Five things we witnessed in the Melbourne Test between Australia and India
Australia were definitely the better and the happier team in the end of a grueling Test match in Melbourne, and getting back the Border Gavaskar trophy back home would be a sense of huge satisfaction.
Being 2-0 up in the Test series, the hosts were in top gear once again in Melbourne. But a gritty batting display by from Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane in India's first innings ensured a draw. Aussies have sealed the series after India were left in no position to sniff a chance of a Test match chase.
The batting track ensured plenty of runs for both teams in the first innings and Australia's decision to give India just 70 overs to chase down a target of 384 runs ensured an advantage for the hosts who went in the defensive to rule out any slim chance for the visitors.
Both teams will pick out positives from the draw after an engrossing five-day Test match.
Here are five things we witnessed in the Melbourne Test:
Virat Kohli-Mitchell Johnson battle was engaging: Virat Kohli was the star of this Indian batting line-up once again after the Adelaide Test and showed why he could emulate the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid in getting Test runs abroad. Kohli batted like a gem in the first innings and along with Ajinkya Rahane, was involved in one of the finest partnerships in quite some time.
Kohli's new found aggression against Mitchell Johnson was a scenario that lasted the entire Test match. After being hit by Johnson by an unnecessary throw off his own bowling, Kohli stood tall against the pacer. He survived an initial phase where he was troubled, but since then, mastered Johnson with ease.
The way he played against Johnson and his positive approach towards the pacer, was a fitting festive season gift for the spectators.
Yet, it was Johnson who picked Kohli's wicket in the final over of the third day to hand Australia a much-needed edge. Their on-field aggression continued with verbal spats, taunts and moments where umpires had to talk to Kohli after Johnson's complaints. Kohli's attack on Johnson in the press conferences was unnecessary, yet the aggression both had towards each other was notable.
Kohli played valiantly in the second innings too and helped India limp towards a draw.
Lokesh Rahul misses brilliant oppurtunity: The 22-year-old Karnataka batsman must be in a tough mental state after failing to make anything worth with his chance in the MCG Test. Rahul, who made his debut for India was selected ahead of a woeful Rohit Sharma. With Suresh Raina and Naman Ojha on the bench, there is a big fight for that No. 6 batting position and Rahul failed to showcase his patience in a good situation for the hosts, and help his cause in order to impress one and all.
The youngster came in to the crease waiting in the dressing room for a long time after a mammoth partnership between Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli and a few deliveries later, he went back to the pavilion which led to another Indian collapse soon after that.
Rahul was given a big let off by Peter Siddle, who missed a catch off Nathan Lyon's bowling, and a ball later, he tried to hit a big shot against the rough and threw his wicket away so tamely.
The top-order batsman was introduced in the first down in India's second innings and once again played a rash shot to depart cheaply. Scores of 3 and 1 in his debut and gifting his wicket in vital time of a Test match, exposed a deepened rawness in Rahul (,) who needs more time to be drafted into the squad. Rahul's situation remains quite dicey now for the Sydney Test and he will hope to get another chance to showcase why he was selected ahead of many India hopefuls for the tour.
Shikhar Dhawan is hanging by the thread: The problem for Shikhar Dhawan has intensified and despite being a good bet for the shorter version of the game, his Test future looks problematic. India's opening woes have hurt the team's chances of doing well in overseas conditions since quite some time. Dhawan has failed abroad by a big margin and just while his partner Murali Vijay has grown to high stature since quite a while, the Delhi lad has looked awful.
The southpaw was out to Ryan Harris in both innings in Melbourne and his problems outside the off stump continued. Scores of 28 and 0 did little justice to Dhawan who is likely to face the axe pretty soon and that will open chances for the likes of Robin Uthappa and even Lokesh Rahul to grab the slot.
Dhawan struggled in the summer in India's tour of England where he was dropped after three Tests and India outcast Gautam Gambhir was given a chance once again. But Gambhir digged nails in his own coffin after faring poorly. Dhawan has been given plenty of chances and the time is getting by rather too soon. Apart from a decent 81 in Brisbane, Dhawan has looked out of patience and application to be a natural Test player. His manner of dismissals in both innings was a similar story.
Steve Smith continues in masterly fashion: Steve Smith was brilliant for the hosts here in Melbourne once again and just like in Adelaide and Brisbane, he got his bat to do the talking. Smith carried on as a batsman just from where he had left off in the first two Tests. His classy knock of 192 in the first innings gave Aussies a much-needed boost and platform to dictate proceedings in Melbourne.
Smith was a master of sorts and at a young age has finally come off as a complete batsman who is positive, dangerous and classy to watch as he notched up a third ton in the series. His effortless batting and handling the situation with the tail once again was the key moment in the game as the Aussies posted a huge total of 530 in the first innings, to put India on the back-foot.
Smith handled the responsibility of a leader to a great extent once again. After taking over the reins in the last Test from the unfortunate Clarke, Smith showed his skill as a leader, by making important changes and was instrumental in giving the hosts a chance of winning the game.
Smith looks a natural leader who is aggressive, patient and busy. For Australian cricket that is a sign of strength. Smith completed 2000 Test runs in a calendar year and that showed how much he has contributed towards Australia's success.
Ryan Harris is Australia's best bet: Ryan Harris has been one of Australia's most consistent bowlers in recent times and with age, the pacer is growing in confidence. His six wickets in the match in crucial moments helped Australia gain momentum. Harris, who missed the Brisbane Test, was a delight to watch after he got the wicket of Shikhar Dhawan in both innings of the Test match.
The wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara in the first innings was sublime and Harris then got himself into the scheme of things playing a major role in India's collapse after Rahane got out.
In Australia's bowling in second innings, Harris was instrumental in setting a mode of discomfort for the visitors. Another important aspect of his bowling was he kept things tight from one end by giving away. If Harris, the bowler was at his best, then Harris the batsman was also a treat to watch. His vital innings of 74 in the first innings allowed Smith to bat freely and he toyed effortlessly with the ordinary Indian bowlers. That helped Australia's cause and Harris came out as the best player in the MCG Test.
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