Dharamsala, March 28:
India defeated Australia by eight wickets in the fourth and final Test at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) Stadium here on Tuesday to clinched the four-match series 2-1 to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Lokesh Rahul hit a half-century and guided the hosts to victory along with stand-in captain Ajinkya Rahane after the early departure of Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara.
Rahul remained undefeated on 51 while Rahane was not out on 38.
Fittingly, it was Rahul who hit the winning runs, guiding a delivery from left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe to the on-side.
Needing 106 runs for the win, the Indians reached the target around 90 minutes and 17.5 overs into the first session of the fourth day.
Fast bowler Pat Cummins got the only wicket of the day when he claimed Vijay’s wicket while Pujara was run out thanks to an excellent piece of fielding by Glenn Maxwell.
The hosts resumed at the overnight score of 19/0 and Vijay survived a scare in the very first over of the day when Australian pacer Josh Hazlewood came up with a couple of lbw appeals off consecutive balls.
The Indians got their first runs of the day in the next over when an O’Keefe delivery to Rahul turned sharply, evaded the bat and outfoxed Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade before reaching the boundary.
Rahul was in excellent form, taking the battle to the Australian bowlers although Vijay continued to struggle at the other end.
Rahul got a lucky boundary when he tried to go after a Hazlewood delivery outside the line of his off-stump but only managed to offer an outside edge. The ball however, went between the slips and the gully to give Rahul his first boundary of the day.
The Karnataka batsman however, shook off the nerves with two boundaries off O’Keefe in the next over. He produced another superb shot off the backfoot to hit Hazlewood to the midwicket boundary a couple of overs later.
The visitors hit back by taking two wickets in the next over.
Cummins, who replaced O’Keefe in the attack, dismissed Vijay with the first ball of the over when the Tamil Nadu right-hander went after a delivery which slightly outside the off-stump only to offer an easy edge to Wade.
Pujara came in and played just five balls before some poor running between the wickets and a axcellent direct hit from Maxwell which knocked out the middle stump forced him to return to the pavilion.
But that was the only bit of success the Australians would manage to celebrate as Rahul and Rahane batted aggressively to guide India to victory. (IANS)