Five things we learned after India defeated Australia 2-1 in Test series

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Five things we learned after India defeated Australia 2-1 in Test series
Ravindra Jadeja led the hosts' bowling strike force.

New Delhi - Relations between the old foes have always been testy


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Published: Wed 29 Mar 2017, 4:59 PM

Last updated: Wed 29 Mar 2017, 7:03 PM

Relations between the old foes have always been testy, from the infamous "Monkeygate" scandal in 2008 to Virat Kohli showing Australian fans the middle finger four years later, but a bad-tempered series has exacerbated the animosity. From Virat Kohli accusing his fellow captain Steve Smith of systematically abusing the decision review system, to Smith calling Murali Vijay a "#*%*#&@ cheat", flare-ups have never been far away. Repeated verbals between the two teams ensured that games were frequently on the edge. Perhaps the big difference was the final day, when the beaten Smith apologised for his indiscretions, but Kohli said the Australians were no longer his friends - and India snubbed Australia's offer of a conciliatory drink.
The Indian talisman came into the series in sparkling form and was expected to run the Australian attack ragged but he endured a rare flop, proving that he's not invincible after all. The 28-year-old scored a record-breaking four double centuries in the four previous series but managed only a miserable 46 runs in his three matches before withdrawing with a shoulder injury. "King Kohli", despite his nickname, slumped to scores of just 0, 13, 12, 15 and 6 in his five innings. But the captain's failure with the bat proved that India aren't reliant on him for runs and threw up some unlikely heroes, most notably Cheteshwar Pujara and Lokesh Rahul. Pujara scored a tireless 202 across more than 11 hours of play in Ranchi, while Rahul hit six half-centuries in the series to give the hosts valuable top-order runs against a probing Australian pace attack.
There were question marks over the Australian bowlers' ability to adapt to Indian conditions as they came into the series following nine recent Test losses in Asia. But an impressive display, from spinners and pace bowlers alike, dispelled the notion that the Aussies don't like the turning tracks of the sub-continent. Left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe bamboozled India with a match haul of 12 wickets in the opener in Pune, before off-spinner Nathan Lyon returned with 8-50 - the best figures by a visiting bowler in India - during Australia's defeat in Bangalore. O'Keefe and Lyon amassed 38 wickets between them, ensuring that the tourists didn't go down without a fight. Fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, who was forced to head home midway through the series with a stress fracture, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins also chipped in with key wickets during crucial spells.
Smith underlined his status as the world's number one Test batsman despite being unable to lead his side to a famous series win. His batting helped take the hosts right to the wire as Australia proved to be top-ranked India's toughest opponents during its marathon, 13-match home Test season. Smith accumulated 499 runs, including three centuries, to join an illustrious group of touring batsmen to score three tons in a series on Indian soil. "I set myself high standards and I wanted to lead from the front with my performances... it has been a great learning curve for me as an individual," said Smith, who scored 178 not out in the third Test in Ranchi.
Kohli wasn't the only Indian star to vacate the limelight during the series. Rather than Ravichandran Ashwin, it was fellow spinner Ravindra Jadeja who led the hosts' bowling strike force, upstaging his more acclaimed colleague. The left-arm spinner, who replaced Ashwin as the top-ranked Test bowler in the middle of the contest, ended with 25 wickets to be named player of the series. He also scored two crucial half-centuries while batting lower down the order. Once regarded as a utility player in the limited-overs version, Jadeja is clearly revelling in his evolution as a player across all formats. "It's a good feeling that I am doing well in Test matches... So there's satisfaction now that I am suitable for both," he said.   

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