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History suggests India will defend 399-run target at MCG

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 30, Dec 2018, 12:50 pm IST | UPDATED: 30, Dec 2018, 14:08 pm IST

History suggests India will defend 399-run target at MCG Delhi: India registered a memorable 137-run victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on Saturday as they won the Boxing Day Test against Australia for the very first time. India and Australia have played eight Boxing Day Tests in Melbourne since 1985, they had lost five and drawn two but this is the first time when India walked out as winners of the Boxing Day Test.

Boxing Day Tests have a very rich history in Australia and the sheer enormity of the MCG, more often than not, intimidates oppositions. The Test, which starts a day after Christmas, sees a huge cricket-crazy crowd at the MCG on the first day and that was the day when India stamped their authority of the Test.

 

People wondered if the inexperienced in the Indian team will get overwhelmed by the massive occasion of the Boxing Day Test but debutant Mayank Agarwal and first-time opener for India Hanuma Vihari showed extreme maturity up top to give India a brilliant start.


When it came to bowling, Jasprit Bumrah shone bright and how in just his debut year in Test cricket and ripped through the Australian batting line-up in the first innings.

All the Boxing Day Tests that India have lost came in big margins but in 2018, the tables were turned and India dominated the home team throughout the massive Test in Melbourne.

Both India's batsmen (despite the second innings collapse) and bowlers completely outplayed the Australian batsmen even though Pat Cummins came up with a brilliant performance with the ball for Australia.

Big names in India's cricketing history like Kapil Dev, Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Anil Kumble and MS Dhoni did not achieve as captain what Virat Kohli achieved on Saturday -- a Boxing Day Test victory over Australia.

Kohli, Mayank and Cheteshwar Pujara shone with the bat and Rishabh Pant came up with an important 33 in the second innings while India's pace battery -- Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami -- along with Ravindra Jadeja set up the big Test match win for India.

With the win, India now lead the four-match series 2-1 with the final Test match set to be played in Sydney, starting January 2, 2019.

Even as India registered a historic win, here's a look at the past seven Boxing Day Tests between India and Australia:

1985: Kapil Dev's India drew the first-ever Boxing Day Test between the two sides. Ravi Shastri, K Srikkanth, Dilip Vengsarkar and Kapil Dev shone for India while Allan Border's valiant 163 saved the match for Australia.

1991: Mohammad Azharuddin had a horrific debut as captain at the MCG with his side being thrashed by eight wickets in the Boxing Day Test. A poor overall display, especially in terms of batting, meant India could hardly pose a challenge.

1999: Sachin Tendulkar did not enjoy much success during his captaincy and the Boxing Day Test was another example of that as Team India were routed by 180 runs. Tendulkar did score a century in the match but it came in a losing cause as he did not getting any support from other batsmen and the bowlers.

2003: This particular Boxing Day Test saw a classic 195 from Virender Sehwag but it did not prove to be enough as Australian captain Ricky Ponting came up with a double century to eventually help Australia win the match.

2007: Anil Kumble led India to a 337-run loss in the Boxing Day Test and it all came down to a disastrous batting display from India. While Matthew Hayden was at the top form once more for Australia, Sachin Tendulkar's 62 in the second innings was the only time an Indian batsmen went past 50 runs in both the innings put together. All that despite a four-wicket haul from Zaheer Khan.

2011: This was a case of so close yet so far for MS Dhoni's men. In Dhoni's first Test in Australia as captain, Zaheer Khan, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma combined to give India a brilliant chance to win in the second innings, only for a batting failure to lose the Test by 122 runs.

2014: This Boxing Day Test is more remembered for Dhoni's untimely retirement from Test cricket than the thrilling draw. Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane all scored centuries in the first innings while Shaun Marsh missed one by a run in the second innings. India were in trouble in the second innings at 142/6, chasing 384 on the final day. But Dhoni took charge along with Ravichandran Ashwin and saved the Test.

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