India vs Australia: Ashwin Stars With the Ball As Hosts Level Series With 75-run Win

R Ashwin celebrates the fall of the last Australian wicket (AP Photo)R Ashwin celebrates the fall of the last Australian wicket (AP Photo)

R Ashwin celebrates the fall of the last Australian wicket (AP Photo)

Bengaluru: India pulled off a sensational 75-run victory on the fourth evening of the second Test in Bengaluru to draw level in the four-match Test series against Australia. India’s bowlers put in a lion-hearted performance to defend a modest target of 188 runs to showcase their credentials as the world’s top Test playing nation. Ravichandran Ashwin was the star with the ball, picking up 6 wickets in the second innings, his 25th 5-wicket haul in Tests, as he helped the hosts to record a memorable comeback win.

The fourth day started with the overnight batsmen Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane looking to continue their good work as India resumed their second innings on 213/4, leading Australia by 126 runs.

But the pace duo of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood ripped the heart out of India’s middle and lower order soon. The pair of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane continued the good work done by them on the third evening, with Rahane bringing up his half century, as the hosts moved on from their overnight score of 213/4.

But the match turned the moment Australia took the second new ball. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood bowled five probing overs which had Rahane and Pujara in all sorts of trouble. And then Starc pitched one up which Rahane missed completely and the Australians went up. The appeal was turned down by the on-field umpire but Steven Smith was quick to call for a review.


The review showed the ball had pitched in line and was going to hit the stumps. The decision was overturned and Rahane had to walk back for 52, leaving India at 238/5.

Starc sent shivers through the Indian dressing room as he removed the last recognised batsman Karun Nair of the very next delivery for a golden duck. Starc pitch it up with menacing pace and swing and Nair played an expansive drive, missing the ball completely, his inexperience coming to the fore.

Starc was on a hat-trick and bowled another in-swinging delivery, but Wriddhiman Saha managed to keep that out.

But the biggest blow to India was dealt in the next over as Josh Hazlewood removed the well set Cheteshwar Pujara for 92. The medium pacer bowled it short and the ball hit one of the cracks to jump up from length and caught the shoulder of Pujara’s bat. The ball went straight to Mitchell Marsh at gully, India were now down to 242/7, leading Australia by a mere 155 runs.

Ravichandran Ashwin was the next man in and he got a boundary away of the second ball he faced. But the Indian all-rounder was foxed on the very next ball. Hazlewood bowled a regular delivery on the off-stump which didn’t rise above the level of Ashwin’s boots and crashed straight into the off-stump. India were now looking down the barrel at 246/8.

Umesh Yadav then gifted his wicket away, looking to go for some quick runs and India were 258/9. Last man Ishant Sharma showed some presence of mind as he hung around to allow Wriddhiman Saha to have a go at the bowling. The last pair put on 16 more runs until Ishant Sharma departed for 6, looking to play a drive off Steve O’Keefe and was caught at covers. India were bowled out for 274 in the second innings, setting Australia a target of 188 runs to win the match.

Josh Hazlewood was the stand-out performer for Australia in the second innings as he picked up 6 crucial wickets to restrict the Indian total.

India needed quick wickets to stay in the game and it was Ishant Sharma who provided the first breakthrough. Matt Renshaw was the first Australian batsman to depart, caught behind by Wriddhiman Saha for 5 after Ishant Sharma managed to induce an edge by bowling in the channel outside the off-stump. Skipper Steven Smith joined David Warner in the middle and Australia’s most experienced duo showed some pragmatism as they started a counter-attack.

But the 20-run stand was nipped in the bud when Warner was struck on the pad looking to sweep a well-flighted delivery from Ravichandran Ashwin. The Indians appealed and umpire Richard Illingworth raised the finger. The Australians reviewed the decision but the replays showed ‘umpire’s call’ for both the pitching of the ball and for impact on wickets. Warner departed for 17 as the Aussies were now two wickets down for 42 runs.

ALSO READ: Warner Dismissal Allows Cricket Australia to Create BCCI-Like Debate

Shaun Marsh joined Smith in the middle and looked in pristine touch as he played a couple of flowing cover drives to calm the nerves in the Australian dressing room. But with the score on 67, Marsh shouldered arms to an incoming delivery from Umesh Yadav from around the wicket. The ball crashed into Marsh’s pads and the Indians went up in appeal for an LBW in unison.

Marsh and captain Smith had a long discussion about whether to go for a review eventually deciding against it. Australia were now down to 67/3. Replays though showed that the ball would have missed the stumps. India had got a lucky break.

ALSO READ: Oh Dear Steve Smith, You Let Shaun Marsh Get Out!

Umesh Yadav was in the thick of the things again as he got the biggest and the most precious wicket next. He bowled a straight delivery targetting Steven Smith’s stumps, the ball didn’t bounce much and crashed into Smith’s pads and the Australian captain was given out LBW for 28.

Controversy ensued as Smith was seen waiting in the middle looking some instructions coming in from the dressing room, as Australia still had a review pending. This enraged the Indians and captain Virat Kohli protested in an animated fashion, mouthing a few profanities. Umpire Nigel Llong intervened soon and asked Smith to walk back to the pavillion. Australia were four wickets down for 74 runs.

ALSO READ: BCCI Takes a Dig at Steven Smith, Full-blown Twitter War Begins

Peter Handscomb and Mitchell Marsh tried to take the attack back to the hosts by hitting a few boundaries but Ravichandran Ashwin made a stellar comeback to remove the other Marsh. A ripper of an off-spinner from Ashwin jumped up after hitting a crack and caught Marsh on his gloves before a close-in fielder caught it. Mitchell Marsh was sent back for 13 and Australia now were 101 for 5.

Ashwin put the hosts in cruise control mode after dismissing Matthew Wade for duck, caught behind by Saha, and leaving the visitors tottering at 101/6 going into the tea break.

India knew the destructive ability of Mitchell Starc and it was important to get rid of the big hitting all-rounder and Ashwin did just that immediately after the tea break, cleaning up Starc for 1 as Australia slumped to 103/7.

First innings hero Ravindra Jadeja got into the act next to remove Steve O’Keefe and victory was now a matter of time for India.

Ravichandran Ashwin picked up the last two wickets to claim 6 in the second innings, completing his 25th career five-wicket haul to guide India to victory.

Earlier Australia were bowled out in their first innings for 276 runs, thanks mainly to a 6-wicket haul by Ravindra Jadeja. The Australians had taken a crucial 87-run first innings lead.

India were bowled out on the first day of the Test for a paltry 189 after electing to bat first, with Aussie off-spinner Nathan Lyon picking up an 8-wicket haul.