India 272 (Vijay 57, Pujara 52, Jadeja 43, Lyon 7-94) and 158 for 4 (Pujara 82*, Kohli 41)
Australia262 (Siddle 51, Smith 46, Ashwin 5-57) and 164 (Siddle 50, Cowan 24, Jadeja 5-58) beat by 6 wickets
Man of the series – Ashwin
NEW DELHI: History was made at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday as India wrapped up their first-ever 4-0 series win over any opposition with a six-wicket verdict against Australia.
Set a presumably challenging 155 to win on a disintegrating third-day pitch, the chase was guided to perfection by Cheteshwar Pujara’s 92-ball, unbeaten 82 as the target was realised in a shade above 31 overs.
Pujara’s brilliance made sure that Ravindra Jadeja’s maiden five-wicket haul, which had shot out Australia for 164 in their second innings, was not allowed to go in vain. For, after Murali Vijay (11) was bowled trying to reverse-sweep off-spinner Glenn Maxwell, India stuttered momentarily.
Virat Kohli (41), Sachin Tendulkar (1) and Ajinkya Rahane (1) got out within five runs of each other and MS Dhoni was dropped by wicket-keeper Mathew Wade off Nathan Lyon before he had opened his account. It is in the light of this minor batting collapse that Pujara’s sparkling half-century attains a new luminescence.
The Saurashtra batsman procured his runs at a fair clip, stroking eleven boundaries, not once allowing the pressure to build on a dicey wicket. Victory was attained when Dhoni, like he has so many time in his career, swung Lyon to the fence.
Jadeja was named Man of the Match for his first innings 43 and seven wickets, while Ashwin was declared Man of the Series for scalping 29 Australians across four Tests. Not since Harbhajan Singh against the same opposition in 2001 has an Indian bowler gained such a rich haul in a series.
It was indeed Jadeja’s left-arm spin that catalysed the match to a premature end. The 24-year-old was, in conjunction with Kohli, involved in several verbal duels with the opposing batsmen as Australia collapsed to 53/5 in their second innings. Jadeja dismissed the openers David Warner and Maxwell – the former accorded a colourful send-off – and also removed a resistant Ed Cowan (pushed down to No.3) with a sharp turner that spat from the surface.
Phil Hughes was adjudged ‘lbw’ – a little harshly – and Shane Watson exited to a pull botched on account of low bounce.
It took another Peter Siddle special to bolster Australia. The fast bowler scored his second fifty of the match to become the only No.9 batsmen in history to top-score in both innings of a Test. Siddle struck seven sweet boundaries in his 45-ball 50, adding 28 and 35 for wickets eight and nine.
The efflux continued unabated at the other end. Steve Smith did not offer a shot to Jadeja and was bowled; Wade looked distinctly uncomfortable during his 38-ball stay before he was caught smartly by a diving Dhoni off Ashwin.
Siddle was the last man out when he was stumped off an Ashwin wide, setting India a target of 155. Visions of an unlikely triumph to close what has been a horrid tour would have flashed through Aussie minds, but their spinners were unable to draw similar purchase from the pitch as had India’s.
Pujara’s brilliance at the top of the order then made certain that India’s almost picture-perfect series did not suffer the eruption of a few nagging zits.