Shubman Gill, Mohammed Siraj showed character, says skipper Ajinkya Rahane as India beat Australia by 8 wickets at MCG

Melbourne: Team India skipper Ajinkya Rahane on Tuesday praised the debutants – opener Shubman Gill and fast bowler Mohammed Siraj – following the eight-wicket win over Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday that helped the tourists level the four-Test series 1-1.

“Really proud of all the players. Played really well. Want to give credit to the debutants Siraj and Gill, the character they showed after the Adelaide loss was great to see. Character was important for us, especially after losing Umesh in the second innings,” said Rahane, who is standing in as captain for regular skipper Virat Kohli.

Rahane, who scored a brilliant century in the first innings to lead India`s revival after they were reduced to 116/4, said going in with five bowlers worked well.

“That (five-bowler plan) worked well for us nicely. We were thinking of having an all-rounder and Jadeja has been brilliant for us. Shubman, we all know his first-class career and, in this game, he has shown the intent to play shots at this level. Showed composure. Siraj has shown that he can bowl with discipline. It is really difficult for debutants to bowl with discipline but that`s where I think the first-class experience comes in handy,” added Rahane.

The 32-year-old, who is batting at No. 4 in the series after the departure of Virat Kohli said, “The talk was all about showing the attitude and intent on the field. As I said, character. Adelaide was about one hour that took the game away from us. Lots to learn for even now. Australia applied themselves with their last five wickets. Umesh is recovering well, management and medical staff will take the call. We`re excited about Rohit coming back. Spoke to him yesterday, he`s waiting to join the team.”

A rejuvenated India shorn of Virat Kohli turned the tables on Australia to claim the second test in Melbourne with a rousing eight-wicket victory within four days and breathe life into the series. Needing only 70 runs for victory after bowling Australia out for 200 by lunch, opener Shubman Gill (35 not out) and stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane (27 not out) guided India home to square the series at 1-1 ahead of the third test.

Having bowled India out for 36 in the crushing eight-wicket win in Adelaide, Australia`s pacemen steamed in with their usual vigour but were repelled by a belligerent Gill, who enjoyed a fine debut as test opener.

The match belonged to Rahane, however, who took over the captaincy after Adelaide when regular skipper Kohli returned to India for the birth of his first child. Named man of the match, Rahane marshalled a rejigged side superbly, and fittingly struck the winning run off spinner Nathan Lyon before tea, sending Indian fans into raptures in the crowd of 13,000.

Two years after smashing a depleted Australia by 137 runs in the Boxing Day test, India`s bowlers again had the measure of their opponents on the MCG`s drop-in wicket.

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Sagar Biswas

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