The last time India won a Test series 3-0,back in 1993-94 against Sri Lanka,M S Dhoni was a student at DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir in Ranchi,and Duncan Fletcher was busy devising Zimbabwes first car registration system in Harare. On Monday,immediately after India sealed Australias fate in Mohali,Dhoni was out in the middle uprooting a souvenir stump,and Fletcher was rushing towards him with coiled fists and guttural yells.
In that moment,the 64-year-old showed more emotion than he had during his entire two-year tenure as Indias chief coach. Dhoni by contrast,remained as composed as he had during his innings. As the final day of the third Test headed to a nervy finish,the captain hurried the end,striking three consecutive fours off Mitchell Starc,taking India home by six wickets with 16 balls to spare.
In terms of the margin of victory,the Mohali numbers may not seem as convincing as the 9-wicket win in the first Test at Chennai and the innings and 135-run thumping at Hyderabad. But for a match reduced to 12 sessions by a washout on day 1,and in which Australia posted a 400-plus score in the first innings,it was remarkable.
Chasing a target of 133 in 36 overs on Monday,India werent always on course. In the 33rd,with 17 still to get off 22 balls,Sachin Tendulkar ran himself out. With India four down and Shikhar Dhawan unavailable due to an injured finger,spectators at the PCA stadium fidgeted nervously.
Then came five boundaries two from Ravindra Jadeja in seven balls,and India were through. Im not a gambling man but the stakes were very high, the Indian captain said later. We had everything to lose and nothing to gain. Had Australia got early wickets and considering we dont bat well between numbers 7 and 11,it would have given Australia a chance to come back into the series.
His Australian counterpart agreed. Look,I still believed we could win going into the final session. Thats how we Aussies play the game. Our bowlers have plenty to be proud of, Michael Clarke said at the press conference.
We left everything out there,but the difference between the two sides was Shikhar Dhawan.
Although he did not play a role in Indias second innings,Man of the Match Dhawan had impacted his debut Test decisively in the two explosive sessions on day 3,in which he went from 0 to 185 and took his team from 3 to 283.
It remained,for Indian fans,the most delightfully unexpected occurrence of the Mohali Test right till the end. Until the usually docile Fletcher came charging out.