Ahmedabad, March 13 (IANS) The fourth Test between India and Australia has ended in a draw at the Narendra Modi Stadium, with the hosts’ winning the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series 2-1 and retaining the trophy at home.
With more than an hour left on the clock for the game to end, both teams called for the match to end, as it reached the inevitable result of draw, as India pocketed their 16th consecutive series win at home. Also, it is the fourth straight series between India and Australia that has ended at 2-1 scoreline.
India and Australia will meet again in the World Test Championship final at the Oval in England from June 7-11. India’s spot was sealed after New Zealand beat Sri Lanka by two wickets in a thrilling last-ball finish at Hagley Oval.
It was a Test match in Ahmedabad where the batters were dominant on a slow, flat pitch, completely opposite of the spin-friendly pitches in the first three Tests, which all ended in three days.
Despite that, ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took a six-wicket haul. Usman Khawaja, and Cameron Green notched up centuries for Australia, while Shubman Gill made a sparkling 128 and Virat Kohli made a magnificent 186 for India.
On Monday, with the draw looming as a foregone conclusion, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne notched up fifties as Australia reached 175/2 before the end arrived as hopes for an unlikely win for both teams terminated.
Twenty minutes into the first session, Ravichandran Ashwin had Matthew Kuhnemann lbw with an off-break delivery which went past his forward defence to smash into the front pad. Replays later showed Kuhnemann could have survived if he had taken the review.
With not much in the pitch to create trouble for the batters, Marnus Labuschagne comfortably came down the pitch to hit Ashwin through mid-wicket for four. Travis Head also joined boundary hitting when he cut a short ball from Ravindra Jadeja through off-side.
Labuschagne used his feet again when he lofted Ashwin over mid-wicket for four, followed by Head making use of width from Jadeja to fetch another boundary. Though India got something as the ball began to show some tricks, there was no stopping Head, who danced down the pitch to slam a six off Ashwin straight down the ground.
Head then tore into Axar Patel, taking back-to-back boundaries off him – a straight drive was followed by a punch leading to an edge past the slip fielder. He and Labuschagne played out the remaining overs in the session comfortably to ensure Australia didn’t suffer any more damage.
Post lunch, Head reached his fifty when he guided a delivery from Axar past slip for four to take Australia towards safety. He then launched into Ashwin – a flick through mid-wicket for four was followed by a lofted six slammed down the ground. With the bowlers tiring, Head was turning out to be aggressive with his slogs and cuts.
Labuschagne looked comfortable with the pitch not doing much and easily put away anything offered on pads by Umesh Yadav for boundaries, before reaching his fifty with a brace through square leg.
Head was firmly on the verge of his sixth Test century, but Axar got one to spin sharply and go past the inside edge on the drive to clip the top of off-stump. Labuschagne went into the tea break unbeaten on 56, while Steve Smith is yet to get off the mark after KS Bharat dropped his catch on the last ball of 62nd over.
After tea, Smith slammed a boundary each off Ashwin and Jadeja. He then put up another defensive clinic with Labuschagne for company till the draw arrived, bringing an end to a fascinating series which saw India retaining the trophy, before Australia fought back in Indore and Ahmedabad produced a batting paradise for both teams to be tied down in a draw.
Brief Scores: Australia 480 in 167.2 overs and 175/2 in 78.1 overs (Travis Head 90, Marnus Labuschagne 63 not out; Axar Patel 1/36, Ravichandran Ashwin 1/58) draw with India 571 in 178.5 overs