Indore, March 3 (IANS) Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne slammed unbeaten 49 and 28 respectively to take Australia to a comprehensive nine-wicket win over India in the third Test at Holkar Stadium on Friday.
Day three’s play began with Australia needing 76 runs to win on a minefield of a pitch. Despite losing Usman Khawaja early for a two-ball duck, Head and Labuschagne were able to make short work of the target and got the job done in 18.5 overs to make the four-game scoreline 2-1.
The victory also means that Australia have qualified for the World Test Championship final, to be held from June 7-11 at The Oval in London.
The day began with Ravichandran Ashwin getting an outside edge on Khawaja’s forward defence and KS Bharat catching it behind. Khawaja went for a review, but replays showed a healthy spike on the UltraEdge, giving India some relief.
A fiercely determined Ashwin asked tough questions of Head and Labuschagne and even took a DRS against the latter when Virat Kohli, at leg-slip, took a diving catch, which resulted in India burning a review.
After some quiet overs as Australia were just 13/1 in ten overs, Head broke the shackles by whacking Ashwin over mid-on for four and followed it up with a huge six down the ground in the 11th over where India had got to change the ball.
Head welcomed Ravindra Jadeja by hammering a four over his head and Labuschagne ended the over by sweeping the left-arm spinner through mid-wicket for another boundary in the over.
When Ashwin overpitched, Labuschagne quickly brought out the cover drive for a delightful four. When Jadeja sent in an arm ball, Head played the cut late through backward point for another boundary.
Ashwin was taken apart in the 15th over, as Head danced down the pitch to punch through cover while Labuschagne placed a reverse sweep well through backward point to make it two fours in the over.
India introduced Umesh Yadav in the bowling attack as a last throw of dice. But Head and Labuschagne were unstoppable; the former slapped the Vidarbha pacer through cover while the latter pulled past square leg to make it two boundaries.
When Ashwin pitched up, Head smacked down the ground for four. Labuschagne finished off the chase in style by dancing down the pitch and lofting past mid-on for four to take Australia to an emphatic Test victory in India, and their first in the country since the 2017 win in Pune.
Brief scores: Australia 197 and 78/1 in 18.5 overs (Travis Head 49 not out, Marnus Labuschagne 28 not out; Ravichandran Ashwin 1-44) beat India 109 and 163 by nine wickets