Ajinkya Rahane surprised a lot of people including former India and Australia cricketers when he did not give the ball to debutant seamer Mohammed Siraj in the first session of the Boxing Day Test at MCG against Australia and instead operated with spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja from both ends towards the end of the morning session.
After Rahane’s move paid rich dividends to India with Ashwin striking twice before lunch, including the wicket of the dangerous Steve Smith, Ravindra Jadeja explained the rationale behind the India stand-in captain’s decision.
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Jadeja said he wasn’t expecting to be introduced into the attack that early on Day 1 as India were playing three seamers and Ashwin was already operating from one end but Rahane threw him the ball after seeing the purchase on offer for Ashwin.
“Bowlers were spot on (on Day 1), they were getting wickets in every interval. The wicket was damp, the ball was turning so (Ajinkya) Rahane threw the ball told me to get ready and bowl a few overs before lunch,” said Jadeja on the pre-match show on Sony Sports Network ahead of the second day’s play.
India got three wickets in the first session and two of them were to Ashwin. While Jadeja did not get a wicket but he kept the pressure on from the other end.
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Rahane sprang in another surprise when he started with debutant Siraj after lunch. The tall Hyderabad pacer did not start well but came back strong in his second spell, removing Marnus Labuschagne and Cameron Green to hand India the advantage even on the second session.
India bowled Australia out for 195 despite losing the toss. Jasprit Bumrah ended with four wickets, and Ashwin sneered three.
However, A two-wicket burst by paceman Pat Cummins in the morning rallied Australia and left India vulnerable at 90 for three at lunch on day two.
Cummins denied debutant Shubman Gill a half-century and also dismissed India’s number three Cheteshwar Pujara for 17 in a fiery five-ball burst in the middle of the session on a muggy Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
It was left to stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane, 10 not out, and Hanuma Vihari (13 not out) to steady India.