India Beats Australia in Boxing Day Test to Retain Border-Gavaskar TrophyCricket

December 31, 2018 10:37
India Beats Australia in Boxing Day Test to Retain Border-Gavaskar Trophy

(Image source from: India TV)

The Indian cricket team on Sunday took giant strides towards winning their first ever series on Australian soil in seven decades by retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with a thorough 137-run victory in the third Test.

Taking an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series, India will retain the sought-after trophy even if the series is drawn level at Sydney as they have won the previous series at home in 2017.

It took only 27 balls on the fifth-day post lunch as Jasprit Bumrah (3/53) and Ishant Sharma (2/40) accomplished the formalities in what turned out to be India's 150th Test victory.

After losing out the first session due to a steady downpour, Australia could only pull off to add three runs to their overnight score of 258 for 8 as they were all out for 261 in 89.3 overs.

India, therefore, won a Test match at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground after 37 long years when Sunil Gavaskar's men beat Greg Chappell's side in the 1980-81 series.

Fittingly it was the legendary Kapil Dev, who had at that time played a major role taking five wickets in defending a low total though it was young Bumrah with match figures of 9 for 86, who was the hero on what looked like a docile track.

Bumrah got rid of Pat Cummins (63), who edged to first slip and brought an end to his heroic effort in this Test.

Five balls later, Ishant Sharma got rid of Nathan Lyon (7), caught behind as Rishabh Pant took his 20th dismissal in this series, which is highest by an Indian wicket-keeper.

For Bumrah, 48 wickets in his debut Test season is highest by any pace bowler and also is a testimony to a lethal pace trio involving the veteran Ishant Sharma and the wily Mohammed Shami (2/71), who as well played his part well.

The trio has collectively taken 134 away wickets (Bumrah 48, Ishant 40 and Shami 46) in a single calendar year outshining the 34-year-old record that stood in the name of the fearsome West Indies trio of Michael Holding, Joel Garner, and Malcolm Marshall (130 wickets in away tours in 1984).

No wonder skipper Virat Kohli was glad and attributed their triumph to their ability to complement each other.

"We knew that it would be tough for Australia, but credit to our bowlers, especially Jasprit. The three fast bowlers have broken the record for most wickets by pacers in a calendar year for a team, which is brilliant," Kohli was all praise for his speed merchants.

"I certainly feel proud as a captain when they bowl in partnerships. No one is looking to out-bowl each other. Our first-class cricket is amazing, which is why we won. Credit must go to first-class set-up in India, which challenges our fast bowlers in India, and that helps them abroad," the skipper said.

Even Bumrah spoke about how India's first-class set-up has him a better bowler.

"My aim is to always focus on consistency. We train very hard and we are used to bowling a lot of overs in Ranji Cricket, so the body is doing well. My focus is on the next Test now," said Bumrah.

Having got only better since his debut in South Africa, Bumrah is hopeful that better things await for him in near future.

"It was always a dream to play Test cricket and I was really happy when I debuted in South Africa. I started learning slowly, in England it was a different experience. Coming to Australia has been a different experience as well. The start has been good, and hopefully, I will keep getting better," the bowler said.

Bumrah's skipper is confident that his men won't take their feet off the pedal and win the series 3-1.

"We are not going to stop here. This (win) will give us more confidence and we will play more positively in Sydney. I think we have been really smart in all the departments in the two matches that we have won," Kohli said.

"That is the reason we have at least retained the trophy but job is not done yet. It's not finished at all. We want to win the last Test match as well if an opportunity comes our way. We don't want to be complacent. We are all but ready for the final Test match," he added.

By Sowmya Sangam

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India  Virat Kohli  Border-Gavaskar Trophy