Melbourne, Dec 29 (IANS) Prophets of doom — including former captain Ricky Ponting of Australia and England’s Michael Vaughan, and Aussie Mark Waugh, who all have predicted India’s 0-4 mauling by Australia in Tests — are already beating a hasty retreat, after the visitors made a grand comeback in the second Test on Tuesday and level the four-match series 1-1. And, now, a gung-ho India are eager to rub salt to Australia’s injury.
By winning the second Test by eight wickets here, India drew parity, after losing the first one by a similar margin in Adelaide. Captain Virat Kohli has returned home after the first Test to be with his wife who is expecting their first child while Ajinkya Rahane is captaining it in the last three matches.
India have defied predictions of several former players by winning the second Test and thus preventing a whitewash. The return of Steve Smith and David Warner and India’s dismal show in the first Test had led to pundits predicting a clean sweep for Australia considering India were without talismanic Kohli for the rest of the series.
However, the visitors, led by stand-in skipper Rahane, were dominant in the Boxing Day Test.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan had predicted a 4-0 whitewash in Australia’s favour before the series started and reiterated the claim after India’s defeat in the day-night Adelaide Test played with the pink ball.
After India’s win on Tuesday, Vaughan seem to be beating a hasty retreat. He corrected his prediction to a 3-1 win for Australia. “If the pitches are similar for the Ashes as they have been for the Indian series it gives England a great chance… If Melbourne replaces Sydney for this series it also gives India a chance but I still think the Aussies will bounce back and win 3-1.. #AUSvIND,” Vaughan tweeted on Tuesday.
Since his tweet, Cricket Australia has confirmed that Sydney would host the third Test, starting on January 7.
Vaughan, however, commended India and Rahane for their performance at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“Congrats India .. Winning against the odds is always special .. Has to be the best all round performance by a Captain we have witnessed for many many years .. well done @ajinkyarahane88 .. also @RealShubmanGill is going to be a star .. #AUSvIND !” Vaughan tweeted.
“If Australia win the 1st Test and India lose Kohli, this could be 4-0 for Australia,” Vaughan had tweeted before the start of the series.
Former Australian batsman Mark Waugh said that India had “no hope” after the first Test, in which they also lost frontline fast bowler Mohammed Shami apart from Kohli returning home.
“I thought Adelaide was the Test that they could win on paper and with Virat Kohli here for just the one Test. I thought the conditions would suit them. I just can’t see how they can bounce back (after) Australia whitewashed them on the third day. So ‘no’ is the answer — 4-0 to Australia,” said a confident Mark Waugh on Fox Cricket.
Wonder what his reaction would be on India’s win.
Former Australia wicket-keeper-batsman Brad Haddin wondered where India would get their motivation from after the debacle in Adelaide considering Kohli is gone.
“If they are going to get back into the game, what I want to know is where they’re going to get their energy from. Virat Kohli is gone now and a lot of the energy comes off the back of what he does. He’s a world-class player, he’s their leader,” Haddin said on Fox Cricket.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting also reckoned that the nature of the win in Adelaide had given Australia a chance to do a clean sweep.
“Now there’s some serious wounds opened up. There could be a good chance (of a sweep),” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “Let’s hope we do get a result in Melbourne and if we do, I think India’s going to find it really hard to bounce back and win a game.”
Ponting, however, commended Rahane for the way he led the team in the Boxing Day Test. His successor as Australia’s captain, Michael Clarke, had said after India’s first innings in Adelaide that all of the visiting batsmen except Kohli were looking to block and not score runs.
“He was the pick of the batters and he was the only one that wanted to score runs, everyone else wanted to block it. This has been my concern with India from the start,” Clarke said on Sky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.
“Can you imagine this Indian batting line-up without Virat Kohli for the next two Test matches? They are in deep trouble. At stages it was very hard to watch,” said Clarke.
They all would be probably hiding after India’s stunning comeback into the series, with a promise to deliver more in the series.