Both the sides had won one Test apiece before the Australia-India series moved to the 3rd Test. The iconic MCG hosted the Boxing Day Test. Australia had the momentum after their resounding victory in Perth. But India made a terrific comeback to take the lead again. They won handsomely and as a result, retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
The surface at the MCG looked dry initially which drove Virat Kohli to choose to bat first after winning the toss. India had 2 new faces for the opening pair. The drafted-in player Mayank Agarwal found a place in the XI straightaway. He had Hanuma Vihari for a company who was serving as a makeshift opener.
The duo batted brilliantly against the new ball. Although Vihari scored just 8 yet he faced 66 balls that meant the ball had become soft when the middle-order arrived. Agarwal was fluent while Cheteshwar Pujara went about his business in his own demeanor. The debutant went on to score 76 and India was 123/2 when he got out.
Kohli and Pujara formed a superb partnership of 170 that put India into a commanding position. Pujara made his second hundred of the series while Kohli scored 82. Ajinkya Rahane and Rishabh Pant made valuable thirties while Rohit Sharma scored an unbeaten 63. Just on the on the brink of stumps on day 2, India declared at 443/7.
The Australian openers survived the tricky little period of 7 overs on day 2. But they couldn’t last long on day 3. After Ishant Sharma removed Aaron Finch for 8, there was very little that the next few offered. They lost wickets consistently and India was well and truly in the driver’s seat.
Jasprit Bumrah came into his own and delivered one of the finest spells ever by an Indian pacer. He was fiery and sensible in his approach. There was absolutely no stopping him as he bagged 6 wickets for 33 runs. Australia bundled out for 151 that gave India a massive lead of 292 runs.
Contrary to the expectations, India decided to bat again rather than enforcing the follow-on. The Indian batsmen were reckless in their approach. Pat Cummins bowled a wonderful spell and gave the opposition a reality check. India lost 5 wickets by the end of day 3 with just 54 runs on the board. Kohli and Pujara failed to open their accounts while Rahane could score a solitary run.
On day 4, Agarwal and Pant were the overnight batsmen. They began to open their shoulders in the bid to score some quick runs. But the duo, as well as Ravindra Jadeja, fell soon. India reached 106/8 and that’s when Kohli decided to declare. India had gained a huge lead of 398 runs. However, Pat Cummins was the bright spot for the hosts who took 6 wickets for 27.
Chasing 399 to win, the hosts were put under pressure immediately. Bumrah, the wrecker-in-chief, removed Finch early in just the 2nd over. Ravindra Jadeja sent back Marcus Harris for 13 in the 10th over. Mohammed Shami trapped Usman Khawaja in front while Bumrah did the same to Shaun Marsh. Jadeja accounted for the younger Marsh and the slide was on.
Travis Head and Tim Paine also departed that almost confirmed India’s win at MCG. But Cummins wasn’t willing to give up easily. Along with Nathan Lyon, he dragged the game to the last day despite the extra half hour grabbed by India. The hosts still needed 141 runs to win on day 5 with just 2 wickets in hand. However, they had a hope to save the Test with the possibility of rain on the last day.
The rain gods did intervene as the first session was washed out. But rain relented and the game resumed after lunch. Bumrah didn’t take long to dismiss Cummins who scored a valiant 63. Ishant then bounced out Lyon to script a historic Boxing Day MCG Test victory. The visitors won by 137 runs to go 2-1 up with one more Test to go at the SCG.
India won the toss and opted to bat first
India 1st innings: 443/7 declared in 169.4 overs
Cheteshwar Pujara 106 (319), Virat Kohli 82 (204)
Pat Cummins 72/3 (34), Mitchell Starc 87/2 (28)
Australia 1st innings: 151/10 in 66.5 overs
Marcus Harris 22 (35), Tim Paine 22 (85)
Jasprit Bumrah 33/6 (15.5), Ravindra Jadeja 45/2 (25)
India 2nd innings: 106/8 declared in 37.3 overs
Mayank Agarwal 42 (104), Rishabh Pant 33 (43)
Pat Cummins 27/6 (11), Josh Hazlewood 22/2 (10.3)
Australia 2nd innings: 261/10 in 89.3 overs
Pat Cummins 63 (114), Shaun Marsh 44 (72)
Jasprit Bumrah 53/3 (19), Ravindra Jadeja 82/3 (32)
India won by 137 runs
Player of the Match: Jasprit Bumrah
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