.
The responses here were very interesting. There were 12287 votes that were polled for the Yes option by fans who felt India can bounce back hard and win after being dismissed for 36 in Adelaide. However, 13454 votes were cast for the No option. This showed that the fan base was clearly quite divided going into the Boxing Day Test and interestingly, the majority, albeit by a small margin felt that India will not be able win the second Test after the morale crushing loss in Adelaide.
Overall, the way the Indian team rose from the frustrating depths of Adelaide and emerged triumphant in Melbourne restored Indian cricket fans’ belief in the team and assured them that no matter what the odds, this Indian team will fight back, always.