Rishabh Pant leads record-breaking chase as India beat Australia to fourth Test and series

Sport

A freewheeling Rishabh Pant has stormed Australia’s Gabba fortress in record-breaking fashion, helping India snatch a three-wicket win to cap one of the greatest Test series of the modern era.

A stoic Cheteshwar Pujara refused to release India’s four-year hold of the Border-Gavaskar trophy on a dramatic final day of the four-Test series, weathering 211 balls and 10 body blows while denting Australia’s hopes of victory.

Pujara’s vigil set the platform for Pant to complete a venue-record chase of 328. The dashing keeper-batsman made remarkably light work of the pressure-laden situation, bringing up the winning runs with a driven boundary off Josh Hazlewood.

Pant finished 89 not out, securing victory at 5.37pm (local time) with three overs remaining. “This is one of the biggest things in life right now,” man-of-the-match Pant said.

The once-in-a-generation defeat could have long-term ramifications – at a minimum it has clouded Australia’s path to this year’s world Test championship final at Lord’s.

It was a fatiguing and frustrating Tuesday for Tim Paine and Australia’s attack. The ignominy, for a range of reasons, may linger longer in their minds than the heartbreak at Headingley that Ben Stokes inflicted in 2019.

The highest successful chase in a Gabba Test was previously 236-7, which Australia completed in 1951, while this shock loss ended Australia’s 32-year undefeated run at the venue.

Paine cursed his team’s inability to close out a series win at multiple junctures after skittling India for a record-low total of 36 in Adelaide. “Absolutely disappointed,” Paine said. “India have outplayed us for the majority of the series and fully deserve to win the series.”

The wicketkeeper is also likely to bemoan a potential missed stumping when Pant was on 16, and a review that went within a whisker of removing Pujara for two. There will be questions asked about Paine’s captaincy, potential changes and Australia’s lack of ruthlessness.

There should also be praise for an inexperienced Indian XI that threw the kitchen sink at the hosts, refusing to buckle when severely under the pump on countless occasions in the series-deciding fourth Test.

Pat Cummins worked overtime throughout day five of the series-deciding fourth Test, snaring four of the first five wickets to fall to give Australia a fighting chance. But Cummins, who was named man of the series, lacked support as Shubman Gill (91), Pujara and Pant shifted momentum yet again in the topsy-turvy series.

“Here and in Sydney, the game was there to win on day five but we just didn’t take enough wickets,” Cummins said.

The world’s top-ranked bowler removed Pujara and Mayank Agarwal in a seven-over spell with the second new ball. Pant proceeded to steamroll his way to victory with some assistance from debutant Washington Sundar’s quick-fire 22.