India recorded their first Test win on Australian soil in a decade on Monday in Adelaide to win the first match of the series Down Under for the first time ever.
Despite Australia’s impressive lower order resistance, India managed to sneak past the line by 31 runs as the hosts were dismissed for 291.
Chasing 323, the hosts were bowled out for 291 in 119.5 overs shortly before tea on day five with Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami taking three wickets each for a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
Rishabh Pant finished with 11 catches, and equalled the record for most dismissals in a Test by a wicketkeeper, sharing it with England’s Jack Russell and South Africa’s AB de Villiers.
Things went too close for comfort for India as Nathan Lyon (38 not out) and Josh Hazlewood (13) put on 42 runs for the last wicket and frustrated the Indian bowling. The sparse crowd at Adelaide Oval cheered every single as the duo edged closer and the odd boundary didn’t help matters.
Finally, things came to a close as Ashwin had Hazlewood caught at second slip in the 120th over to register India’s sixth Test win on Australian soil.
R Ashwin took the final wicket (and his first of the final day) to dismiss Josh Hazlewood in an extended second session.
India grabbed the key wickets of Shaun Marsh and Travis Head on the first session of the final day before Australia’s lower order frustrated Virat Kohli and Co.
Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon played fighting knocks after Tim Paine was dismissed early after lunch to cause some flutters in the Indian camp. Jasprit Bumrah got the wickets of Cummins and Paine while Mohammed Shami dismissed Starc.
It was more of the same on the final day, as we have seen during this Test, with batting not especially easy while the bowling was tight for long periods — the Indian pacers were rewarded for their hard work.
The hosts are chasing a target of 323, a score never before successfully achieved in a fourth innings run chase at the Adelaide Oval.
They resumed the final day of the opening Test needing another 219 for victory with four wickets down.
Head added just three runs to his overnight 11 and when Marsh fell for 60 to leave the Australians 156 for 6, the odds shifted heavily in India’s favour.
But by lunch Australia had fought to 186 for 6, still needing a further 137 runs for victory, with skipper Tim Paine not out 40 and Pat Cummins on five. Paine and Cummins battled hard during their partnership. India bowled well once again but the pitch wasn’t doing anything crazy, and batting didn’t seem hard for the ones who put their head down.
Mohammed Shami had 2 for 40 and Ravichandran Ashwin 2 for 71.
Marsh and Head started cautiously, grinding out 11 runs in the opening seven overs before seamer Ishant Sharma struck with the score on 115, bowling a bouncer that caught Head’s bat as he tried to fend it off and Ajinkya Rahane took the catch at gully.
Paine joined Marsh and they upped the ante, capitalising on some loose balls from Shami to steadily chip away and close the gap.
Marsh brought up a valuable 50 - his 10th in Tests – with a boundary from a pull shot off spinner Ashwin.
It was a much-needed knock for the left-hander, who was on a run of six consecutive single-figure Test scores, although he has been in scintillating form in domestic cricket.
But he didn’t last much longer with Jasprit Bumrah getting the big breakthrough as Marsh pushed at a perfectly angled delivery, getting a faint edge to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps.
Cummins, whose highest Test score is 50, survived two big reviews within four balls, with the technology both times going in his favour to keep Australia in the hunt.
Australia has been a tough place for India to tour. They have never won a series here and have tasted victory in only five matches in more than 70 years.
The last Test they won in Australia was at the WACA Ground in Perth in 2008, and the last one in Adelaide was in 2003.
(With AFP inputs)