New Delhi: Monday in Mohali marked the end of a 19-year run for India in which they failed to win three consecutive Test matches in the same series. The last time they achieved this was in 1994 when a Mohammad Azharuddin-led India beat Sri Lanka 3-0 when the islanders were not yet a force to be reckoned with in Test cricket.
Following victories in Chennai and Hyderabad to claim an unassailable lead, India were firm favorites to beat Australia - who had dropped four players and were without Matthew Wade - in the third Test. In the dying stages of day five at the PCA Stadium, MS Dhoni's team reclaimed the Border-Gavaskar Trophy by six wickets to achieve their first hat-trick of wins over Australia.
While India have won three straight Test matches across different series several times, it is significant to note that in a 471-Test history, it has only thrice managed to win three consecutive Tests in the same series: at home in 1993, when a second-rate England were battered 3-0, a year later when Sri Lanka toured, and now this hat-trick of wins over a depleted Australia, in fact the worst team from Antipodean shores to tour India.
For the first time since 1994, the Indian cricket team managed to win three consecutive matches in a Test series.
Before Monday, India last won three Test matches in a row (across series) in 2012; following a facile 2-0 win over New Zealand in August they beat England at Ahmedabad in November to take a 1-0 series win. Prior to that, India managed three consecutive wins in 2009-10; they beat Sri Lanka by an innings in Mumbai in December 2009 - the victory which confirmed them as No. 1 - and then went to Bangladesh and won 2-0 in January 2010. So while three straight matches may not appear a big deal - Australia won 16 successive Test matches twice in the last 13 years - it is for India.
In December, England consigned India to their first set of consecutive home Test defeats since 1999-2000. Wrapping up the series at Mohali, albeit against a very poor Australian team, can be seen as a significant achievement for transitioning side that has copped a lot of flak over recent months.
Will this 3-0 win prove a turning point in India's fortunes?