Andrew Wu |
The battle for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy has turned into a no holds barred, bare-knuckle fight after Australia’s batsmen buckled in the face of extreme pressure as India pulled off an epic victory in a spiteful finish to the second Test on Tuesday.
Australia’s subcontinental batting nightmares came back to haunt them amid a sea of umpiring mistakes and technical blunders to spin as Virat Kohli’s India dragged itself off the canvas to level the series 1-1 with two Tests left to play.
Confusion ruled on a chaotic fourth day with umpires and players all under the spotlight as Australia crumbled in a spectacular heap to crash to a 75-run loss.
Chasing a challenging but by no means impossible 188 for victory, Australia lost 6/11 either side of tea to surrender their series lead.
Steve Smith top-scored for Australia with 28 while Ravi Ashwin reigned supreme with a match-winning 6/41.
The visitors made a bright start against the new ball but there was little resistance after leaders David Warner and Smith departed in controversial circumstances.
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The M.Chinnaswamy Stadium turned into a 21st century colosseum as relations between both sides hit their lowest point since the Monkeygate scandal reached its explosive conclusion in Sydney in 2008.
Despite repeated interventions, umpires were unable to keep control of proceedings as both sides pushed the boundaries of fair play.
The recriminations are likely to continue long into the week with players from both sides set to come under the scrutiny of match referee Chris Broad after one of the most combative Tests played in recent years. Kohli and Steve O’Keefe are almost certain to be cited.
The rise of the IPL was supposed to bring relations between both countries closer however simmering tensions bubbled to the surface over the last four days.
Batsmen were being given sendoffs and at one point Steve O’Keefe was being taunted as he strode to the crease. The spinner had a day earlier got up close and personal to Cheteshwar Pujara during the celebration of a wicket.
Despite failing to fire a shot with the bat, no player wielded more influence on this match than the belligerent Kohli, who showed scant regard for the traditions of the game in his pursuit of victory.
The firebrand was at the centre of almost every controversy, forcing umpires Richard Illingworth and Nigel Llong needing to step in on numerous scraps as well as officiate a high stakes game of cricket.
Spotfires were still burning when the match descended into chaos after Smith was given out leg before wicket to a grubber from Umesh Yadav.
As Smith deliberated over whether to review the decision, Kohli stepped in, apparently angry the Australian captain was consulting the dressing room. This is not allowed under the rules of the decision review system.
The umpires were not perfect either, adding to the drama with several contentious calls.
Warner has right to feel aggrieved after his lbw decision was not overturned despite replays showing he had been hit outside the line.
With only one referral left, Shaun Marsh then chose not to challenge his lbw verdict after shouldering arms. Replayed showed he had erred with the ball missing the off stump. Australia will be wondering what may have been had they received the rub of the green however they were still in a winning position.
But they were no match for Ashwin, who mesmerised Australia’s tail.
“Ashwin did what he as done so well for a long period of time,” Smith said. “He hit good areas, challenged our batters and we were not up to it today.
“I’m proud the way the boys competed, we were outplayed the last day or so.
“I’m proud we came out this morning and hit good areas to get good wickets. This afternoon didn’t go to plan.
“It was quite hard to play, a bit up and down with the quicks and a reasonable amount of rough outside the right-hander’s off stump.
“It was quite difficult but Test cricket is not meant to be easy.”
He always finds a way, be it with bat or ball, he always stands up.”
This piece was first published in The Sydney Morning Herald.