The Fourth Test against India and Australia ended in a draw with Australia 175/2 in their second innings when the result was declared.
After the first three tests in the series had been dominated by spin, all three of them finishing inside three days, this was a complete contrast, with the flat pitch in Ahmedabad offering little hope to the bowlers.
Still India are celebrating, not only because they have won the Border-Gavaskar trophy by two matches to one, but also a significant result elsewhere means that they have now qualified for the WTC (World Test Championship) final for the second time.
There they will play Australia at the Oval in three months’ time, the tourists having already clinched their place after their victory in the Third Test in Indore.
Following that match, there was much speculation as to what pitch might await the sides in Ahmedabad. Whilst India have made no secret of the fact that they want to play on turning pitches at home because it plays to their strengths, things went too far in Indore. The ICC in their match report subsequently labelled it poor, and gave them three demerit points.
Instead, the ground staff in Ahmedabad produced a pitch that was ideal for batting, and, in the course of the match, more than 1,200 runs were scored, for the loss of just 22 wickets.
At least for the first time in the series, those people who had bought tickets for the fourth and fifth days of the match actually got to see some play.
New Zealand do India a favour
India went into the match knowing that they needed to win to guarantee themselves a place in the WTC final. Defeat would open the door to Sri Lanka, provided that they could win both their tests away against New Zealand.
In the event though, it was New Zealand, who beat India in the first final in 2021 in Southampton, who did the Indians a favour. They beat Sri Lanka in the final over of their first Test in Christchurch, to settle the matter beyond any doubt.
It means that India now have a major date in the calendar to which they can look forward, although they will know that conditions in England in June will be vastly different to those that they have recently experienced.
Although the result in the end proved almost academic in the grand scheme of things, there were also some good performances on both sides.
For Australia, opener Usman Khawaja became the first batter to spend over ten hours at the crease by making 180 in their first innings, whilst Cameron Green scored his first test century. The stand of 208 between the pair was the backbone of their first innings score of 480 all out.
Any hopes, though, that they might be able to bowl out the home side cheaply, were quickly ended, as Shubman Gill continued his fine form this year by making 128, whilst Virat Kohli scored his first test century since 2019, making 186.
With India holding a 91 run lead on first innings, there was brief hope that they could yet force a result.
Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne, though, snuffed that out with a stand of 139 for the second wicket in Australia’s second innings, before Head fell for 90.
Labuschagne and captain Steve Smith got soma later batting practice, but with the tourists 175/2 in their second innings and with no realistic prospect of a result on either side, the two skippers shook hands on the draw.
This was generally not a match for bowlers, but Ravichandran Ashwin strengthen his position as the number one ICC rated test bowler by taking 6 – 91 in Australia’s first innings and seven in the match.
Labuschagne was unbeaten on 63 at the time.
What happens next
The two sides now have a three match ODI series to look forward to, which begins in Mumbai on Friday (March 17th). That is followed by games in Vizag and Chennai.
That will be the last set of international fixtures for both sides before they resume hostilities at the Oval on June 7th. In the intervening period, there is all the thrills and spills of the Indian T20 franchise league to come.
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