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January 20, 2021

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Pant smashes India to series test win for the ages

Rishabh Pant unleashed a batting maelstrom to blast India to an incredible three-wicket win in the fourth test decider yesterday as Ajinkya Rahane’s injury-ravaged tourists humbled Australia with a 2-1 series triumph.

The pugnacious Pant timed his innings to perfection, ramping up the aggression in a stellar 89 as India stormed to a record 328-run chase at the Gabba and became the first team to beat the hosts at the Brisbane stronghold since the West Indies in 1988.

With regular captain Virat Kohli savoring fatherhood back home, India mowed down 145 runs after tea on day five to claim a win for the ages when Pant smashed Josh Hazlewood to the long-off fence with 18 balls to spare. “This is one of the biggest moments of my life now,” the wicketkeeper-batsman Pant said after being named Man of the Match.

With 21 wickets, Australia paceman Pat Cummins was Man of the Series yet Pant may have had a bigger claim.

His brilliant fourth-innings 97 in Sydney proved decisive as India saved the third test and set up one last push in Brisbane.

There were nonetheless heroes galore in the Indian dressing room, though not a single first-choice bowler at the Gabba.

There was two-test paceman Shardul Thakur and debutant allrounder Washington Sundar who grabbed 11 wickets between them, then combined for a courageous 123-run stand in India’s first innings to drag the team back from the brink.

Yesterday, there was three-test opener Shubman Gill contributing 91 after his senior partner Rohit Sharma fell for 7.

Cheteshwar Pujara stitched it all together, soaking up 211 balls in his obdurate 56 and wearing about a dozen body blows from Australia’s pacemen.

India retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, two years after beating Australia in the 2018-19 series Down Under, and also shot to the top of the World Test Championship.

This victory, however, was a far greater achievement as the previous series Australia lacked its best batsmen in Steve Smith and David Warner due to a ball-tampering scandal.

The jubilant scenes at the Gabba were also a far cry from the Adelaide opener when India was bowled out for 36, its lowest ever test innings, in a three-day thrashing. Yet the team rallied superbly to win in Melbourne and belief flooded after seeing off Australia in Sydney.


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