With every stroke, the Indian shoulders drooped. The Australians were clinical and ruthless in their run chase.
Despite losing Usman Khawaja early, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne ensured that the target of 76 was surpassed 45 minutes before lunch.
Labuschagne (28 n.o.) lofted R. Ashwin to the mid-wicket boundary to bring up a famous and comprehensive nine-wicket victory for Australia on the third day of the third Test in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, here, on Friday.
The left-handed Head, focused and fearless, tore into the Indian bowling on this pitch for a 53-ball unbeaten 49.
A few of his strokes were brutal in nature as the Indian spinners seemed to run out of ideas on a conducive pitch.
Champion off-spinner Nathan Lyon, with 11 wickets, including eight in the second innings, was adjudged Player-of-the-Match.
Going into the final Test in Ahmedabad, India still leads the series 2-1 but after batting capitulations in the first two Tests, the victory at the Holkar Stadium restored some of Australia’s pride.
Australia was rocked at the start. Khawaja fell in the first over, a beautifully flighted ball from Ashwin that turned just enough to find the outside edge of the southpaw.
Labuschagne survived some anxious moments early on but gathered himself to guide Ravindra Jadeja to the point fence.
There were two slips for Jadeja, apart from a silly point. The only choice before Rohit Sharma was to attack.
Gradually, Australian batters began to find their feet. Head jumped down and struck Ashwin over mid-wicket.
Like Jadeja, Ashwin had two men in the slips. However, the left-handed Head was unfazed. He pushed a fuller delivery from Ashwin through wide mid-on for a four, finding the gap in the process.
He then dismissed a flighted delivery from Ashwin over wide long-on for the maximum. Soon, he glided Jadeja to the fence.
Head’s bat-speed from a relaxed stance is his strength. He’s compact but generates enormous power with a quick swing of his willow. A victory was less than 40 runs away.
Labuschagne reverse-swept Ashwin to further whittle down the target. With his composure and solidity, Labuschagne gives confidence to his teammates.
Slowing down the game
Apart from keeping his end safe, Labuschagne also slowed down the game, by taking small breaks for some issue, real or otherwise, in his leg, and stopping the spinners as they were about to deliver.
Ahead of the Test, the Aussies had spoken about slowing down the proceedings since the Indian spinners, Jadeja in particular, were hustling them by providing very little gap between deliveries, preventing the batters from preparing for the next ball.
Umesh Yadav was introduced after drinks but when he provided width, Head smashed him to the cover fence. The galloping Australia had now crossed the 60-run mark. Victory was just a few hits away.
One of those blows arrived when Labuschagne pulled Umesh past the ropes.
Soon it was all over. The brave Aussies had fought back with typical tenacity.