DHARAMSALA -- Opener KL Rahul struck his sixth half-century of the series while skipper Ajinkya Rahane played some phenomenal strokes as India hammered Australia by eight wickets in fourth and the final Test to reclaim Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-1 at the Himachal Pradesh Association Stadium (HPCA) here on Tuesday.
Resuming at yesterday's score of 19-0, Rahul smashed nine boundaries in his 51-run knock besides stitching a 60-run stand with Rahane (38 off 27 balls) to help India reach the 106-run target on Day Four in less than a session.
Needing 87 runs to win on the fourth day, Rahul seemed to be in a hurry as he started off with a flurry of boundaries to take the home side even more closer to the target.
Meanwhile, Rahane, who was leading the side in the absence of injured skipper Virat Kohli, came out and calmed the nerves in the dressing room by hitting Pat Cummins for two back to back boundaries.
For Australia, Pat Cummins was the only bowler to add a wicket in his account.
Earlier, an exemplary bowling performance by India saw Australia bowl out in their second innings for only 137, leaving the hosts a modest target of 106 to win the match and the series.
Glenn Maxwell (45) was the highest scorer for the visiting side.
While Ravindra Jadeja , Umesh Yadav and Ravichandran Ashwin bagged three wickets each, Bhuvneshwar Kumar also chipped in with a wicket.
Jadeja was declared `Man of the Match` as well as 'Man of the series' for his brilliant contribution with both bat and ball throughout the four-match Test series against the Steve Smithe-led side.
The Indian cricket team on Tuesday retained the ICC Test Championship mace after clinching a four-match series against Australia 2-1 in Dharamsala.
India has also won a cash award of one million dollars for ensuring top position in the ICC Test Team rankings on the annual 1 April cut-off date.
Captain Virat Kohli received the mace and cheque from ICC Cricket Hall of Famer Sunil Gavaskar at a ceremony after the fourth and final Test against Australia in Dharamsala, in which Ajinkya Rahane led the side as Kohli could not play due to a shoulder injury.
India had entered the series against Australia needing to win at least one Test to retain possession of the prestigious mace, which it had reclaimed following the Indore Test against New Zealand in October 2016.
The second and third places in the rankings will be decided after the ongoing Hamilton Test between South Africa and New Zealand. If South Africa wins or draws the Test, it will be assured of second place but a loss will see Australia finish ahead of it in second place.
The side to finish second will get five lakh dollars while the side finishing third will receive two lakh dollars. The fourth-placed team, which is England, will get one lakh dollars.
"We are absolutely delighted to have topped the ICC Test rankings. The longest format of the game really tests a team's character and I'm proud that we have proved ourselves to be the best," Kohli said after his side's clinched an eight-wicket win over Aussies in Dharamsala.
"Being presented with the Test championship mace last year was an exhilarating experience and the feeling is no different this time. I'd like to both congratulate and thank everyone who has been part of this success. This includes not only all the players who have been in the squad but also the team management and support staff, without whom we could not have done so well. It has not been an easy journey but all the hard work has been worth it," Kohli said.
"We have maintained our position with some really good cricket in recent months. The team has shown the tenacity to bounce back from difficult situations," he added
Sunil Gavaskar, on the other hand, said, "Congratulations to the Indian team for its superb performances in Test cricket. Being at the top in this format is no mean achievement and proves that the players have been doing well on a consistent basis."
"The horizon has changed with the development of the limited overs formats but Test cricket has held on to its own even 140 years after it was first played. Everyone recognizes that Tests are the ultimate trial of a cricketer's caliber. It's good to see the players enjoy the challenges that Test cricket presents and have high regard for others who do well in the format."
ICC Chief Executive David Richardson, "On behalf of the ICC, I would like to congratulate India for achieving and maintaining number-one status amid some stiff competition, particularly from Australia and Pakistan who both held the top spot over the last year, and South Africa who have had some great Test series wins of late. The team has shown great consistency over the last 12 months, it possesses a variety of talent and is an exciting team to watch."
"I'm sure being recognized as the best Test nation is something that the team will really be proud of and I look forward to another year of outstanding Test cricket being played as they look to defend their position."
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