India moved into an unassailable 3-0 series lead by beating Australia by six wickets, just managing to reach their target in time, on the final day of the third Test in Mohali.
Australia resisted bravely before being dismissed for 223 in their second innings to set India 133 to win, which they achieved despite a few scares along the way.
They shuffled the batting order, opening with Cheteshwar Pujara (28) and Murali Vijay (26) before sending in Virat Kohli (34) ahead of Sachin Tendulkar (21).
In the end, however, it was Mahendra Singh Dhoni, unbeaten on 18 and Ravindra Jadeja, on eight, who ended Australia's valiant fight with an unbroken partnership of 20 in eight balls - five boundaries hammering them to victory.
Australia started the day on their overnight score of 75 for three, still 16 runs adrift of India's first innings total, with Phil Hughes and Nathan Lyon continuing their vigil at the crease. They couldn’t overhaul the lead when the first wicket of the day fell, Lyon snapped up by Pragyan Ojha. He scored 18 runs off 48 balls, with three fours.
Michael Clarke had been declared fit enough to bat and he came out at number five, where he batted in the first two Tests, but this didn’t work either for Ravindra Jadeja now has his number. He dismissed the Australian skipper for a fifth time in the series, out for 18 runs off 53 balls, as the umpire adjudged him caught bat-pad off a faint edge.
Four runs later, Ravichandran Ashwin trapped Hughes LBW, in what was another dubious decision, and the Australian fightback had nearly ended with three wickets gone down in the first 90 minutes.
Hughes scored his highest innings of the tour so far, 69 runs coming off 147 balls. He hit 11 fours and one six. Thereafter, by the time the lunch bells rang out, two more wickets had fallen. Moises Henriques (2) caught off a superb return catch by Jadeja and Peter Siddle (18) bowled straight-up by Ojha.
After lunch though, India had to wait for their chance to bat as the two wickets added 80 runs to the total. Brad Haddin (30) and Mitchell Starc put up 36 runs for the ninth wicket, and then Starc (35) added another 44 runs with Xavier Doherty, who remained unbeaten on 18.
Ashwin trapped Haddin in front and Jadeja finished the innings when Starc was caught, with Australia bowled out for 223 runs. The lead of 132 runs meant that India needed to chase 133 runs for a win.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the best bowler on display with three for 31, while Jadeja followed up his first-innings haul with another snatch of three for 35. Ashwin (2-72) and Ojha (2-46) were the other wicket-takers.
In a manner of speaking, India made heavy weather of their chase. Shikhar Dhawan was injured whilst fielding, and Pujara opened the innings with Murali Vijay. The opening partnership was worth 42 runs, but wickets kept falling in regular intervals thereafter.
Vijay (26) was the first to go, stumped off Doherty (1-24), while Pujara (28) was second out, LBW to Lyon (1-27). The score at that time was 70 for two and India still had ample time when Virat Kohli (34), who had come to bat at number three, and Sachin Tendulkar (21) were together at the crease.
However, they were out within 13 runs of each other, as Dhoni was scraping at the other end. Jadeja came to the crease after Tendulkar's ill-timed run-out and the pair smacked five fours in seven balls to take India home.
Select quotes from the day:
Michael Clarke: "Great to see the progress the team has made. We fought well to put up a good first innings score of 400-plus and then we fought well again with the ball in India’s second innings. All credit must go to India though and they played well enough to win in just four days.
"Shikhar Dhawan played a great innings on debut. We should have attacked him more and didn’t execute our plans very well.
"My back injury has flared up again. We will see if I can play and contribute in the Delhi Test. If not, Shane Watson will lead in my absence. We want to win a game before we leave and it will not be a dead rubber for us."
Mahendra Singh Dhoni: "It was close at the end. The stakes were high. We really wanted to win this Test. But 4-0 is too far ahead, we are not thinking of it. This isn’t a revenge series.
"Shikhar played very well for a debutant. Great to see that he played his natural game, but he may not play the Delhi Test because of injury. Australia batted well in first innings but they should have attacked us more. If they had done so, we wouldn’t have been able to respond, because there was no help in the pitch on that day."
© Cricket World 2013
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