India win by six wickets, retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy

New Delhi: Riding on left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja’s best bowling figures in an innings in Test cricket (7/42) along with Ravichandran Ashwin’s spin masterclass, India defeated Australia by six wickets in the second Test within three days to take 2-0 lead in the four-match series and retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, here on Sunday.

Ashwin set up the collapse to pick 3/59, before Jadeja ran through the Australian batting line-up as Australia crashed to 113 all out, after starting the day from 61/1 and being 86/2 at one stage, in their second innings. The Australian batting implosion gave India a target of 115, which they completed in 28.4 overs.

Rohit Sharma began the chase by driving wide of mid-on for a boundary off Matthew Kuhnemann in the opening over. But in the next over, he lost his opening partner KL Rahul in an unlucky fashion. Rahul flicked well to the right of short leg off Nathan Lyon, but the ball lobbed up in the air after hitting the top of forward short leg’s pad and the keeper took an easy catch.

Rohit showed exquisite timing in whipping an overpitched delivery off Kuhnemann between deep mid-wicket and long-on. Post lunch, India began with an attacking intent, as Cheteshwar Pujara danced down the pitch to whip Matthew Kuhnemann through mid-wicket for four.

Rohit came out in the next over to loft over wide mid-wicket for six off Lyon, followed by paddling off him for four more. The Indian skipper then danced down the pitch against Kuhnemann, slamming a six over the bowler’s head but he was run-out in a horrible mix-up and sacrificed himself to keep Pujara at the crease.

Pujara and Virat Kohli were positive in their footwork, defence and got the boundaries too. While Pujara danced down the pitch to loft Lyon over mid-on, Kohli got close to the ball and used his supple wrists to chip a drive past the off-spinner. He followed it up with a gentle tickle through fine leg and placing a flick between two fielders in the square leg region.

Kohli fell for 20 when he was beaten through the air and on the outside edge by Todd Murphy and was stumped from behind by Alex Carey. Pujara and Shreyas Iyer continued to get boundaries on a fast clip — while the former was pristine in punching off Murphy, the latter was splendid in cutting off Lyon and dancing down the pitch against Murphy to get four and six respectively.

In a bid to attack against Lyon, Iyer danced down the pitch again for an expansive slog, but holed out to deep mid-wicket. KS Bharat was gorgeous in driving twice through the extra cover against Lyon and Kuhnemann.

He would go on to drive through cover again off Kuhnemann for boundary and brought the crowd on its feet with a slog-sweep over deep mid-wicket for six off part-timer Travis Head. Pujara, playing in his 100th Test, finished off the chase by dancing down the pitch and flicking over mid-wicket to give India another victory in the series.

Australia will be mighty disappointed by some extremely questionable shot selection and squandering the advantage they had at stumps on day two. Resuming from 61/1, with a healthy run-rate of 5.08 at the end of day two, Australia imploded spectacularly to lose nine wickets for 53 runs in a frenetic morning session.

They were playing the sweep and reverse sweep as if this was the only way to play against spin on a pitch which had variable bounce and turn, with six of their batters falling to sweeps, conventional as well as reverse.

Head began the day by driving wide of cover against Ashwin. But two balls later, Ashwin got Head to come forward and fox him by getting the ball to turn in late and take a faint inner edge behind to Bharat.

Marnus Labuschagne then took two boundaries off Ashwin — a paddle through fine leg was followed by reverse sweep going wide of backward point. Ashwin had trapped Labuschagne lbw, but India lost the review as replays showed impact of the delivery being outside of off-stump.

Ashwin got success when Steve Smith tried to sweep big off him. But the ball stayed low, and turned in from outside the off-stump to hit him in front of stumps. Smith went for a review, but the decision was in India’s favour as replays showed the umpire’s call on hitting the leg stump.

From the other end, Jadeja struck by castling Labuschagne with an arm-ball that kept low and with the right-handed batter on backfoot, the ball skid through to take out the off-stump. More trouble followed Australia as Matthew Renshaw fell lbw to Ashwin while going for an expansive sweep.

Peter Handscomb, who made 72 not out in the first innings, came forward for a drive off Jadeja. But the ball turned and took the outside edge to Kohli for a sharp first slip catch. On the very next ball, Pat Cummins tried to slog-sweep off Jadeja, but was castled for a golden duck.

Carey became Jadeja’s fifth victim when he missed the ball on his pre-mediated reverse-sweep, and saw his leg-stump being knocked over. Jadeja then got his sixth wicket when Nathan Lyon went for a big drive, but the ball took the thick inside-edge to knock over leg-stump and finished off the innings by having Kuhnemann chop to the stumps off a reverse sweep.

Brief scores: Australia 263 and 113 in 31.3 overs (Travis Head 43, Marnus Labuschagne 35; Ravindra Jadeja 7/42, Ravichandran Ashwin 3/59) lost to India 262 in 83.3 overs and 118/4 in 28.4 overs (Rohit Sharma 31, Cheteshwar Pujara 31 not out; Nathan Lyon 2/49, Todd Murphy 1/22) by six wickets.

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