‘Unbelievable’ India thrash Australia to maintain Test run


-REUTERS

DHARAMSALA:  India thrashed Australia by eight wickets on Tuesday to seal a Test series marked by outbursts and controversies 2-1 and underline their status as the world’s number one side.

Chasing 106 on the penultimate day of the fourth Test, opener Lokesh Rahul hit 51 not out in Dharamsala as India seized back the Border-Gavaskar trophy from Australia.

India’s stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane (38 not out) hit two sixes in a row off Pat Cummins en route to the comprehensive win, as fans waved giant India flags and danced in the stands.

India have now won seven Test series win in a row, a run that kicked off with their triumph in Sri Lanka in 2015, and includes victories over New Zealand, England and Bangladesh in an extended home season.

Skipper Virat Kohli, who was forced to sit out the final Test with a shoulder injury, said the hard-fought win over Australia was the most satisfying of the recent run.

“Unbelievable. This is the best series win so far,” said Kohli, who received the Test mace on behalf of India for ending the season as the world’s top side.

“The way the Australian team gave us a fight was really amazing, but the way the guys kept bouncing back showed the true character of the side.”

Australia captain Steve Smith apologised for letting emotion get the better of him. On Monday, footage indicated he called Murali Vijay a “cheat” for wrongly claiming a catch on Monday.

“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,” said Smith.

It was one of several incidents during the bad-tempered series, including Kohli accusing Smith of systematically abusing the decision review system during the second Bangalore Test.

– Jadeja the danger man –

In the maiden Test played in Dharamsala, India scored 332 in their first innings in reply to Australia’s 300, before the tourists collapsed for just 137 on the third day.

On day four, India lost Vijay to fast bowler Cummins and Cheteshwar Pujara to a run out, but they were the only scares for the hosts who reached their target in less than 24 overs.

India owed their win to all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who top-scored with 63 runs in the first innings before taking three wickets with his left-arm spin during Australia’s second knock — and was duly named man of the match and man of the series.

“The way the guys handled situations and the way Ajinkya led was outstanding. But the maturity and the responsibility shown by all the guys in the team was pleasing to see, especially from the outside,” said Kohli.

The contest will also be remembered for the form of Aussie skipper Smith, who amassed 499 runs with three centuries, becoming only the sixth visiting batsman to hit as many tons.

Kohli, who was disparagingly compared to US President Donald Trump as he came under fire from Australian media, had a series to forget, scoring only 46 in the first three Tests. -AFP