India scrape to tense win over Australia in 3rd Test

MS Dhoni was unbeaten on 18 off 28 balls, 12 of which came from the last three balls of the innings © PTI

Mohali: Mar 18, 2013
 
India left it late, but eventually went past the line in their chase of 133 in the third Test against Australia with 15 balls to spare.

The hosts looked set for a comfortable win with Virat Kohli (34) and Sachin Tendulkar (21) patiently going about the chase after the departures of Murali Vijay (26) and Cheteshwar Pujara (38). At 103 for two and about 10 overs to go to get 30 runs, the spectators at the PCA stadium wouldn’t have expected as tense a finish as they got.

Kohli played a loose shot to Peter Siddle (one for 34) and lost his wicket for a well-made 34. In walked Dhoni, the cool finisher. The Indian captain took his image a bit too far as he reduced the equation to 25 from 36 balls.

Eight more runs were added at the cost of 12 balls. Tendulkar then embarked on a suicidal run that never was and David Warner, one of the finest fielders in world cricket, made him pay with a Jonty Rhodes-esque run from short cover and lunge towards the stumps. 116 for four; seventeen runs required off 23 balls.

Ravindra Jadeja, the star with the ball, walked in at No 6. He had come into the Test side as a batting all-rounder, but will leave it having switched his primary craft. The 24-year-old came in with a purpose and eased the nerves of the crowd by lofting Siddle for four over mid-off and followed it up with a swat straight down the ground. Nine to win from 18.

It was here that Dhoni, on six off 25 balls, decided that he had had enough. Perhaps it was Jadeja’s aggression that gave the 33-year-old Indian skipper the confidence. Whatever it was, Dhoni ended the match in the next three balls with three powerful hits for four.

As the Indian dressing room erupted along with the partisan crowd, Dhoni calmly picked up a stump as a souvenir to a record-breaking win. The result meant that India took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Border Gavaskar Trophy, which also was the first time that they won more than three Tests in a series against Australia.

Earlier, Jadeja and the rest of the Indian spinners ensured that India were set a 133-run target with Australia being bowled out for 223 in their second innings.

The hosts gave themselves a minimum of 27 overs to chase down their target and they had to do it without the services of Shikhar Dhawan, who had injured his hand.
 
All seven Australian wickets to fall on the day were shared between Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Pragyan Ojha, who produced an inspired performance.

From 75 for three at the start of play, Australia were reduced to 179 for nine before Mitchell Starc and Xavier Doherty embarked on a gritty, frustrating last-wicket partnership.

The duo added 44 runs in 18.1 overs before Jadeja wrapped up the innings with the Australians on 223.
 
Earlier, Ojha dismissed nightwatchman Nathan Lyon (18) within the first 20 minutes of the day. The left-arm spinner’s delivery from around the wicket pitched on middle and spun enough to find the faintest of edges off Lyon’s bat, as skipper MS Dhoni snapped it up behind the sticks.

Michale Clarke, who did not come in to bat on Day Four due to a stiff back, then put aside all conjecture regarding his fitness by walking out at No 6. If there ever was a time when Australia needed Clarke the most, it was now.
 
However, Jadeja dismissed the Australian captain for the fifth time in this series as Australia were left reeling at 119 for five. It was a Saurashtra combination that sent Clarke back to the pavilion after scoring just 18 runs. The only consistent batsman in the Australian line-up tried to flick Jadeja’s straightner off his pads, but found the inside edge that was snapped up by Cheteshwar Pujara at short leg. It was a big blow for the Aussies, who would’ve needed Clarke to dig in longer along with Hughes, who was now left to wage a lone battle.
 
However, Hughes would last only three more overs, much thanks to a dubious call from the umpire. After a defiant knock of 69, most of which was spent shuffling across the stumps to negotiate the spinners, the left-hander was undone by an erroneous decision by Aleem Dar. Ashwin’s delivery was clearly missing leg-stump after pitching on middle-and-leg, but Dar upheld the appeal from the Indians. Hughes was understandably dejected as he walked back.
 
Jadeja then picked up his second wicket of the innings, that of Moises Henriques (2). This time, there was no element of doubt in the dismissal, which was completed by a superb diving caught-and-bowled. Jadeja’s length ball on the off-stump line was sent flying to the left of the all-rounder by Henriques, where the former took a superb catch with both hands.

The Australian No 9 for the innings, Peter Siddle, then launched a counter-attack of his own on the Indian spinners. However, after hitting a four and a six, Siddle misjudged the line of Ojha’s leg-spinner that went on to knock over his off-stump.

Mitchell Starc, who went agonisingly close to scoring a maiden Test century in Australia’s first innings, then stuck around with the experienced Brad Haddin till lunch was called.

Brief Scores: Australia 408 and 223 (Phil Hughes 53*, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3 for 31, Ravindra Jadeja 3 for 35) lost to India 499 and 136 for 4 (Virat Kohli 34, Cheteshwar Pujara 28; Peter Siddle 1 for 34, Xavier Doherty 1 for 24) by 6 wickets.

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