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India secures historic test series win on Australian soil

January 7, 2019
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India's Virhat Kohli, left, is presented the Border–Gavaskar Trophy by Allan Border after their series win over Australia after play was called off on day 5 of their cricket test match in Sydney, Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. The match is a draw and India wins the series 2-1.(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

SYDNEY (AP) — India celebrated an historic test series victory in Australia after the weather-affected fourth match at the Sydney Cricket Ground finished in a draw.

Captain Virat Kohli’s team entered the final day with hopes of a 3-1 series victory and also its first win at the SCG since 1978, but rain meant there was no play on Monday and umpires called it off early. The draw gave India a 2-1 series win.

“A very proud moment,” Kohli said. “More so because for the last 12 months we understand what we have gone through as a team, we understand the kind of cricket we have been able to play.

“But the fact that the reward has come in the most historic series for Indian cricket is the cherry on the top of the cake.”

Six hours of play was also lost on Sunday because of poor weather, but Kuldeep Yadav still had time to take his second five-wicket haul in tests as India rattled through Australia’s lower order with only a late 42-run rally by Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood taking the hosts to 300 for just the second time this series.

Marcus Harris top-scored for the hosts with 79, Australia’s highest individual score in the series.

Leading by 322 runs, Kohli had little hesitation in enforcing the follow-on and Australia reached six without loss in its second innings — with Harris unbeaten on two and Usman Khawaja on four — when bad light stopped ended play on day four.

The last time Australia was required to follow-on at home was in 1988 against England at the SCG, a match which finished in a draw.

“We’re really disappointed,” Australia captain Tim Paine said. “We know we had some guys missing but we honestly felt coming into this series that in Australia, we could beat India.

“Throughout the series, more often than not when those big moments came up, Virat (Kohli) scored a century or (Chetweshwar) Pujara scored one or (Jasprit) Bumrah bowled a great spell and got them through those moments.”

India, which only needed to avoid a defeat here to clinch the series, effectively ended this match as a contest by scoring 622-7 declared over almost two full days after Kohli won the toss and batted. Man-of-the-series Pujara (193) scored his third century of the tour and Rishabh Pant made 159 not out as the India squad demonstrated it was a class above an Australian team weakened by the absence of the banned senior batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner.

Underscoring the current malaise of Australian cricket without its star players, Australian batsmen have scored only one century — Khawaja’s 141 against Pakistan in Dubai — in a year, while India had five centuries in this series alone.

“Clearly, we know we’re not going to win too many test matches without scoring hundreds,” Paine said. “But when guys are in their third, fourth test matches, it’s hard. We had so many starts, throughout this series, it’s just the experience of learning how to convert them.”

India won the first test at Adelaide by 31 runs and last week’s Boxing Day test in Melbourne by 137 runs to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

Australia won the second test in Perth by 146 runs.

Harris’ series-high score of 79 for Australia made it the first first time in any test series of three or more matches since 1958 that a team had a highest score below 80, according the Australian Associated Press.

It was also the first time ever Australia has gone through a four-test home series without a single batsman scoring a century.

While India goes home to celebrate its first test series win here in 12 attempts, Australia’s selectors have a matter of days to consider an overhaul of the Australian batting lineup for the upcoming two-test series against Sri Lanka in Brisbane and Canberra.

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