New Delhi: Australia left Chennai after the first Test, but Chennai hasn't left them - and it won't. Whether Michael Clarke is walking out for the toss or scratching his head over how to stop MS Dhoni from scoring and R Ashwin from taking wickets, Chennai has been central to decimating Australia in the first two Tests.
Dhoni and Ashwin, the two lynchpins of IPL powerhouse Chennai Super Kings (CSK), carried the burden of India's Test revival in Chennai and were joined by their CSK comrades Ravindra Jadeja and Murali Vijay in Hyderabad to demolish Australia in two consecutive Tests - by eight wickets in Chennai and by an innings and 135 runs in Hyderabad.
Ashwin's offspin has so far reaped him figures of 7 for 103, 5 for 95, 1 for 41 and 5 for 63 in four innings. Dhoni's two appearances at the batting crease saw him score 224 and 44. Jadeja, though he has failed with the bat, has bowled influential spells of 2 for 71, 3 for 72, 3 for 33 and 3 for 33. And Vijay more than made up for his failures in the first Test with a big century (167) in Hyderabad.
Of these, Dhoni's return to form has been most heartening. It has rubbed onto his captaincy, which has been better, if not up to the standards Dhoni has set for himself. On the bowling front, Ashwin's consistency made up for the average show put up by Ishant Sharma and Harbhajan Singh. In fact, in the first Test, Ashwin took 12 of the 20 Australian wickets. Take him out of the equation, and India would have struggled to win in Chennai.
Jadeja - the IPL rock star - has looked adamant to prove his Test credentials, but only with the ball, as his 11 wickets suggest. For a man who has scored two triple-centuries in one first class season, the team expects more than the scratchy 10s and 20s he has got so far in the series. But Jadeja's success with the ball provided Ashwin the support that was expected of Harbhajan initially.
Vijay's century came at just the right time for him as well as the team. With Virender Sehwag once again falling cheaply, Vijay's 370-run stand for the second wicket with double-centurion Cheteshwar Pujara laid the foundation for India's 2-0 series lead. And if he goes on to score consistently in the next two Tests as well, the South Africa tour beckons Vijay.
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