Boxing Day Test: Apprehension... then jubilation at Melbourne Cricket Ground
Depending on which camp you hailed from, the sky threw up hope and gentle dismay respectively
The moment sleep broke yesterday morning, all eyes in Melbourne were trained skywards. Only the finishing touches remained to be applied on the final day of the Boxing Day Test, notwithstanding the resistance of Pat Cummins.
Fresh and well-rested, India's fast bowlers were itching to have a go with the second new ball only five overs in use, and two wickets standing between them and a stirring triumph on Australian soil.
Depending on which camp you hailed from, the sky threw up hope and gentle dismay respectively. The forecast was for the weather to clear by mid-afternoon and they don't generally get it wrong in this part of the world. That didn't prevent Australia from hoping for the persistent drizzle to spill over to a majority of the day, or India from wondering if this would, again, be a case of so near and yet so far.
Realistically, and this isn't said with the benefit of hindsight, there was no cause for alarm or panic within the Indian ranks. No one believed, despite their inevitable apprehension, that the gentle rain wouldn't relent at some stage. Everyone believed, too, that once play started, it would only be a matter of time.
The only edginess there might have been was in the wait for the play to commence, but Virat Kohli said that despite the delayed start, his side was composed and patient. "Not really," Kohli replied when asked if there had been some tension waiting for the game to start. "Some people in the management group were having a look at that [weather and start time]. We knew we had enough time."
The players came to the ground as per normal for the scheduled 10.30 am start, but upon inspection, umpires Marais Erasmus and Ian Gould pegged the local start time back to 11.00 am. Cummins and Nathan Lyon had made their way from the dressing room to the dugout. The Indians were just about going through their preparatory routines. Everything was in readiness for action to resume when another slightly sharper burst of precipitation brought the covers back. The umpires decided on a 12.55 pm resumption. India had a minimum of 71 overs - they lost the extra eight overs summoned the Saturday evening in the push for victory - to prise out two wickets, Australia to knock off the 141 runs. In the end, India needed just 22 minutes, Bumrah evicting Cummins and Ishant Sharma packing off Lyon.
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