India clinched yet another series over Australia as the fourth and final Test ended in a tame draw in Ahmedabad on Monday. The 2-1 win plus Sri Lanka losing an absolute thriller to New Zealand in the opening Test in Christchurch booked India's passage into the final of the World Test Championship (WTC) for the second successive edition.
Rohit Sharma's men had already retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by winning the first two Tests. However, the reversal in the third Test in Indore sparked new life into the contest.
Australia rode on opener Usman Khawaja's epic 180 to amass 480 on a docile track at the Narendra Modi Stadium in the series decider. The left-handed Khawaja made sure the tourists did not let go the advantage of winning the toss. He was ably supported by all-rounder Cameron Green who smashed his maiden Test hundred. The 70-run stand for the ninth wicket between tailenders Nathan Lyon and Todd Murphy meant India needed to bat really well to thwart the Aussies.
The Indian batters did the job as they added 50-plus stands for the first six wickets. Opener Shubman Gill underlined his growing stature by compiling a classy 128. Virat Kohli ended a 1,205-day century drought as he notched up a magnificent 186. Axar Patel continued his fine run with the bat by scoring a breezy 79. The 162-run stand between Kohli and Patel put the pressure right back on Australia as the home side gained a 91-run lead despite Shreyas Iyer not coming out to bat due to back pain.
However, the visitors batted out the final day without much trouble to salvage a draw.
If the first three Tests played on turners ended well inside three days, the featherbed in Ahmedabad meant a draw was the only possible result. Only 21 wickets fell over five days.
It was India's fourth straight series win over the Aussies - two each at home and away. As expected the spin duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja played key roles, by picking up 47 wickets, in India's triumph. The performance of the Indian lower order consisting of Ashwin, Jadeja and Axar too had a big impact on the outcome of the series.
Australia could head home with their head held high. They fought hard deslite going 0-2 down and being plagued by injuries. Steve Smith, who stood in for regular captain Pat Cummins in the final two Tests, led admirably.
The two sides will clash again in the WTC final at The Oval from June 7 in entirely different conditions. Rohit & Co. will have their task cut out against the Australian pace attack.