India secured a hard-fought 2-1 Test series win over Australia on Tuesday thanks to a convincing victory in the fourth Test.
It brought to an end the long home Test season for India, one that resulted in just one defeat and series victories over New Zealand, England, Bangladesh and Australia to cement their place at the top of the ICC Test rankings.
But the season ending series was by far India’s toughest Test, an enthralling four matches seeing Australia put up an incredible fight.
The standard of cricket was superb, both teams revelling in the fiercely competitive nature of the tour which is the latest example in an every growing list of charged battles for the Gavaskar-Border trophy.
India ultimately came out on top but from the moment Australia won the first Test in Pune, you knew we would be in for a treat and that certainly proved to be the case as the Aussies ran the hosts close.
Back in 2001, these two nations served up possibly the greatest Test series in their rivalry, maybe the world, but this latest offering gives that theory a run for its money.
Ahead of this long Indian winter, most observers would have tipped England to have put up the greatest challenge to the best Test team in the world.
But it wasn’t to be, England were blown away in a 4-0 series defeat that wasn’t as one-sided as the result suggests but was nonetheless dominated by India who were much the better outfit.
New Zealand came and went without alarm, Bangladesh briefly dropping by to lose the one and only Test before Australia arrived to shake things up.
They competed at every turn, their victory in the first Test bringing out the fighting spirit in their hosts, the press pack and seemingly everyone else within a tweet of each match.
The level of cricket played by these two teams was of the highest quality.
Great test series to watch India v Australia.. Some incredible cricket from both sides. Well done India on the series win 2-1.. #cricket— Damien Martyn (@damienmartyn) March 28, 2017
One of the main reasons why this competitiveness was so enjoyable to watch was the needle that ran in its veins.
In recent years, this has been common currency when India and Australia meet, something bringing out both the best and worst in players to create a hostile environment, stadiums serving as fitting cauldrons for the volatility of all parties.
Sure, this series – like those most recent predecessors – didn’t need the extra venom to make it such enjoyable viewing but it sure did add to the drama and seems to be left on the field.
It was a prime example of how Test cricket should be played and why it is so enthralling when such high tension among the camps is equalled by the intensity of the action on the pitch and mutual respect eventually wins out.
Good of Smith to apologise for allowing the emotions to get the better of him a few times...well done. Takes some guts to own up.— Aakash Chopra (@cricketaakash) March 28, 2017
VIRAT KOHLI vs STEVE SMITH
All of which above was perfectly embodied by the two captains, who at times stepped over the line.
While Kohli’s post-match comments about losing some friendships in the Australia camp were incredibly disappointing, Smith apologised post-match for some of the more heated moments of the series.
And even in those more petty and poor examples of the actions of the two skippers, there was plenty of entertainment.
Unfortunately, Kohli wasn’t anywhere near his best with the bat and was reduced to a cheerleader role in the decider.
But where Kohli failed, Smith delivered and his leadership with the bat and superb centuries in Pune, Ranchi and Dharmsala were outstanding.
He was unlucky to have lost the series and desperately unfortunate to miss out on the man of the series award, despite the brilliance of Ravindra Jadeja.