India pulled off one of their greatest Test wins, chasing down Australia’s fourth-innings target of 70 to secure victory by eight wickets at the MCG.
The tourists responded from a horror start to the Border-Gavaskar series when they were skittled for a record-low of 36 in Adelaide 10 days ago.
Even without star captain Virat Kohli, India levelled the series at one-all to become the first touring side to win consecutive Boxing Day Tests in Melbourne since England in 1982 and 1986.
Australia’s lower-order, spearheaded by young allrounder Cameron Green, added 67 runs in the first session on day four after resuming on 133-6 to be all out for 200.
India suffered some anxious moments in the tiny chase, falling to 19-2, but rookie opener Shubman Gill (35 not out) and stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane (27 not out) guided them home in the 16th over.
Led superbly by Rahane, who made a courageous 112 in the first innings, India controlled the contest from day one when they rolled Australia for 195.
While Rahane’s 12th Test century – which Indian legend Sunil Gavaskar hailed as one of the most important innings in the country’s history – was vital, it was the bowlers who set the game up.
Australia’s batting problems were exposed by a disciplined Indian bowling unit that never allowed the batsmen to settle. It was the first time since 1988 Australia have had a home Test without any batsman posting a half-century – Marnus Labuschagne’s first innings 48 was the hosts’ top-score.
India could have slumped when veteran quick Umesh Yadav hobbled off with a lower-leg injury, shortly after dismissing out-of-form opener Joe Burns for four to follow the Australian’s first-innings duck.
But Jasprit Bumrah and pace debutant Mohammed Siraj stepped up with spinners Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to never relent against the brittle Australian top-order. The load was shared between the front-line attack in both innings, with Bumrah (six wickets), Ashwin (five) and Siraj (five) dominating.
India could be given an extra boost with speculation abounding the next Test will be held at the MCG, instead of the SCG, due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Sydney’s northern beaches. Their only concern will be finding a replacement fast bowler if Yadav is ruled out of the next match.
But Australia have plenty of soul-searching to do after losing their first Test on home soil since the corresponding match in 2018. Justin Langer’s team went undefeated last summer with clean sweeps against Pakistan (2-0) and New Zealand (3-0).
Burns’ poor run will almost certainly see him dropped, particularly with David Warner set to return from injury. But it wasn’t just the batting which cost Australia, with abysmal fielding in the first-innings allowing India to reach 326.