Having suffered an unforeseen defeat in the first Test in Pune, the pressure was on India as the caravan shifted to the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Skipper Virat Kohli won a highly important toss on a pitch which featured discernible cracks on the opening day itself.
Utilising the residual moisture underneath the surface, Nathan Lyon helped Australia gain an early advantage. However, the Indian bowlers restored parity with their relentless approach. As the pendulum slowly began to swing in the home team’s favour, the batsmen applied themselves better to set a difficult target for the visitors. With the cracks gaining more significance, India completed a 75-run victory to storm back into the series.
Here’s how each player contributed to India’s memorable triumph in the second Test in Bengaluru.
KL Rahul – 9
The only batsman from either side to score more than fifty in both innings, Rahul looked at ease for the majority of his stay on what was an extremely challenging surface. His first innings knock of 90 from 205 balls unveiled a different side of him. Perhaps the lack of a three-figure score could be the only blip for the top run-scorer in the series thus far.
Cheteshwar Pujara – 9
Pujara reiterated his value to the team with a game-changing 92 in the second innings. Despite being troubled by Nathan Lyon, he kept battling hard to produce one of the most fulfilling knocks of his career. His perseverance as well as a clear plan to counter the conditions helped him stand out as the pitch continued to deteriorate.
Ravichandran Ashwin – 8.5
Even though he was quite economical, Ashwin’s ability to strike regularly appeared to desert him in the first innings. However, the game’s top-ranked bowler rediscovered his touch in the second innings.
In a crucial spell, he tore through the lower middle-order to set-up the game for his side. En route to his 25th five-wicket haul, the Tamil Nadu off-spinner went past the iconic Bishen Singh Bedi to become India's fifth highest Test wicket-taker of all-time.
Ravindra Jadeja – 8.5
Despite being surprisingly under-bowled in the first innings, Jadeja still managed to picked up a six-wicket haul. Fittingly, it was the raucous crowd that finally convinced captain Kohli to bring the left-arm spinner back into the attack. Aside from not responding to the team management’s inexplicable decision to send him in to bat at number five, he did everything he could to contribute to his side’s cause.
Umesh Yadav – 7.5
With his front-on action and slippery pace making him a menace on such tracks, Umesh relentlessly targeted the stumps to keep the batsmen on their toes. Not showing the fatigue associated with a long workload shouldered over the course of the season, he ran in manfully and prised out the key wicket of Steven Smith in the second innings to clear the way for India’s victory.
Ajinkya Rahane – 7
Having come into this match on the back of poor form, Rahane appeared more confident this time around. Although an uncharacteristic rush of blood prematurely cut short his stay on the opening day, he put on a potentially series defining 118-run partnership with Pujara to redeem himself in the second innings. However, a bit more caution from him could have averted the collapse against the second new-ball.
Ishant Sharma – 7
As he so often does, Ishant operated with control and kept plugging away at the right channel. He combined admirably with Umesh to maintain the pressure on the vital second day which saw the scales beginning to tilt in the hosts’ favour.
Wriddhiman Saha – 7
On a pitch which was probably among the toughest he had kept wickets on, Saha was quite impressive behind the stumps. Yes, there was the odd missed chance like the one against Mitchell Starc in the first innings but his glove work remained reliable. A handy cameo with the bat as well as the spectacular catch to dismiss Matthew Wade in the second innings showed his fighting attitude.
Virat Kohli – 5
Kohli had a couple of interesting dismissals in this Test. A bizarre back-foot leave saw him trapped in front by Nathan Lyon during the opening day. He was undone by a delivery that kept very low in the second innings. Even though replays remained quite inconclusive, the 28-year-old did not receive the benefit of the doubt. On the field, he was more vocal than usual and his infectiously positive body language spilled on to his team mates.
Karun Nair – 4.5
Returning to the playing eleven courtesy of India’s abject batting display in Pune, Nair got off to a decent start in the first innings but threw his wicket away in a moment of madness at an inopportune time. When his team needed him to get some valuable runs in the second innings, his hesitancy was ruthlessly exploited by Starc.
Abhinav Mukund – 3.5
With Murali Vijay sidelined due to a shoulder injury, Mukund got an opportunity to play his first Test in more than five years. However, he failed to make an impression as scores of 0 and 16 could indicate another prolonged stay in the wilderness if the regular opener regains fitness.