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Rishabh Pant masterclass guides India to incredible fourth Test win at the Gabba

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19th January, 2021
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India have become the first side since the West Indies in 1988 to win a Test against Australia at the Gabba, a Rishabh Pant masterclass guiding them to a famous victory and retention of the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

Pant finished unbeaten on 89 off 138 balls and hit the winning runs off Josh Hazlewood even as India lost a number of late wickets which threatened to derail their celebrations.

Washington Sundar, who put on 53 with Pant for the sixth wicket, attempted a reverse-sweep off Nathan Lyon with only ten runs to get, only to glove the ball onto his stumps and give the spinner his 399th Test wicket.

Shardul Thankur, after top-scoring for the tourists in the first innings, added to the tension when he was caught off Hazlewood with three to get, but after crossing before the catch Pant was able to drive a yorker down the ground for a series and match-winning boundary two balls later.

Pant himself had been given a life, Tim Paine missing a stumping chance in the half-hour following tea, but while his usual brand of attacking batsmanship brought with it some risk, that was the only clear opportunity Australia had to take his wicket.

The wicketkeeper-batsman took time to get himself set after tea, before opening up in the final hour alongside Washington to calmly and methodically work their way to the target.

Rishabh Pant of India bats

Rishabh Pant. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

Coming into the final session of the series all three results were still on the cards, India needing 145 runs from 37 overs and Australia needing seven wickets.

It was a better position than the hosts might have hoped for an hour or so earlier. While they started the day well with Pat Cummins removing Rohit Sharma for seven, Cheteshwar Pujara joined Shubman Gill and the duo put on 114 for the second wicket.

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It was a partnership of two distinct approaches, Pujara batting in his usual dogged, determined manner while Gill scored far more freely, taking a particular liking to the wayward Mitchell Starc.

The 21-year-old cruised to his half-century and a maiden Test hundred looked all but certain, only for Lyon to drift a ball into Steve Smith’s hands via the outside edge when Gill was on 91.

While Pujara continued to blunt the attack, taking a number of fearsome blows to the body from Cummins and Hazlewood in the process, captain Ajinkya Rahane came out still looking to win the match.

The skipper went at better than a run a ball for his 24 and looked entirely comfortable before trying to cut Cummins when the ball was too close for the shot, giving Paine a simple catch behind the stumps.

In a further sign of India’s matchwinning intent, Pant was promoted up to number five ahead of Mayank Agarwal.

It took some seventeen overs of the final session and the introduction of the new ball for Australia to find their next breakthrough, Cummins getting one to nip back with the second delivery with the new rock to trap Pujara in front.

Agarwal didn’t last too long in an uncomfortable stay at the crease, caught at cover the over after the final drinks break, but Washington was able to partner with Pant to great effect and dash any hopes of a last-ditch win for Australia.

Cummins was outstanding in a losing effort for Australia, finishing with 4-55 from his 24 overs, but he lacked support from the rest of the attack, with Lyon bowling too straight early in the day and Starc providing little to no control, conceding 75 runs from his 16 overs, including 20 in a single one.

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Pant was unsurprisingly awarded man of the match for his last-innings knock, while Cummins was handed player of the series, having taken 21 wickets at an average of just over 20 across the four Tests.

India 336 (Shardul 67, Washington 62; Hazlewood 5/57) & 7/329 (Gill 91, Pant 89*; Cummins 4/55) def Australia 369 (Labuschagne 108, Paine 50; Natarajan 3/78) & 294 (Smith 55, Warner 48; Siraj 5-73) by three wickets