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  • India v Australia, 4th Test, Delhi, 3rd day

Jadeja, Pujara lead India to historic series win

The Report by Sidharth Monga
March 24, 2013 « Conor McGregor: I'll shock world & steal Sweden show | Chartbeat test »
India 272 (Vijay 57, Pujara 52, Jadeja 43, Lyon 7-94) and 158 for 4 (Pujara 82*, Kohli 41) beat Australia 262 (Siddle 51, Smith 46, Ashwin 5-57) and 164 (Siddle 50, Cowan 24, Jadeja 5-58) by 6 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Cheteshwar Pujara played another key role © Associated Press
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The final day of the series, in Delhi, resembled one of those when a crazy colourful storm from Rajasthan visits the capital. While the storm is there, it is all encompassing, and promises apocalypse. Soon, though, it blows over, and you cannot tell it had been there.

For about the first 200 minutes of the day, it was mayhem: spiteful spin, altercations, posturing, surprises, send-offs and some statesmanship. Twelve wickets fell for 170 runs, Nathan Lyon and Ravindra Jadeja registered their personal bests, Peter Siddle became the first No. 9 to score two fifties in a Test, but India got through the 155-run chase with shockingly consummate ease to win four matches in a series for the first time in their Test history.

Cheteshwar Pujara, opening the innings in the absence of Shikhar Dhawan and fighting a finger injury of his own, led the chase with his second fifty - 82 off 92 - which on this pitch must rank alongside one of his double-centuries. It might have been made to look simple, but it wasn't always thus.

Lyon, who had removed Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha with the last two deliveries of India's first innings, nearly had his hat-trick. M Vijay charged at him first ball of the innings, but the ball turned way down the leg side, and Matthew Wade missed the half chance.

In the next over, Pujara survived a close lbw shout, with a soft outside edge helping him. In the next over, Vijay was bowled while reverse-sweeping. That was the closest Australia came to having a chance.

Pujara and Kohli batted as if the events of the past two-and-a-half days didn't matter at all, as if the bunsen had lost all its fire. Which it hadn't; it was just clear-minded decisive batting on a spitter, making full use of every loose ball on offer. There were drives, there were ramps, there were sweeps. From Australia there were loose balls, overthrows and misfields.

A minor blip interrupted India's progress as three wickets fell for five runs to reduce India to 128 for 4, a period during which Sachin Tendulkar failed in possibly his last Test innings at home. Pujara, though, refused to acknowledge all this, bringing India level with three successive fours, and let MS Dhoni, whose grey beard bears the traces of two previous whitewashes of India, finish the rest.

Enough of this drive on a clear sunny day. Back to the storm. Back to when there were skirmishes even before teams had crossed the rope. Over who should set foot on the field of play first. That resolved, Australia took the last two wickets in no time, restricting India's lead to 10.

Australia tried to surprise India by opening with Glenn Maxwell alongside David Warner. In the absence of batsmen technically equipped to fight it out on this pitch, such aggression against the new ball was perhaps the best way to go. Surreal scenes followed: Jadeja bowling to Maxwell in the fifth over of a Test innings. It didn't last. In his first over, Jadeja got one to turn, stay low, hit the outside edge of Maxwell's bat and canon into the off stump.

With an assured and aggressive innings, Ed Cowan showed it was probably not the best move after all to demote him. He capitalised on every loose delivery, and hit five fours in his 24, one of them a superb drive through midwicket after stepping down to Jadeja. All hell broke loose at the other end, though.

Jadeja trapped Warner with a dart, and the Indian fielders let rip with a choreographed and long send-off. Warner has been the sledger-in-chief from Australia, and has been in the ear of the Indian batsmen since the start of the second innings of the match. There is also a previous to this from the time India toured Australia, so that wicket would have brought Virat Kohli, in particular, and Jadeja natural and massive relief, and they just let it show.

The umpires, though, spoke to Tendulkar, who in turn, tapped Jadeja's shoulder a bit. With seemingly an appeal every ball, an explosion off the pitch every second, and a sledge every third, the umpires were under intense pressure. Amid some incredible calls, Aleem Dar erred with the Phillip Hughes lbw, with R Ashwin's offbreak turning past off.

It was all Dhoni after that. First through Jadeja, a player he has backed when few did. Jadeja removed Cowan before lunch, and Steven Smith and Mitchell Johnson just after. The latter strikes were crucial as Smith and Wade had added 41 for the sixth wicket. His first ball after the break was a slider that Smith left alone to hit his off stump. The next turned through the gate and knocked Johnson's middle stump over. Australia 94 for 7.

Siddle not only survived the hat-trick ball, he - much like Pujara - seemed to have brought his own pitch to bat on. He went on a sensational counterattack, charging down to the spinners and clearing mid-off, and cover when mid-off was sent back, regularly. He looked as comfortable as any specialist batsman did on this track.

Around him, though, Dhoni put on an exhibition too. Wade advanced to Ojha, was beaten by the dip, edged it onto the top part of his pad, and as the ball died to his right, Dhoni changed direction and not only completed a one-handed take, he proceeded to break the stumps just in case the umpire had missed the edge.

Siddle was not too bedazzled. His assault continued. Back to Dhoni then. He gambled. He brought Ishant on. The first nine balls Ishant bowled went for 12 runs. With James Pattinson, Siddle had now added 35 for the ninth wicket to take the score to 157. Then Ishant went round the stumps, and got one to reverse through Pattinson's gate. Dhoni had worked again. Fittingly, as with the bat, he ended the innings with a stumping off a ball that could have been called a wide had it been bowled with restrictive intent.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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