India have pulled off a record run-chase in a thrilling final session to hand Australia their first defeat at Brisbane’s Gabba ground since 1988 and clinch the four-Test series 2-1 to win the Border-Gavaskar trophy. Wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant starred with a swashbuckling 89 not out as the injury-depleted visitors overhauled the 328-run target with three overs to go, winning by three wickets on the last day of the series on Tuesday.
Australia had not been beaten at the Gabba since falling to Viv Richards’ all-conquering West Indies side by nine wickets in November 1988. India’s 329 for seven also smashed the 69-year-old record for the biggest run-chase at the Gabba, set by Australia who scored 236 for seven to beat the West Indies in 1951.
After never winning a Test series on Australian soil until 2018-19, India has now done it twice on consecutive tours Down Under. The four-Test series had been tied 1-1, meaning India needed only a draw to retain the trophy. The series win is a remarkable achievement considering India were bowled out for their lowest score of 36 to lose the first Test in Adelaide, before bouncing back to win the second in Melbourne.
The visitors, ravaged by injuries and captain Virat Kohli’s absence for paternity leave, then batted throughout the final day to draw the third Test in Sydney. “WHAT A WIN,” Kohli tweeted.
Man-of-the-match Pant, who played a similar innings in the drawn Sydney Test, blasted his 89 from 138 balls with nine fours and a six. His innings followed an equally impressive knock from 21-year-old Shubman Gill, who made 91 at the top of the order earlier in the day.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s 56 was also vital, the gritty number three hit 10 times by Australia’s quicks, taking blows to the fingers, arm, ribs and head as he was subjected to a searching examination by Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. Cummins with 4-55 was easily the pick of the Australian attack, sending down 24 overs of pace and hostility, but the rest of the bowlers looked fatigued after bowling all day in Sydney just eight days ago.
Despite Australia’s fearsome record at the Gabba, the Indian batsmen did not look interested in playing for a draw, even after losing the wickets of Pujara and Mayank Agarwal after tea. Pant took advantage of any loose ball, but also played some outrageous strokes, showing the influence T20 cricket has had on Tests.
India started the morning on four for no loss after bowling Australia out for 294 just before rain stopped play late on the fourth day. Australia’s hopes of a series-clinching victory were raised early when Cummins drew Rohit Sharma forward to a ball that caught the outside edge, Tim Paine taking a fine diving catch in front of first slip. But as India have shown since their capitulation in Adelaide, when they were bowled out for 36, they are never out of the contest. Their effort in the fourth Test is even more admirable considering the high injury toll during the tour.
India’s bowling attack was led by Mohammed Siraj, who debuted in Melbourne, supported by Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan and Washington Sundar, who had just two Tests between them heading into Brisbane.
The tourists were without the services of frontline seamers Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah, and regular spin bowlers Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin.