India's biggest takeaway from the second Test were debutants Shubman Gill (45 and 32 not out) and Mohammed Siraj (2/40 and 3/37). Although they didn't get the big numbers, the two did enough damage and helped India win.
Before the start of the second Test, India were facing a conundrum at the top of the order. With Rohit Sharma in quarantine after arriving in Australia, and Prithvi Shaw failing in both innings of the first Test, India had to push young Gill in the deep waters. And though the opener had his tense moments, he did not budge from playing his shots.
On the first day of the Test, 21-year-old Gill survived a chance on four when Marnus Labuschagne dropped him in third slip off the bowling of Pat Cummins. The very next ball from Mitchell Starc was dispatched to the fence as the batsman got on top of the bounce and punched it through cover. Soon, Gill was moving down the track to Nathan Lyon and hitting a four.
On the second morning, too, he was dropped, in the second over of the day, this time off Josh Hazlewood. But the very next ball was again dispatched to the fence on the leg-side. Even in the second innings, when India was chasing a small total, facing the ghosts of 36 in the second innings of the first Test, Gill went about playing his shots even as Mayank Agarwal and Cheteshwar Pujara were dismissed early. The Aussies had no answer.
"I thought he looked very, very mature for someone playing his first Test match. He looked calm and composed and wasn't afraid to play his shots. Even in the second innings, when it was very easy to get into a shell, Gill went out and played his natural game," said India coach Ravi Shastri.
Pacer Siraj too remained unnerved despite the departure of Umesh Yadav during Australia's second innings on the third day. He kept a tight line and became the first Indian in seven years to pick five wickets in a Test match, when he got Nathan Lyon on the fourth day. Siraj's other wickets were extremely important -- he removed Cameron Green twice, Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head once each. By Siraj's own admission he just kept straight and accurate lines, curtailing the flow of runs and not trying anything fancy.
"I focus on the basics. I don't try much," said Siraj while crediting domestic cricket and Indian Premier League for his reassuring performance.
"It's really difficult for debutants to bowl with discipline but that's where the first-class experience comes in,’’ said Rahane after the match.
Gill plays and opens for Kolkata Knight Riders, sharing the dressing room with Pat Cummins and Lockie Ferguson and faces them at the nets; Siraj shares the dressing room with the likes of AB de Villiers and Aaron Finch and bowls at them in the Royal Challengers Bangalore nets.