History was created at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium on Sunday when the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led India inflicted a 4-0 ‘Brownwash’ on Australia on the third day of the fourth Test. India’s aggressive approach paid dividends as the hosts carved out a six-wicket victory. The spinners, spearheaded by left-spinner Ravindra Jadeja (5 for 58), were instrumental in seizing the moment for India before Cheteshwar Pujara (82 no, 94b, 10x4) sealed victory, making light work of a achievable 155 on a wicket that continued to have turn and bounce. That target was possible, thanks to the stubborn Peter Siddle, who became the first number nine batsman to hit successive half-centuries in a match.
Although it was a modest target doubts were raised because of the vagary of the wicket. But Pujara showed exemplary temperament to guide India home. The ‘make-shift’ opener started with a flourish and ended with a flurry of strokes to signal a famous victory. Dhoni hit the winning runs, smashing Nathan Lyon to mid-wicket boundary.
India suffered a mid-innings jitter. Murali Vijay played a horrendous shot, a reverse sweep, to be bowled. Pujara and Virat Kohli (41) raised 104 for the second wicket to take the sting out of a possible Aussie fightback. The two took Lyon for special treatment to put India on road to victory. However when Kohli fell to Lyon (lbw), Sachin Tendulkar came to a thunderous ovation but lasted for eight balls and then new man Ajinkya Rahane too departed but Dhoni and Pujara wrapped up the series in style.
There was plenty of drama in the morning session. Australia needed 10 deliveries to wrap up the remaining two Indian wickets. Lyon picked up his wicket number six by bowling Ishant Sharma and in the next ball, he trapped Pragyan Ojha in front to give the Aussie off-spinner his career-best bowling figures of 7 for 94. India managed only a 10-run lead.
Australia’s top order continued to stumble. In a desperate gamble skipper Shane Watson sent Glenn Maxwell to open with David Warner. But there was no change in the script and soon they were in a deep hole at 94 for 7. In walked Siddle, who yet again took the fight to the opposition. Siddle repeatedly pierced the off-side field with lovely drives. He took the score from 97 to 164 before getting out to a wild shot. Ashwin tricked him by bowling wide to be stumped. His 50 came off 45 deliveries.
It was 24-year-old Jadeja who stole the limelight for India. Bowling wicket-to-wicket and sticking to the basics, Jadeja had the Aussies in a spin. The left-arm spinner opened the door for an Indian win. Opening the bowling with Bhuvneshwar, he began his wicket-taking spree by scalping Maxwell, who was bowled. Warner had no clue to an armer to be lbw. Australia slipped further losing three more wickets before lunch to reel at 89 for 5. Left-hander Phillip Hughes was beaten by the turn and the ball hit his back leg and off-spinner Ashwin got a favourable lbw decision.
Watson chose the wrong ball from Pragyan Ojha to be bowled off his pads. Left-hander Ed Cowan, who was batting steadily, was done in by Jadeja with the ball skidding through to hit his pads. India tightened the noose on Aussies after resumption. In the second over after lunch, left-hander Mitchell Johnson did not offer any stroke to be castled, giving Jadeja his fifth wicket and career-best figures. It was Jadeja’s 24th wicket in the series, a commendable effort for one who came into the side as an utility all-rounder. Matthew Wade too did not last long as he fell to the guile of Ojha.
It looked like curtains for Aussies but the tail frustrated India again. Siddle batted sensibly. Dhoni made bowling changes. Ashwin bowled short and Jadeja lost some of his sting. Ishant Sharma was brought in to get the breakthrough with his reverse swing. The fast bowler was hit for 12 runs in his first over before he brought one in sharply to disturb left-hander James Pattinson’s middle stump.