A deteriorating Feroz Shah Kotla pitch made for an absorbing third day contest before India regained the Border Gavaskar Trophy with a six-wicket victory over Australia with two days remaining in the fourth Test here on Sunday.
On a sunny day, India also notched up their first-ever 4-0 score-line. The last time India had a series clean sweep was against Sri Lanka in 1994 at home when they won 3-0. It was a fitting finale for India, who had lost by the same margin during their 2011-12 Down Under tour.
The victory might also have helped to heal the wounds of their embarrassing 1-2 defeat to England at home last year to some extent.
Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja were the chief architects of Indian win on the day, coming up with sparkling individual efforts. Jadeja grabbed five wickets (5-58) as Australia were skittled out for 164, and ensured that India would not be chasing more than 155. Pujara marshalled that chase with aplomb with an unbeaten 82 (92b, 11x4). Australia’s lone moment of joy came in the morning when offie Nathan Lyon completed a seven-wicket haul (7-94) to end India’s first innings at 272, restricting the hosts’ lead to just 10 runs.
But in the end, that slender lead proved more than enough. Man of the match Jadeja scythed through the Aussie top order with his accurate left-arm spin. Glenn Maxwell was promoted up the order with David Warner for quick runs on a spiteful pitch.
But Maxwell became the first casualty when Jadeja’s ball sneaked in to clip the off-stump. Warner (8), Phil Hughes (6), Shane Watson (5) and Ed Cowan (24) followed in quick succession to leave Australia reeling at 53 for five.
Steven Smith and Peter Siddle showed run making was not so tough on this surface with the latter racing to his second fifty of the match. Siddle’s 45-ball knock with seven boundaries made him the first no 9 batsman in history to score a fifty in both the innings of a Test match. Man of the series Ashwin brought his fall. Siddle gave charge to the Tamil Nadu offie, only to be stumped by Dhoni. His wicket also signalled the end of Australian innings.
Pujara, who had not taken the field because of a swollen finger, came out to open with Murali Vijay and the two blazed off to a fine start. Lyon, who opened the bowling, was on the threshold of a hat-trick, but Vijay swept him for two consecutive boundaries to give wings to their chase. Lyon had dismissed Ishant Sharma and Pragya Ojha in successive deliveries in India’s first innings.
Vijay, however, departed soon while trying a reverse sweep off Maxwell. But Pujara and Virat Kohli built up the momentum to stifle the Australians. Mitchell Johnson was creamed for three boundaries in an over by Pujara and Kohli took care of Lyon with a lot of flair.
However Lyon once again gave a semblance of hope to the Aussies. He packed off Kohli, Sachin Tendulkar and Ajinkya Rahane within three overs to startle a packed gathering.
Dhoni entered the field with India needing 27 for a win. Runs came quickly with Pujara showing his attacking vein. His three consecutive boundaries off Maxwell put the team within close reach before Dhoni provided the finishing touch off Lyon, a slog-swept boundary to mid-wicket.
The Indian skipper, typically, desisted from exaggerated celebrations, standing his ground dreamily after hitting the winning runs. In front of a cheering crowd, the Indian team took a winning lap. It was a victory long yearned and hard earned; one that inked this team in the pages of history.
AUSTRALIA (I innings) 262
INDIA (I innings, O/n: 266/8): 272 all out
AUSTRALIA (II Innings):
Warner lbw Jadeja 8
(23m, 15b, 1x4)
Maxwell b Jadeja 8
(16m, 14b, 1x4)
Cowan lbw Jadeja 24
(50m, 44b, 4x5)
Hughes lbw Ashwin 6
Watson b Ojha 5
Smith b Jadeja 18
43m, 53b, 1x4)
Wade c Dhoni b Ojha 19
(55m, 38b, 2x4)
Johnson b Jadeja 0
Siddle st b Ashwin 50
(58m, 45b, 4x7)
Pattinson b Ishant 11
(34m, 28b, 1x4)
Lyon (not out) 5
(9m, 7b, 1x4)
Extras (B-8, LB-2) 10
Total (all out, 46.3 overs) 164
Fall of wickets: 1-15 (Maxwell), 2-20 (Warner), 3-41 (Hughes), 4-51 (Watson), 5-53 (Cowan), 6-94 (Smith), 7-94, 8-122 (Wade), 9-157 (Pattinson).
Bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2-0-9-0, Ravichandran Ashwin 15.3-2-55-2, Jadeja 16-2-58-5, Ojha 11-2-19-2, Ishant Sharma-2-0-13-1
INDIA (II Innings):
Vijay b Maxwell 11
(12m, 12b, 1x4)
Pujara (not out) 82
(124m, 92b, 10x4)
Kohli lbw Lyon 41
(76m, 60b, 4x4)
Tendulkar lbw Lyon 1
Rahane c Lyon b Maxwell 1
Dhoni (not out) 12
(21m, 14b, 2x4)
Extras (B-9, LB-1) 10
Total (for 4 wkts, 31.2 overs) 158
Fall of wickets: 1-19 (Vijay), 2-123 (Kohli), 3-127 (Tendulkar), 4-128 (Rahane).
Bowling: Lyon 15.2-0-71-2, Maxwell 11-0-54-2, Johnson 2-0-16-0, Pattinson 3-0-7-0.