Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India opener Lokesh Rahul scored his sixth fifty of the series to lead his side to a comfortable eight-wicket win over Australia on the fourth day of the fourth Test in Dharamsala.
The victory ensured India registered an incredible come-from-behind 2-1 series win as Australia won the first Test in Pune before the hosts bounced back to level the series in the second Test in Bangalore.
This is the fourth time India have achieved this feat as the other three occasions came against England, Australia and Sri Lanka in 1972/73, 2001 and 2015 respectively.
This was also India’s 10th victory in Test matches in the 2016/17 season and puts them in second place on the all-time list for most Test victories in a season. Australia hold the record as they won 11 out of their 12 Test matches in the 2005/06 season.
Starting off the day on 19/0, India, who were just 87 runs away from victory, continued to inch ever closer to their target, but Australia refused to go down without a fight and Pat Cummins had Murali Vijay caught behind for just eight runs.
Five balls later, Cheteshwar Pujara was on his way back to the pavilion as he was run out by Glenn Maxwell for a duck.
However, that was to be Australia’s last taste of success as Rahul and stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane finished things off with an unbeaten 60-run partnership, during which Rahul brought up his half-century in the midst of hitting the winning runs.
Rahul finished on 51 off 76 balls, which included nine boundaries, while Rahane remained undefeated on 38 off 27 deliveries, which included four boundaries and two sixes.
Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
With Rahul scoring his sixth half-century in the series, the 24-year-old became the first Indian batsman since Mohinder Amarnath in 1983 to achieve the rare feat.
Cummins was the only bowler to take a wicket.
Australia captain Steve Smith was gutted to have lost the series, and said: “Magnificent series. One of the best I have been a part of. Credit to India, they are a fantastic cricket side, particularly in their backyard. If you give them a sniff, they will take that. For Australia, this is the toughest conditions for us. To challenge them so much, I am proud. The middle session yesterday, when you lose five for 70, you put yourself behind. Credit to India. Umesh was fantastic. They have all been fantastic.
“A lot of people wrote us off. They said it was going to be a 4-0 whitewash. I am proud of the way we have competed. We have probably let a few moments slip. Against India you can’t do that. What an amazing ground. The wicket was a good one. Pace and bounce, that’s what we like. It suited spinners as well. If you are willing to bat, you can get runs. I have been pretty intense throughout this series. I really wanted to do well for the team. At times I have been in my own bubble and have let my emotions slip. I apologise for that.”
Rahane was thrilled to have led India to victory, and said: “Really enjoyed it. Credit to all the boys. Not only this series, but to whoever has played this season. Really happy as a captain. I thought our bowlers, batsmen and fielders, they all did well. We decided at lunch on day one that if we stop their runs and if we take one wicket, we could be back because only Smith and Warner were scoring runs.
“The way Kuldeep bowled in that session, hats off to him. We knew Kuldeep was bowling really well in the nets. He had an x-factor. We all had the confidence in him. Fantastic to see Umesh and Bhuvnesh and Ishant and Shami, the kind of performances they put in on Indian pitches. In low-scoring games, you just need 30-40 quick runs in the middle. I was thinking of the Galle defeat when we got into our shell.
“Credit to Australia, they played some good cricket and gave us a fight. This was the best wicket. Good bounce and pace. The ball turned too. But it was good to bat too if you applied yourself.”
India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was named Man of the Match and Man of the Series, and said: “Very good to be the No. 1 Test bowler and being part of this champion Test side. When I batted, I was thinking to take my time and then Matthew Wade chirped from behind. That motivated me. If I can respond to him with runs, it will be great.
“Coaches and captain have been telling me I have the skill to bat long. I developed as a player overall. Some time ago people didn’t consider me a Test bowler. This season is a good response to them. Ashwin and I maintain pressure from both ends. The variation of an off-spinner and left-arm spinner also works well. Hopefully we can continue this outside India too. I will try to get to a hundred next time, and celebrate with two bats as swords.”