Indian team poses with the Border Gavaskar trophy after winning the series against Australia. Pic/PTI
Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane and opener KL Rahul lead India to a comfortable 8-wicket win over Australia on Day 4 of the fourth and final Test to clinch the series 2-1.
India, chasing their target of 106, scored 107/2 with KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane unbeaten on 51 and 38 respectively.
Lokesh Rahul scored his sixth fifty in Test cricket. Cheteshwar Pujara was dismissed for a rare duck today.
KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane. Pic/ AFP
Fittingly, Rahul finished the match with a hard-run three and celebrated wildly. Regular skipper Virat Kohli, who sat out of the contest due to a shoulder injury, and the rest of the Indian team gave Rahul a standing ovation.
Ravindra Jadeja. Pic/PTI
In fact, Rahul ran in towards the Australian dressing room before taking off his helmet and letting out a wild war cry -- an indication of how intensely the series had been fought.
But putting aside the hostilities that started with the infamous 'Brain Fade' of rival captain Steve Smith, the two teams shook hands at the end of an aggressively-fought series.
Rahul's innings of 76 balls had nine fours while Rahane hit four boundaries and two huge sixes of Pat Cummins. It brought the curtains down on a very productive home season in which India won 10 out of the 13 Test matches with two draws and the only defeat coming on a Pune dust-bowl against Smith's side.
The victory was even more special as skipper and team's premier batsman Kohli was unavailable in the deciding contest. A reticent Rahane, completely different in character from Kohli, marshalled his resources well in what could be termed as the best out of the 13 Test wins.
Kuldeep Yadav. Pic/PTI
More so because the conditions were more Australian than Indian and the home team punted on rookie Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, risking a batsman less in the playing XI.
The day started with a Rahul back cut off Josh Hazlewood followed by a square cut. A swept boundary off Steve O'Keefe set the tone for the day and an imperious pull shot off
Hazlewood showed why Rahul is rated so highly. Once India were 46 for 2, Rahane came in and showed uncharacteristic aggression, taking on the bowlers from word go.
Cummins was pulled and then slashed over the cover region for a couple of sixes, leaving the entire Australian team stunned.
A paddle sweep off Lyon by Rahane was a delicate one after the brutal assault he unleashed on the speed merchant.
The Australians managed to surprise with their resolute performance given that they didn't have a lot of experience of playing in the sub-continent save skipper Steve Smith and opener David Warner, who was terribly out of form.
For India, a massive gain to be drawn from the victory is the team's resolve in the absence of batting mainstay Kohli. Kohli's injury-forced ouster from the Dharamsala Test gave an opportunity to test how the side performs in an adverse situation and the home favourites did not disappoint.
That India won the series despite minimal contribution from Kohli's bat also speaks volumes of the temperament of some of the youngsters in the team.
The takeaway certainly would be Cheteshwar Pujara's lion-hearted batting. He scored 405 runs with a hundred and two half-centuries and averaged 57.85.
But Rahul stamped his authority as the most exciting Indian batsman of recent times with 393 runs at an average of 65.50. Rahul did face a barrage of short balls from Pat Cummins, a few hitting his body but he is a content man.
With inputs from PTI