When Virat Kohli did not enforce the follow-on in the Boxing Day Test against Australia in Melbourne after taking a massive 292-run lead, many questions were raised. Experts and analysts pointed out that Melbourne was expecting rain on days four and five. India set Australia a target of 399 and Pat Cummins’ fifty helped them reach 258/8 to drag the Test into the final day. Many Australian fans prayed for rain on the final day. When day five came, the rain duly arrived. Melbourne had received rain in the morning and before the match began, the pitch was covered as there was a drizzle. Play was supposed to commence at 5:30 AM IST or 11 AM local time but a heavier spell of rain resulted in more covers being brought out and the first session being washed out totally.
One cricket website cheekily pointed out that there had been an unprecedented popularity for the terms "Melbourne Weather" from India over the last 24 hours from Google. In the interim, Australian fans were pouring over social media and cyberspace praying for the rain to continue for two more sessions. The Indian fans, on the other hand, were cautiously optimistic but some were criticizing Kohli’s decision to not enforce the follow-on. According to the weather report, the afternoon period in Melbourne promises no rain but there is a fresh spell of thundershowers expected towards the final session should Australia drag the match till that time. Lunch was taken at 6:45 AM IST but the covers were coming off and the starting time was 7:25 AM IST
For fans who have been watching Boxing Day Tests for many years, the rain comes as no surprise. In the last eight years, six games have been delayed by rain. In 2010 against England, the start of play was delayed on day 1 but Australia was bowled out for 98 and England registered an innings win. In 2011 against India, day 1 was delayed frequently but the rain did not come on the other days. In the 2012 Test against Sri Lanka, day 3 was interrupted by rain but not to such an extent to influence the outcome of the match. The 2013 and 2014 Tests did not see any interruptions. In 2015, the first hour of the first day in the game against West Indies was delayed. In 2016 against Pakistan, over two days were lost due to rain but Sarfraz Ahmed’s side still lost the game by an innings.
In the 2017 Ashes Test, the fourth day was interrupted by rain but Alastair Cook’s 244 gave England their only draw in a series which Australia won 4-0. Indian fans would be hoping that the rain stays away and that Kohli’s side take the remaining two wickets to secure a 2-1 series win.