India Seals Series Win Against Australia With Game to Spare

India beat Australia by six wickets in the third cricket Test in Mohali to go 3-0 up in their best-of-four contest and regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Virat Kohli top-scored with 34 and home captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni smashed three straight boundaries to help India pass the victory target of 133 with 15 balls remaining yesterday. Australia was earlier dismissed for 223 in its second innings as India’s spinners took the seven remaining wickets on day five.

India, which was swept 4-0 in Australia in 2011-12, will now seek to win four Tests in a series for the first time when the teams get to Delhi for the final match starting March 22. The Australians have now lost six straight Tests in India.

“We’ve played really well and exploited the conditions,” Dhoni said at the presentation ceremony after finishing 18 not out. “Everybody has contributed at some point. I’m very happy with the performance. We may try a few things in Delhi but it is important to win Test matches, especially at home.”

With his team needing 45 runs from the final mandatory 15 overs, Kohli took India within 30 runs of its target before getting out. That brought Dhoni to the middle with Sachin Tendulkar, who was run out for 21 to leave India 17 runs short with 22 balls left.

Stump Souvenir

Ravindra Jadeja hit two fours following Tendulkar’s dismissal to leave India needing nine runs from the final three overs. Dhoni dispatched the next three balls to the boundary before grabbing a stump as a souvenir.

“We’ll continue to learn,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said. “We certainly improved in this Test match. We’re disappointed that we lost the game but hopefully we can finish on a high in Delhi.”

India’s win in Mohali came even after the entire first day was lost to rain and Australia’s opening batsmen put on 139 runs, the team’s highest first-wicket stand in a Test in India.

Shikhar Dhawan was named as the man of the match after smashing the fastest debut century in 136 years of elite Tests. The right-hander, who reached three figures off 85 balls, top-scored with 187 and shared a 289-run opening partnership with Murali Vijay to help India amass 499 in reply to Australia’s first-innings 408.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Dhawan said. “When I entered, I was nervous. Once I got my rhythm I just played my natural game. I will cherish this all of my life.”

Bhuvneshwar Kumar led the home bowlers in the second innings with 3-31, with left-arm spinner Jadeja picking up 3-35. Phil Hughes top-scored with 69 for Australia, while Mitchell Starc was out for 35 after combining with Xavier Doherty to hold up India with a 44-run stand for the last wicket.

Watson Returns

Australia vice-captain Shane Watson, who went home for the birth of his first child after being among a group of four players suspended for the match for disciplinary reasons, is rejoining the squad for the final Test.

Watson, fast bowlers James Pattinson and Mitchell Johnson, and batsman Usman Khawaja were all stood down for failing to submit feedback on how they and the team could improve after heavy defeats in the first two games. Clarke said he may miss the Delhi match because of a de-generative back injury and backed Watson to return to the lineup as stand-in captain.

Starc, who also made 99 in the first innings and took two wickets in Mohali, will miss the series finale and instead fly home for surgery to remove bone spurs on his right ankle, Cricket Australia said today.

“He could have continued playing but we want to take a proactive approach in managing Mitch to have him fit for the Ashes series in England,” Australia coach Mickey Arthur said in a statement.

The first of two Ashes series this year begins July 10 in the U.K. before the teams play another best-of-five contest in Australia from Nov. 21.

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