New Delhi: Sixteen wickets fell on an absorbing Sunday at the Feroz Shah Kotla, the last four of which were lost by India en route to a six-wicket win over Australia that sealed their first 4-0 series win in their 473rd Test, revenge for the whitewash in Australia last year.
Starring with the ball was left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, whose maiden five-wicket haul helped bowl Australia out for 164 on day three, thus setting India a target of 155. Victory was achieved with Cheteshwar Pujara hitting his second fifty of the match as opener to anchor India's jittery chase, further proof that he is the present and future.
Taking a cue from MS Dhoni, Shane Watson opened the innings with spin from both ends. This was met with a couple wristy boundaries from Murali Vijay before he strangely opted to play a reverse sweep and was bowled through the legs for 11 by Glenn Maxwell. Pujara was nowhere as reckless, and used his feet well to collect fours and doubles as the target was whittled away. India's 50 came up in 52 deliveries, and the 50 stand at run-a-ball. Pujara eased to his second fifty of the match off 54 deliveries, and so assured was his innings that it completely took the turning surface out of the equation.
However, Lyon was not done and removed Virat Kohli (41) and Sachin Tendulkar (1) both lbw to finish with nine wickets in the match. Ajinkya Rahane capped a forgettable debut by lofting Maxwell to deep midwicket for 1 as India lost three wickets for five runs, and it could have been worse had Matthew Wade held onto an edge off Dhoni's bat second ball. Pujara hastened victory by hitting Maxwell for three successive fours to move to 82 and Dhoni scored the winning runs with a four past midwicket.
India had been put on course for victory in the morning session, in which they reduced Australia to 89 for 5 after being bowled out for 272. Australia opened with Maxwell instead of Ed Cowan but the move flopped as Jadeja produced a terrific delivery in his first over, the fifth of the innings, which spun past Maxwell's forward prod and hit off stump. Effectively, Australia were 5 for 1. That became 10 for 2 when David Warner fatally played back to a fast skidder from Jadeja, who was off in celebration even before the umpire could adjudicate an easy lbw decision.
Phillip Hughes became the third batsman to fall with the score on 41, trapped lbw by R Ashwin who made Hughes his 28th wicket of the series. With the ball gripping and turning it was only a matter of time before Pragyan Ojha struck, though he was aided by an ambitious shot from Watson who rocked back to pull a delivery that landed in line with the stumps and stayed low to crash into middle. Moments later, Jadeja picked up Cowan for 24, struck in line with the stumps. Australia's lead was just 43, with half the side down.
Jadeja struck in his first over after lunch, as Steven Smith shouldered arms and was bowled by an arm ball. Very next ball, Mitchell Johnson drove loosely and heard his stumps clatter, giving Jadeja his maiden five-wicket haul in his fifth match.
Peter Siddle averted the hat-trick and took the score past 100 with a flurry of boundaries off Ashwin and Jadeja, but the chokehold was not about to be lessened. Wade - who had been dropped on 9 by Dhoni off Ashwin - was stunningly taken by the Indian captain off Ojha, lunging to his right to come up with the catch and then breaking the stumps for good measure. The ninth-wicket stand worth 35 ended when James Pattinson inside-edged Ishant Sharma onto his stumps and Siddle was the last man out for a 45-ball 50, stumped off Ashwin. In reaching 50, Siddle became the first No. 9 to top-score in both innings of a Test match.
Earlier, India's innings had lasted just 13 balls with Lyon taking the last two wickets in successive deliveries to claim 7 for 94 as India added just six to their overnight total. Ishant was bowled for 0 when playing down the wrong line, and very next ball Ojha was hit plumb in front of the stumps while going back. Neither Ishant nor Ojha had made an impact on the scorecard, with India's six runs coming via two leg byes and a boundary to Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Lyon's haul was just the tenth time an Australian bowler had claimed seven or more in an innings against India.