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India show Australia how it is done in Melbourne

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Roar Guru
31st December, 2018

With their two test wins, India have now won twice as many tests in this series than Pakistan and Sri Lanka combined have won in Australia in the last 30 years.

Can they break the long-standing subcontinent drought in Australia?

When Rishabh Pant caught the defiant Pat Cummins to end the Melbourne test, India did something no subcontinent team had ever done in Australia: take a lead into the final test of a series in Australia. Now, as both teams head to Sydney for a New Year’s drink and a final test match, there is one thing left for them to do – win a series down under.

The third test in Melbourne was dominated by India. In what proved to be a good toss to win on a slow pitch, India did all things right.

Their openers got into the grind of the test match. On paper, Hanuma Vihari’s 8 off 66 balls may look like a battle and a failure, but the reality was he provided cover for his stronger middle order batsmen. It allowed Cheteshwar Pujara and later on Virat Kohli to come in against an attack that had been bowling in hot weather with a softer ball in their hands.

It would allow India’s premier batsmen to flourish.

Earlier newcomer Mayank Awarwal had been more fluent and made an excellent start to his test career. India have been searching for an opener to do the job for them throughout 2018 and they had to wait till Christmas to get one, but it was a present they were happy to take given the series score.

Australia’s two hopes once India had posted a score just shy of 450 was for the pitch to stay together and for them to also get into the grind. One they could control, and one they couldn’t. For the pitch’s part, it did start to stay low as the test progressed, but really couldn’t be blamed for Australia’s inept batting.

Their openers were both set up and both took the bait. If Aaron Finch and Marcus Harris want to ever be test cricketers, they will need to see the fishing hook and not just take what looks like a good offering. Rarely do plans come off with such little work for it. In falling to clearly laid traps, they exposed their middle order, something the Indian openers did not do.

Aaron Finch

(Photo by Daniel Kalisz – CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images)

Wickets came and went at a steady rate. The innings virtually over when Jasprit Bumrah produced a beautiful slower ball just on lunch to remove Shaun Marsh. Australia were all out by tea, and Bumrah had taken 6/33 with some brilliant bowling.

Kohli’s decision to give his bowlers a break had some risk about it. He could have kept the foot on the accelerator and with Australia down and out, the test would have most likely finished on day four. He took the chance though, which ultimately proved successful.

Neither a second innings Australian fightback or the forecast rain really came with any great threat. Both showed signs of being present, with Pat Cummins’ excellent fight with the bat and showers on the fifth morning, but neither got Australia close to a draw.

It’s not the first time India has won two tests in Australia. In 1977-78 they won two tests but lost the series 3-2. However, it is the first time they will go into the final test down under where they could not lose the series. They won’t want to walk away from Sydney with a loss.

After test series losses in South Africa and England in 2018, this will be a type of redemption if they can leave Sydney with a 2-1 or 3-1 series win.

Virat Kohli is already a hero in India, but leading his team to a series win down under will be remembered forever in cricket history.

You can bet your bottom dollar that he wants this, as does his team.