Rishabh Pant leads India to historic win
India withstood an all-out assault by Australia to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a record-breaking run chase in a stunning three-wicket win in the fourth Test at the Gabba.
Set an imposing target of 328 to win, India started day five at 4/0 and batted with courage, discipline and poise, Rishabh Pant sparking scenes of wild jubilation when he hit the winning runs with just 18 balls remaining.
It was the highest Test total ever chased down by a team in a fourth innings at the Gabba, and Australia’s first Test loss at the ground since 1988. Pant, unbeaten on 89, and Navdeep Saini (0*) were the batsmen at the crease as India finished on 329/7 to win the series 2-1.
Cheteshwar Pujara’s courageous knock of 56 from 211 balls was emblematic of the grit, determination and spirit displayed by the undermanned tourists, who lifted the trophy despite missing a host of star players.
The No.3 was subjected to a barrage of punishing short deliveries, particularly from Pat Cummins (4/55), but he remained stoic despite copping repeated blows to the head, chest, arms and fingers.
While Pujara was the rock for India, Shubman Gill was the showman. The opener belted two sixes and eight fours on his way to 91 before Nathan Lyon coaxed an edge that was well taken by Steve Smith at first slip.
It was Lyon’s 398th Test wicket, but the coveted milestone of 400 eluded the master spinner, who finished his 100th Test match on 399 wickets with figures of 2/85.
India showed intent to pursue a famous win rather than settle for a draw right from the resumption of play on the final day. Cummins struck in the first session, with Rohit Sharma (7) caught behind, but India were 83/1 at lunch as Pujara and Gill combined for a 114-run partnership.
Ajinkya Rahane replaced Gill and made a quick-fire 24 from 22 deliveries before he feathered a Cummins short ball to Tim Paine, with India 183/3 at tea. A grandstand finish befitting the enthralling series beckoned in the final session, with India needing 145 runs to win while Australia had to take seven more wickets in the remaining 37 overs.
Paine missed a stumping opportunity when Pant advanced down the pitch to Lyon, but Cummins rose to the occasion yet again. India needed 100 runs from the remaining 20 overs, but Pujara’s brave resistance ended when Cummins trapped him in front with the second delivery of the new ball.
The tension ratcheted up several notches when Cummins struck again to remove Mayank Agarwal (9) with 63 runs needed from 13 overs. Washington Sundar chimed in with 22 and Shardul Thakur departed for two, but the damage had been done, Pant stroking a four to long-off to seal an incredible win.