NEW DELHI: Australia’s spirit fizzled out in just 19.1 overs on the third day of the second Test at the Kotla. In about 90 minutes of absolute bizarre batting against high-quality spin of Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin, Australia were shot out for 113, turning an intriguing Test match into a lopsided affair as India chased down the 114-run target with six wickets to spare to go 2-0 up in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on Sunday.
In comparison to the preceding Test in Nagpur, Australia had a field day of sorts on the first two days here. But then there was Jadeja waiting to re-introduce them to the house of horror on a wicked third-day Indian pitch.
For the second time in the series, he exploited the glaring technical inadequacies of Aussie batsmen to return career-best figures of 7/42 with Ashwin claiming 3/59.
For a brief while, it seemed the Australian batters had learnt to play in spinning conditions as they got ahead by 62 runs by the end of Day 2. Surprisingly, they gave away the advantage all too quickly on Sunday morning, resorting to a premeditated-sweep-only tactic the moment Ashwin found the outside edge of Travis Head in the first over of the day.
Jadeja and Ashwin, ever ready to pounce on their prey in home conditions, were not going to relent without
devouring the sitting ducks.
As Cheteshwar Pujara capped his 100th Test by dispatching Todd Murphy to the boundary to finish proceedings
at the Kotla, India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and all but sealed their spot in the World Test Championship final to be played in June.
“There were times Jadeja was put under pressure but there was no sense of panic. He just kept relying on what
he is good at and he kept doing that. He went for more than five runs per over last evening but he knew exactly what the batters were trying to do and was confident to put them under pressure and get them out,” India skipper Rohit Sharma said after the match.
It’s well established that Jadeja is an absolute beast with the ball on a pitch that offers a semblance of variable bounce and any degree of turn. The Australians’ regimented mindset didn’t help their cause either.
Six of Jadeja’s wickets were either bowled or LBW. In fact, only two Australian batters were caught out.
Once Steve Smith fell sweeping to Ashwin and Labuschagne was bowled playing back to a good length delivery from Jadeja that kept low, rest of the Australian batters looked like they were lost in a haunted house.
It was obvious Australia didn’t have a Plan B.
“In the morning, I just wanted to tell our three spinners to stay calm. We don’t need to change fields as often as we did last evening. We will keep it tight and let batters make that mistake. I could sense they wanted to keep playing agg ressively,” Rohit explained the team plan.
This loss is going to sting Australia big time. Having capitulated not once but twice in the series, it will be tough for the visitors to get over the psychological scars inflicted on them and make a comeback in the series.