Incredible India trump Australia; reclaim Border-Gavaskar Trophy
India sealed the series 2-1 with an 8-wkts win at Dharamsala (Image: BCCI)
The picturesque venue of Dharamsala always makes for a fine viewing experience for the spectators but for the 10 completed sessions of the 4th test match between India and Australia, hardly any spectator would have taken his eyes off from the action on the ground. After a see-saw two days, India finally put their hands up to take the match in their control to lay their hands on the coveted Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Chasing 106 for the series win, KL Rahul and Stand in skipper Ajinkya Rahane shocked the Australian bowlers with their all out attack, after quick dismissals of Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara had given them a ray of hope. Rahane in particular was in murderous mood as he displayed his array of strokes. Consecutive sixes off a bustling Pat Cummins were a perfect indicator of Rahane’s intentions. India chased down the target of 106 runs in just 23.5 overs with 8 wickets to spare. KL Rahul scored his sixth half century of the series (51*) while Rahane was unbeaten at 38 runs off a mere 27 balls. With this win, Rahane has become the second Indian captain to have won the first match as captain in all three formats of international cricket.
India swept the series 2-1 to make it an all victory home season. This is India’s 4th consecutive series win this season and India lost just 1 off the 13 test matches played during that time. With this win, India has won their last Test series against all test playing nations. Australia and South Africa are the only other teams to have achieved this feat of holding series wins against all teams at a point of time. Australia has their batsmen to blame completely on a pitch that was the best for batting in this series and that too especially for Australians as it had the bounce that they are accustomed to. On top of that, they were 131 for 1 at the lunch time on day 1 and looking good to score well above 450 runs just before the debutant left arm Chinaman – Kuldeep Yadav bamboozled them with 4 wickets to initiate the famous Australian collapse which saw them being bundled out for 300 runs on the first day. In perspective, these 300 runs consisted off the 3rd century from Steve Smith in this series and half centuries from David Warner and Matthew Wade. None of the other batsmen added any value to the score card.
India in reply played cautiously with Pujara and Rahul hitting half centuries and Rahane and Ashwin scored 46 and 30 respectively but still at 221 for 6 India were looking down the barrel and looked certain of falling short of the Australian first innings score of 300 runs. Pat Cummins was on fire and generated unplayable speed and bounce for all the batsmen and bowled long spells too but the destroyer in chief was Nathan Lyon with 4 out of the first 6 wickets. It was all upto Saha and Jadeja to help India get as close as possible to the Australian score but what they did was way beyond the expectations. Jadeja hammered his way to yet another half century (63) as Saha gave him able support with a crucial 31 runs and a match saving partnership worth 96 runs. In the end, India secured a lead of 32 vital runs and that proved priceless as Indian fast bowlers removed the top 3 Australian batsmen before the lead could be razed. India kept taking wickets and barring a stroke filled 45 from Glen Maxwell, none of the Australian batsmen spent time on the pitch. Australia folded for just 137 runs leaving India just 106 to win the match and the series.
The pitch at Dharamsala was nothing short of magic. There was pace, bounce and movement for fast bowlers and turn for spinners while the ball was coming on to the bat nicely to enable stroke making. To be fair, India showed nerves at crucial moments and that was the difference between the two sides. Australia kept losing opportunities while being in winning position and India made use of them whenever required.
This win feels sweeter than the other 3 series as this was a much closely fought series with Indian team showing their true character by bouncing back after losing the first match badly. For Australia all is not gloomy as it was not so long ago that the experts had named them the weakest Australian side ever to tour India and a 4-0 rout was predicted. The young Australian side showed a lot of fight and promise and takes back an experience that will make them much better players.
India on the other hand has many finds to take home along with the trophy. Reassurance of Pujara (he has got the most runs by an Indian player in a Test season), KL Rahul’s consistency, Umesh Yadav’s fiery fast bowling, Kuldeep Rawat’s fantastic debut, Jadeja’s growing prominence and to top it all, the win came without Virat Kohli. This team is a bunch of wonderful performers and has a bright future ahead. Ravindra Jadeja was the man of the match & Man of the series for his all round display. Ravindra Jadeja has become the first left-arm Indian spinner to win a Man of the Series award in Tests. Jadeja has scored six 50+ scores in 2016-17 season, same number as Kohli & Vijay. Only Rahul (7) and Pujara (12) have made more fifties this season. Jadeja has also picked up 68 wickets in the season, second-most after Ashwin’s 79. He’s also reached to the top position in ICC test bowlers rankings.
Brief Scores: Ind vs Aus, 4th Test, Dharamsala
Australia 300 & 137
India 332 & 106/2 (23.5 ov)
India won by 8 wickets