India stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane praised his players after an injury-plagued Indian cricket team showed grit and character to make a stunning comeback at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) and level the four-match Test series 1-1 on Tuesday.
Chasing a modest target of 70 runs after bowling out Australia for 200 in their second innings, the visitors wrapped up the match with eight wickets in hand on Day 4.
The manner of their victory, however, showed that the visitors had buried the ghost of the Adelaide Test match, where the Virat Kohli-led side was bundled for their lowest ever Test score of 36 runs.
“It would've been easy for us to get bogged down thinking about Adelaide, but we decided to not do that. We wanted to come in with intent and attitude,” Rahane said in the post-match presentation.
“The talk was all about showing attitude, intent and character. One hour took the game away from us in Adelaide, but we still have a lot to learn. Australia applied themselves in the second innings, the last five wickets,” the Indian captain added.
Team India had arrived at the Boxing Day Test match without their talisman Kohli and pace spearhead Mohammed Shami, and they were jolted by a mid-game injury of fast bowler Umesh Yadav who had to leave the field instantly.
However, the relatively inexperienced Indian side, which had as many as two debutants in the starting eleven, looked fearless in their execution. While Gill scored 45 and 35* in the second Test, Siraj scalped five wickets in the match.
Rahane praised the team’s debutants following the memorable win at the MCG.
"I’m really proud of all the players, credit to our debutants Gill and Siraj. The way they showed character was amazing. Shubman has done well in first-class cricket, showed intent and composure. Siraj bowled with a lot of discipline.
“Sometimes as debutants, you can get carried away, but guys who play first-class cricket for four-five years know what to do, it makes a captain's job easier,” he added.
India’s stand-in skipper Rahane was adjudged the Man of the Match in the Boxing Day Test for his scintillating knock of 112 in the first innings and a composed unbeaten 27 runs in the second to take the visitors over the line.
Meanwhile, Team India’s job gets tougher going forward from here on. While their bowling options have been reduced to the bone, the visitors will be welcoming stalwart Rohit Sharma for the remaining two Test matches.
Rahane further stated that: “Umesh is recovering well, we're excited about Rohit coming back. I spoke to him yesterday and he's really excited about coming back.”
India will next face Australia in the third Test match in Sydney scheduled to start from January 7.