History created: India shock Australia, clinch final Test and series 2-1
India shocked hosts Australia to complete a victory for the ages after they scored 324 runs on the final day of the fourth Test at the Gabba to win their second series on the trot Down Under.
The visitors ended their innings at 329/7, having been set 328 to win on a pitch known to trouble batsmen, particularly on the final day of the match.
Needing just 69 runs off the last 15 overs with six wickets in hand to win the series-deciding Test, India completed the task with three wickets still remaining – Rishabh Pant remained not out on 89 with Navdeep Saini who did not face a ball.
At the final drinks break, India were 259 for four, with Rishabh Pant on 51 and Mayank Agarwal nine, chasing 328. But soon after, Agarwal fell to Pat Cummins for nine.
A rapid 22 from 29 by debutant Washington Sundar and quick runs from Pant had already taken India within two boundaries of victory when Sundar was cleaned up by off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
Although Australia made another breakthrough, Josh Hazlewood getting the wicket of Shardul Thakur for 2, it was not enough to stop the inevitable. Pant smashed Hazlewood to the long-off boundary for four to score the winning runs.
The highest successful run chase at the Gabba before this was 236 for seven, which Australia scored to beat the West Indies in 1951.
Earlier, India Cheteshwar Pujara survived a brutal onslaught from the Australian pace attack as the series-deciding fourth Test hung in the balance at tea on the final day at the Gabba on Tuesday.
Australia are so far unbeaten at Brisbane’s Gabba since 1988, and suffered their first home Test series defeat by India two years ago. The series is currently locked at 1-1.
Australia took two wickets after lunch, with Shubman Gill falling for a superb 91 and skipper Ajinkya Rahane a quickfire 24.
Pujara was hit 10 times during the first two sessions as Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood tried to exploit a perceived weakness to short balls at the body.
He took blows to the fingers, arm, ribs and helmet during a searching examination of his technique. But he was able to hang in as the batsmen at the other end scored freely and ate into the target.
Gill was magnificent on a fifth-day wicket, smashing the Australian bowlers to all corners of the ground. He hit eight fours and two towering sixes in his 146-ball innings before he became Nathan Lyon’s 398th Test victim, edging an arm ball to first slip where Steve Smith took a sharp catch.
With Pujara putting down the anchor at one end, Rahane raced to 24 from just 22 balls.
But trying to glide a Cummins short ball over the slips, he only managed to get a faint edge to Australian ‘keeper Tim Paine to leave India 167 for three.
India started the morning on four for no loss after bowling Australia out for 294 just before rain stopped play late on the fourth day.
Australia’s hopes of a series-clinching victory were raised early when Cummins drew Rohit Sharma forward to a ball that caught the outside edge, Paine taking a fine diving catch in front of first slip.
But the wickets have been few and far between and at tea both teams still have a chance at winning. The highest run chase to achieve victory at the Gabba is the 236 that Australia scored to beat the West Indies in 1951.
But as India have shown since their disastrous capitulation in the first Test in Adelaide, when they were bowled out for 36, they are never out of the contest.
The four-Test series is tied at 1-1 with Australia winning the opening Test in Adelaide and India fighting back to claim the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne and batting through the final day in Sydney to secure a draw.
Their effort in the fourth Test is even more admirable considering the high injury toll on tour.
Their bowling attack was led by Mohammad Siraj, who debuted in Melbourne, supported by Navdeep Saini, Shardul Thakur, T. Natarajan and Washington Sundar, who had two Tests between them heading into Brisbane.
They were also missing captain Virat Kohli, who went home after the first Test to be with his wife for the birth of his first child.
The tourists are without the services of front-line seamers Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Japrit Bumrah and regular spin bowlers Ravi Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin. (AFP inputs)