The iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) witnessed one of the greatest cricketing comebacks. India became the third team in the past 50 years to stage a return from a 0-1 deficit in Australia to equalise. West Indies (1975-76) and New Zealand (2011-12) have done it, but none had their back against the wall as much as India did.
If spending four months in the challenging bio-bubble wasn’t mentally taxing enough, then add the scars of 36 to it. The worry-list didn’t end: Bowled out for a record low at Adelaide, captain Virat Kohli returning home, Rohit Sharma still unavailable, Mohammed Shami joining the injury list alongside Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Phew. Then India lost the toss at MCG. If all that wasn’t enough, Umesh Yadav breaks down in the middle of the Test.
Maybe sometimes the no-expectation tag and the back-against-the-wall situation works as a boon in disguise or as Ravichandran Ashwin says.
Ajinkya Rahane led India to a win that will be remembered and etched in the annals of history in gold.
Let’s sail through some interesting stat-facts from the MCG Test.
Nothing like MCG for India: India have now registered four wins at MCG, their most in any overseas venue. This is India’s fourth win at Melbourne. India have won three each at Kingston and Port of Spain.
Expectedly, only England, as visitors, have won more at MCG. England have 20 out of the 56 Tests they have played at this venue. England have won four out of their 14.
Debutants Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj: The last time two or more cricketers debuted for India in an overseas Test was in 2011. Abhinav Mukund, Praveen Kumar and Kohli made their debut in Kingston, West Indies.
The last time two Indian cricketers debuted in a Test was in 2013. Shami and Rohit got their Indian Test caps at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, against the visiting West Indies.
Lose the toss, win the Test: The last time India won a Test after losing the toss overseas was in Sri Lanka. India won the Colombo Test in 2010 courtesy a century from VVS Laxman. The last time India achieved this feat at SENA (South Africa, England, New Zealand or Australia) was in Adelaide 2003.
Steve Smith flops at MCG: Smith averaged 113.5 at MCG before this Test. Ashwin, once again, tricked him and removed the run monster for a duck in the first innings. It was his first duck at the venue in eight Tests and the first duck in Test cricket since the South Africa tour in 2016.
It’s also the first time he bagged a duck in the first innings of a Test. Smith’s average at MCG has now come down to 91.6.
Some smiles amid the Paine: Australian captain and wicketkeeper Tim Paine took a neat catch of Rishabh Pant to complete his 150th dismissal in Test cricket. Paine became the fastest wicketkeeper to the mark, reaching the feat in 33 Tests. He broke South Africa’s Quinton de Kock’s record, who took 34 Tests to the mark.
Starc’s 250: Pant’s wicket also gave Mitchell Starc is 250th Test wicket. He became the ninth Australian to the 250-club. Starc is now seven wickets short of Jason Gillespie’s tally of 259.
Pant in a unique club: Pant’ breezy 29 shifted the game’s momentum towards India. He became the fourth batsman to register eight consecutive 25+ scores in Australia after Wally Hammond, Rusi Surti and Viv Richards.
Rahane owns MCG: Rahane registered his 12th hundred in Test cricket. He’s now the only Indian with more than one century at the venue. Sachin Tendulkar (in 1999-2000) is the only other Indian captain with a hundred at this iconic venue.
Rahane also became the first non-English captain to score a hundred at MCG in a Test win. The last time a visiting captain scored a ton in a win at MCG was in 1998, and it was Alec Stewart.
Rahane, run outs and 2020: Till the end of 2019, Rahane was never involved in a run out in the 63 Tests he had played. Come 2020; he now has three in the four Tests that he has played. Having run out Pant at Wellington and Kohli at Adelaide, Rahane registered his first run out dismissal at Melbourne.
Rahane, the match-winner: Nine out of Rahane’s 12 hundreds have come in a winning cause. The other three have come in a draw. None of his centuries have come in a losing cause.
Siraj impresses: Siraj registered the second-best match figures by an Indian debutant in Australia. Siraj claimed five wickets in the match, Syed Abid Ali had claimed seven in Adelaide in 1967. In fact, Siraj’s 5 for 77 is the second-best match figures for any debutant in Australia in the past 50 years. Lasith Malinga is at the top spot with 6 for 92.
Overall, Siraj match-figures is the fifth-best by a debutant Indian pacer overseas.
Australia’s batting woes: Australia’s batting has let them down in the series. The Australian players registered not a single individual 50+ score in this Test. The last time Australian batters failed to reach the fifty mark in a Test was in the 1988 MCG Test against West Indies.
First defeat for Smith-Cummins combo at home: Australia’s recent rise to dominance in Test cricket can be attributed to the successes of Smith and Pat Cummins, the ranked no.1 Test batsman and bowler respectively. The MCG Test marks the first time Australia losing at home with both of them playing in the XI. Before this Test, they had featured together in 10 wins and one draw from 11 Tests.