It was ‘The Gabba‘ after all – an unconquerable Australian fortress where visiting sides had not won in the last 32 years.
The Indian team, however, thumbed its nose at that piece of history to record one of its greatest Test triumphs on Tuesday.
The three-wicket victory, which came with only three overs to spare, was a sensational and befitting climax to the series that saw India come through tough times to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The ‘sweet win’, as stand-in skipper, Ajinkya Rahane put it, came on the back of three exceptional performances as skills and thrills were supplied in good measure by Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant.
Several top Indian players missed the Brisbane Test. The win underlines the power of the collective and the importance of bench strength. However, injury management remains a concern at a time when formidable England is scheduled to arrive soon.
The last time when India had won the series back 2018-19 with a similar margin (2-1), the experts kept pointing at Steve Smith and David Warner’s absence. The experienced Aussie batsmen had been banned for their role in the ball-tampering controversy.
What makes this success sweeter is that Smith and Warner were both part of the team on this occasion and what’s more, India were without their regular captain Virat Kohli and their first choice bowling attack.
Unlike the past, where most Indians would look to bat out the last day to eke out a draw, this team has shown its intent to chase targets. They came close in Sydney but pulled it off in Brisbane.
Opener Gill had set the tone with his compelling 91, while Cheteshwar Pujara took several blows on his body to hose down the fire breathing Aussie quicks with a patient 56 and Pant carried his team home with a gritty 89.
India benefited greatly from Pujara’s presence in the middle. The batting mainstay was the anchor Team India depended upon to keep them afloat. He faced 211 deliveries and was involved in two crucial partnerships, first with Gill (114) for the second wicket and then with Pant (61) for the fourth wicket.
Pujara copped almost a dozen hits to his body. He was struck on the head, arms, shoulders, and had pieces flying from his helmet. Only once did he grimace in pain when a rising Josh Hazlewood delivery crashed into his knuckles. But the 32-year-old kept soldiering on, soaking all the pressure for his partners and in the process tired the Australian bowlers out.
Pant made sure India were within reach of the target with his calculated approach. The 23-year-old playing in his 18th Test, took debutant Washington Sundar under his wings after Mayank Agarwal was dismissed as the game headed into the last hour. He was lucky to get a let-off by Australian skipper Tim Paine, who messed up a stumping opportunity provided by Nathan Lyon in the 69th over.
Pant struck nine boundaries and a six in his 138-ball effort. The left-hander added 55 runs with Sundar, who once again impressed with his calm demeanour in the heat of the battle.
With seven overs remaining and another 50 needed, Sundar hooked Pat Cummins for a six and then carved him over the slip cordon for a four.
There were a few anxious moments when Sundar fell while attempting a reverse sweep off Lyon and Shardul Thakur too departed while attempting to hit the winning runs off Hazlewood.
01:34Record-breaking India clinch Australia Test series in Gabba thriller
But the cool and clam Pant straight drove Hazlewood to complete an astonishing win for India.
Earlier, it was Gill who played a prominent role in setting the tempo. His innings of 91 – also his personal best – was a masterpiece of timing and placement.
IN PICS: India win Gabba thriller, claim Test series 2-1
Rishabh Pant unleashed a Twenty20-style batting assault to blast India to an incredible three-wicket win in the fourth Test decider on Tuesday. (Getty Images)