It was a good day for India in the Boxing Day Test despite a shoddy start as the stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane led from the front with an unbeaten 104 to give India a lead of 82 runs at the end of Day 2. Ravindra Jadeja with 40* provided ample support to the skipper to take India’s first innings total to 277/5 when rains forced abrupt closure of play at MCG on Sunday.
Rahane was in sublime form today reaching both his century and half-century with boundaries. He showed tremendous patience to hang in there and attack the bowlers whenever he got a loose delivery. He, however, survived a scare just before Stumps as Travis Head popped one out of his hands while landing on his elbows.
At the start of the day, Shubman Gill (45) had a stroke of beginner’s luck yet again before falling to a thick edge to Tim Paine. Lack of foot movement did him in as Pat Cummins pitched one fuller right outside the off.
The other overnight batsman, Cheteshwar Pujara soon fell to Cummins too - an outside edge travelling to the safe hands of Paine, who did pretty well to dive and latch onto it.
By Lunch, India were 65/3 and things didn’t look much promising. However, Rahane changed the face of the match with three consecutive partnerships with Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja. While with Vihari he stitched a 52-run stand, with Pant it was 57 runs and with Jadeja it has now been 104* runs.
Vihari (21) showed some grit early on but got out while playing a sweep shot off Nathan Lyon. A complete misjudgement of the line took him by surprise as the ball kissed the gloves before travelling to Steve Smith. Pant (29), too, looked sturdy in the middle, stabilising the innings along with the Skipper for quite some time before falling prey to Mitchell Starc as his 250th scalp in Test cricket.
We will now have to see what Day 3 has in store for us. We still have plenty of time in hand and India will certainly look to take the lead beyond 200 runs to ensure a favourable outcome in the end.