Result: India beat Australia by 6 wickets to lead the series 3-0 and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
The Third test of the India-Australia Test Series 2013 was a lot more competitive than the first two tests- thanks to plenty of grit shown by the Aussie bowlers on the final day- with bat and ball.
And while Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. could have finished things off a lot earlier, this was Mohali- the venue where Indian Test Cricket had taken a massive leap towards the no. 1 ranking in 2008- with VVS Laxman finally displaying a human side in the company of the edgy Pragyan Ojha during the famous 1-wicket win that began Australia’s freefall. Also, there is no justice in the world- with only a few thousand fans showing up on a Sunday to watch an India v/s Australia test match as if it were a Ranji game- yet India’s most undeserving venue gets its second down-to-the-wire classic in a row.
Despite the first day being washed out due to rain, India managed to force a result- one of the rare occasions it has done so without Sehwag in the lineup. The report card for the Indian Test Team, sitting pretty in home conditions, is as follows:
Shikhar Dhawan (9/10)
The most unexpected and powerful test debut in years. All those years in domestic cricket made him forget that he was facing an international bowling attack (?), and he blasted his way to the quickest debut test century. He is the prime reason behind India’s test victory- forcing a result with his quick scoring ways. His second innings miss due to injury, though, will trouble his momentum.
Murali Vijay (8.5/10)
Apart from the slightly daft dismissal in the second innings where he was trying to push the scoring rate, getting stumped to Doherty, Vijay played his role to perfection once again- displaying rare maturity while Dhawan was going bonkers on the 3rd day. His temperament is finally coming together.
Cheteshwar Pujara (5/10)
Rare lean game for India’s most prolific scorer. A dubious first-innings decision was followed by a careless second-innings missed-hook to Lyon- a shot that could worry him a lot more in South Africa if he doesn’t figure it out. Not very convincing at bat-pad, but being groomed despite the slow reactions and dropped catches. Will definitely cash in at Delhi.
Sachin Tendulkar (5.5/10)
Almost ended up as the villain responsible for a draw being forced upon his team- after his pre lunch shutdown on day 4 defied logic, as did his dismissal against rookie Steve Smith. Still showing signs of waning form after a first-test blast, and his run-out during the chase was brought on more due to his own lack of composure than Dhoni’s inability.
Virat Kohli (6.5/10)
Played a lone first-innings knock towards the end, taking India to 499- before calming Indian nerves during the chase with a classic display of cover drives to keep the runrate up. Was dismissed against the run of play once again- like at Mumbai against the Windies in a commanding position. His slip-catching was one of the worst in recent history.
MS Dhoni (5/10)
Good wicketkeeping apart, his batting almost let his team down till Ravindra Jadeja came in and smashed two fours of Siddle in the closing stages. Tried to hard to push things, and looked out of sorts against Starc’s probing line. Surprisingly, he pushed for a result with his teammates, for once.
Ravindra Jadeja (7/10)
Another consistent performance with the ball- 6 wickets in the match– with the icing on the cake his crucial batting blast towards the end of the final day, giving some impetus to India’s stalled chase. He could be the bowling all-rounder that India needs in home conditions. His three triple tons for Saurashtra are now a myth.
R. Ashwin (7/10)
Bowled extremely well throughout the game, only let down by the slip and close-in catchers. Troubled most batsmen with his variety- and the dismissal of Haddin in the second innings came at the right time for his team- with a beauty of a doosra that forced the final result. He would still like to be more consistent while trying to bowl out tailenders- and must understand that different rules apply to them.
B. Kumar (7/10)
Purely for his 4th day 3-wicket haul, and the ball of the match that dismissed first innings hero Steve Smith. He regularly takes wickets with the new ball, even teaching a lesson or two to Ishant.
Ishant Sharma (5/10)
Finally took wickets in a brilliant first-innings reverse-swing spell, but failed to make any penetration in the second innings when his team needed him the most. Forgot how to bowl at the stumps by the end.
Pragyan Ojha (6/10)
Replaced Harbhajan, but would have liked to make more of a splash than he did- only playing a support act to the main duo of Ashwin and Jadeja. Took crucial wickets in the first innings to quicken the Aussie collapse.
Duncan Fletcher (12/10)
Only for displaying emotion and proving that he is not, in fact, a wax statue at the end of the game..