India overcomes Australia resilience to record historic win

Australia lower-order batsmen added 104 runs for the last three wickets, making India work hard to complete the win after being reduced to 187 for seven.

Published : Dec 10, 2018 12:28 IST , Adelaide

India players celebrate the wicket of Shaun Marsh.
India players celebrate the wicket of Shaun Marsh.

India players celebrate the wicket of Shaun Marsh.

The cricket was tough, the tempo remained slow and the intensity stayed scalding hot. Burnished with patience, India progressed towards victory through measured steps. Australia resisted and its lower-order strung hope-sprouting partnerships: 41, 31, 41, 31 and 32.

But Virat Kohli’s men could not be denied their success. At 3.39 p.m. local time on the fifth and concluding day of the first Test, R. Ashwin dismissed Josh Hazlewood. The southpaw was tentative, the edge flew to K.L. Rahul at slip and Kohli punched the air. The Indians were ecstatic at the Adelaide Oval. They were like college buddies swapping bear-hugs while the historically-inclined picked stumps as souvenirs.

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Chasing 323, Australia was bowled out for 291 in its second innings. India won by 31 runs and leads the four-match series 1-0.

The home team never gave up but India found wickets at opportune moments. After lunch, off the first ball, host captain Tim Paine (41), until then a picture of zen-calmness, attempted to pull Jasprit Bumrah and skied a catch to Rishabh Pant. Incidentally, the wicket-keeper’s 11 catches in this contest, equalled the world record held by England’s Jack Russell and South African AB de Villiers.

India players celebrate the win in Adelaide after the last wicket fell.

Australia was 187 for seven but the tail fought. Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon (38 n.o.) and Hazlewood defended astutely and also stole their fours.Mohammed Shami dismissed Starc; Cummins (28, 121b, 3x4), sedate and steady, fell while attempting an ambitious drive off Bumrah; And Lyon slumped to the turf once Hazlewood fatally snicked. It was a soul-sapping match.        

Earlier, ‘Monday morning blues’ seemed an alien concept for senior citizens enjoying a round of golf close to the ground. At the venue, the fans, numbering 10868, were enthusiastic. The Aussies sought a miracle; the ‘Bharat Army’ wanted to serenade its team.

Resuming at 104 for four and needing an additional 219 to upset Kohli’s men, the Australian duo of Shaun Marsh and Travis Head were watchful. Ashwin opened the attack - wheeling away, probing; Ishant Sharma supported him from the other end - fast, getting the angles right and at times using the bouncer with a backward square-leg and a wide fine-leg in place. The ploy worked as a steep bouncer left Head in a tangle and Ajinkya Rahane caught the resultant lob at gully. It was the day’s eighth over and Australia was 115 for five.

The host, though, refused to crumble. Besides defending, Marsh (60, 166b, 5x4) cut, pulled and dabbed. Paine was forceful, the two ran hard and India’s fielding was a touch lethargic. Kohli wasn’t amused.

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Marsh pulled Ashwin for four to reach his 50 while Paine, on seven, top-edged a hook off Shami but Pant failed to latch on. Australia moved to 150 for five at the first drinks break. After that Bumrah angled in towards Marsh and just as the southpaw shaped to play, the ball nipped away, the batsman’s muscle-memory nudged him to move forward, the bat hung a wee-bit and that was enough for the edge to be tickled. Australia was 156 for six and the match was gradually moving into India’s pocket.      

Next man Cummins was given ‘out’ caught in the close-in cordon, to Ashwin. The tail-ender sought a review, the seconds ticked away, the players stared at the giant screen and in the press box, an Australian journalist mumbled: “Oh come on, let the game move on.” Cummins survived and at lunch, Australia was at 186 for six. ‘Glimmer of hope,’ a commentator said and Paine’s men nearly lived up to those words before the Indians pulled away.

The next Test starts at Optus Stadium in Perth on December 14 (Friday).

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