Australia hammered India by nine wickets to win the third Test and qualify for the World Test Championship final on Day 3 of Border-Gavaskar Trophy at Holkar Cricket Stadium here on Friday.
With this loss, India has to win the fourth Test at Ahmedabad to qualify for the WTC final.
Needing 76 runs to register their first victory after losing first two in the series, Tarvis Head and Marnus Labuschagne broke India’s fight after Ravichandran Ashwin gave some hope when he removed Usman Khawaja on an edge to Srikar Bharat behind the stumps in the second ball of the day.
But that was the only joy for India as Head and Labuschagne dropped anchor and took their time. They did not go for a single boundary for the first 10 overs.
After the change of ball, the duo cut loose, especially Head was in a punishing mood as he clobbered a flurry of boundaries, breaking the confidence of Ashwin who was the only bowler who looked to take wickets.
Losing 7 wickets in the first session of the match after opting to bat was never going to help India.
India looked comfortable playing pacers Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green, but wobbled against orthodox left-arm spinner Matthew Kulhemann who bagged his maiden five-wicket haul along with Nathan Lyon picking up three wickets. They restricted the hosts to a meagre 109 in their first innings.
In response, Khawaja and Labuschagne made a crucial 40 runs stand before India found their mojo back on the second day by picking up six Australian wickets for 11 runs, but the damage had already been done.
Khawaja got a crucial 60 runs under his belt that helped Australia take an all-important 88-run lead.
After bundling out Australia for 197 in their first innings, India could manage 163 in the second innings with their batsmen failing once again, except Cheteshwar Pujara who scored a dogged 59 and Shreyas Iyer a quickfire 26 off 27 balls. Nathan Lyon was the wrecker-in-chief as he picked eight Indian wickets for just 64 runs.
It needed a miracle to stop Australia from chasing the paltry 76, but that did not happen for India.
Brief Scores: India 109 (Virat Kohli 22; Matthew Kuhnemann 5-16, Nathan Lyon 3-35) and 163 (Cheteshwar Pujara 59; Nathan Lyon 8-64) lost to Australia 197 (Usman Khawaja 60, Marnus Labuschagne 31; Ravindra Jadeja 4-63, R Ashwin 3-44, Umesh Yadav 3-12) and 78/1 (Travis Head 49*) by 9 wickets.