Ahmedabad: India progressed to the World Test Championship (WTC) final face-off with Australia in June even though the fourth and final Test between the two countries at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Motera ended in a draw.
The draw, however, ensured that India won the series 2-1, their 16th consecutive Test series victory at home.
Ahead by 88 runs at the start of the final day, India needed quick wickets early to have hopes of dismissing Australia and winning the Test to qualify for the WTC final.
They managed to get overnight batsman Matthew Kuhnemann, who was dismissed by R Ashwin early.
But by lunch, it was clear that beating Australia on such a featherbed was going to be a tough task.
The Australians had wiped off 73 off the 91-run lead with Travis Head (90) and Marnus Labuschagne (63 not out) going to lunch at 45 and 22 respectively.
Thankfully for India, before they took the field post-lunch, news emerged from Christchurch that Kane Williamson-powered New Zealand had edged out Sri Lanka by two wickets to pave the way for India to qualify for the final ahead of Sri Lankans.
India could rest back but Head and Labuschagne continued to milk runs and soon took Australia into a proper lead. By the time Head was bowled by Patel for just 10 short of his century, it was clear that the game would end in a draw.
After tea, Australia batted for another hour before the two teams shook hands to end the game. Skipper Steve Smith (10 not out) stood at the crease solidly for 59 balls while Labuschagne faced 213 deliveries. For India, R Ashwin took 158 in 24 overs while Patel took 1/36 in 18 overs.
“That was a pretty flat wicket, that one. I think we started to play a lot better as the series went on. That hour of madness in Delhi (second Test) really cost us,” said Smith after the match.
“We had to come up with answers at different times. We knew how important it was to start the series. I am very proud of the Delhi Test. We were behind in the game,” said India skipper Rohit Sharma after the game.
Virat Kohli was adjudged man of the match while Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin were given man of the series award jointly.