India gets 1st test match win in Australia since 2008

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India's Ravi Ashwin, second right, celebrates with teammate Rishabh Pant after taking the wicket of Australia's Josh Hazlewood for India to win the first cricket test by 31 runs in Adelaide, Australia, Monday, Dec. 10. (AP Photo/James Elsby)
India’s Ravi Ashwin, second right, celebrates with teammate Rishabh Pant after taking the wicket of Australia’s Josh Hazlewood for India to win the first cricket test by 31 runs in Adelaide, Australia, Monday, Dec. 10. (AP Photo/James Elsby)

Adelaide, Australia (AP) — Rishabh Pant equaled a world record as top-ranked India held off a beleaguered Australian lineup by 31 runs on Monday to secure their first test match victory Down Under since 2008.

India dismissed Australia for 291 with two balls remaining in an extended penultimate session on day five to win an engrossing, low-scoring contest.

Set 323 runs to win, Australia’s lower-order provided gritty resistance to edge toward the target with the last three wickets adding 104 runs before the hosts were bowled out after 119.5 overs. India shared the wickets around with Ravichandran Ashwin (3-93), Jasprit Bumrah (3-68) and Mohammed Shami (3-65) claiming three each.

Pant equaled a world record for wicketkeepers with 11 catches for the test. Cheteshwar Pujara was man-of-the-match after scores of 123 and 71.

“We were down and out at lunch on day one. His belief, grit and determination kept us in the game, he brought us back beautifully,” India captain Virat Kohli said of Pujara’s contribution. It was the first time India had won a series-opener in Australia.

The second test in the four-match series starts Friday in Perth, and Kohli is confident India can carry momentum across to Australia’s west coast.

“It’s a very special feeling, having never done it in Australia — to take the lead first up,” Kohli said. “It’s obviously a very good achievement on the team’s part and something we’re looking forward to build on …. something that for us is a huge, huge boost.”

The Adelaide test appeared over when Pat Cummins fell at 259-9, but No. 10 Nathan Lyon and No. 11 Josh Hazlewood defied India’s flagging attack with a last-wicket partnership of 32 runs. Hazlewood (13) was caught at first slip off Ashwin, sparking jubilation from India’s players.

Lyon finished 38 not out from 47 deliveries.

“Our fast bowlers bowled with great heart and we knew they wouldn’t throw in the towel,” Kohli told reporters. “We expected them (Australia’s lower-order) to fight.”

Australia’s slim chances appeared to nosedive when captain Tim Paine was dismissed on his first delivery after lunch, throwing his wicket away with a miscued pulled shot off Bumrah. He made 41 after aggressive batting in the morning session and required treatment on his troubled right index finger.

Cummins (28) and an attacking Mitchell Starc (28) combined to frustrate India with an eighth-wicket partnership of 41 runs. Starc’s breezy knock ended when he edged a wide Shami delivery to be caught behind.

Cummins batted with the concentration and application often lacking from Australia’s top-order batsmen, with his 121 balls faced the second most in the innings. His innings ended when he edged Bumrah to captain Virat Kohli, who glared at the crowd after snaring the first slip catch.

Paine said he was proud of Australia’s fight but lamented squandering an early position of dominance, when India were 19-3 on the opening morning.

“We made India work hard and that was pleasing but it was a huge missed opportunity,” he said. “It’s going to be a tight series and an arm-wrestle … we’re looking forward to Perth.”