India look set to inject another 2000 runs of Test experience in to a side riding high on one of the country’s greatest Test comebacks with Rohit Sharma expected to play in the third Test.
Sharma, who has scored three of his six Test hundreds in his last six innings, joined the Indian squad in Melbourne having served 14 days quarantine in Sydney after his late arrival in Australia due to injury.
His inclusion could come at the expense of opener Mayank Agarwal, who failed twice at the MCG, and leave as few as four players from the horror show in Adelaide for the third game.
Only captain Ajinkya Rahane, named Johnny Mullagh medallist as best player in the Boxing Day Test Cheteshwar Pujara and bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Ravi Ashwin are set to remain from a match that plenty thought would bring the tourists to their knees.
Instead, inspired by what coach Ravi Shastri called an “innings and a half” from MCG centurion Rahane, and inspired debuts from Shubman Gill and Mohammed Siraj, the Indians have grabbed all the momentum in a series now levelled 1-1.
“I said to (Rahane) that was not an innings, it was an innings and a half, it was brilliant,” Shastri said about Rahane’s match-defining 112.
“To bat six hours and back himself, in tough conditions with the lights on, was outstanding. And his captaincy too, he didn’t miss a trick.”
Shastri said he didn’t say much after the Indians were embarrassed in Adelaide, all out for 36, their lowest score in the history of Test cricket.
Rahane, who hit the winning runs off Nathan Lyon, said he too lead by his actions, and hailed the character of his team to dominate the Australians in their eight-wicket win in Melbourne.
“Character matters a lot,” Rahane told Fox Cricket.
“After that loss in Adelaide I thought character was really important going in to this Test match … and the way everyone played was really magnificent.
“Talk (before the game) was all about showing that attitude on the field, that intent, and character. It was hard for us with only four bowlers but credit to each and every individual to show that character and win this Test match.”
Rahane said they were “excited” about Sharma rejoining the team for the third Test.
The Indian team and Rahane also earned high praise from the man he’s filling in for, Virat Kohli, who lauded the victory.
“What a win this is, absolutely amazing effort by the whole team. Couldn‘t be happier for the boys and specially Jinks who led the team to victory amazingly,” Kohli posted on Twitter from India where he’s awaiting the birth of his first child.
“Onwards and upwards from here.”
Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar also said he loved the “resilience and character” shown by the team to move on from the loss in Adelaide.