New Delhi, March 24 (IANS) In a payback, India whitewashed Australia 4-0 by winning the fourth Test comprehensively by six wickets with two days to spare to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Ferozeshah Kotla here Sunday.
Set to get 155 runs on a day when 16 wickets crashed for 328 runs on the notorious Kotla pitch, Cheteshwar Pujara scored more than half the required runs (82 not out), the most by a batsman in the Test. He left it to his skipper to make the winning hit.
It is more than a mere revenge for India, who lost four Tests each in England and Australia on the trot. They have now regained the confidence to compete at the highest level by recording easily their best-ever series victory.
India whitewashed their opponent in a four-Test series for the first time whereas for Australia it is their second 0-4 thrashing. The last time the Australians lost 0-4 was when Bill Lawry took them to South Africa in 1970.
Resuming at overnight 266 for eight, the Indian innings lasted 13 balls and the hosts were bowled out for 272. Nathan Lyon returned with his career-best seven for 94.
The Australian batting collapsed for a second time and Peter Siddle again rescued them with his second 50 of the match to give the visitors something to bowl at. Australia had scored 262 in the first innings.
Siddle, who struck 51 in the first innings, also became the first No.9 to score a half-century in both innings of a Test.
Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja bagged his maiden fifer – five for 58 and was adjudged the Man of the Match and offie Ravichandran Ashwin Man of the series for his 29-wicket haul.
India began their chase aggressively, but Murali Vijay (11) was carried away in his attempt at a reverse sweep and got bowled by Glenn Maxwell (2/54).
Pujara and Virat Kohli (41) maintained the tempo and were on a cruise to take the side close to victory, adding 104 runs. They made batting look easy on a track on which the Australians were clueless till Nathan Lyon returned to remove Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar (1) in consecutive overs, both leg before.
Lyon dismissed Tendulkar for the third time in three Tests and fourth time in six Tests.
As Ajinkya Rahane’s (1) forgetful debut ended after he tried to hit out Maxwell, there was some synthetic excitement with India still needing 20-odd runs to win. But the writing on the wall was clear.
Pujara dispelled all doubts by cracking three fours off a Maxwell over before Dhoni struck the winning boundary.
While Jadeja was busy running through the Australian innings, another left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and offie Ravichandran Ashwin bagged two each from the other end. The cracks grew wider and every time a ball landed on a crack, it left both the batsmen and the fielders wondering which ball would deviate.
Jadeja opened his account with Maxwell (8) and tempers frayed when he got rid of Warner (8) in his next over. Jadeja broke into wild celebrations even before the umpire had given Warner out. Jadeja showed Warner the way back to the pavilion.
After the send-off, umpire Aleem Dar, who was standing at square leg, cautioned Jadeja. Dar called Tendulkar, who in return spoke to Jadeja, who was also involved in a verbal tussle with Warner Saturday during India’s first innings. Pacer Ishant Sharma was also cautioned by Dar for his wild gestures after he bowled James Pattinson (11).
Phil Hughes (6) was the next to go, trapped in front by Ashwin with a delivery that kept low. Shane Watson (5) was unlucky after he was castled by Ojha with a delivery that also stayed low.
Cowan became Jadeja’s third victim before Steve Smith (18) and Matthew Wade (19) joined forces to repair the innings with their 53-run stand for the sixth wicket.
Jadeja struck immediately after lunch to remove Smith and Wade with successive deliveries but was denied a hat-trick by Siddle.