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INDIA V ENGLAND TESTS

Kohli's India in imperious form

21 December 2016

India moves into celebration mode after their fifth Test victory over England // BCCI

After sweeping aside England 4-0, Australia is the next challenge for the world’s No.1 Test nation

India's stunning 4-0 series win over England that extended skipper Virat Kohli's unbeaten run to 18 Tests will surely make Australia sit up and take notice of what awaits them next year.

Steve Smith's men are due to play four Tests in February-March on their first visit to Indian shores since their predecessors suffered a humiliating 4-0 whitewash four years ago.

Australia have lost eight of their last 10 Tests in India since 2008, with the other two ending in draws.

Jadeja's final-day rampage seals fifth Test

The success against England debunked the popular notion that India win only on rank turners. None of the five pitches on offer in the series were tailor-made for spinners.

Also, the win toss-bat first tactic does not always work in Indian conditions.

Alastair Cook won four of the five tosses but still could not prevent his side from capitulating in four successive matches after the drawn first Test in Rajkot.

India's stranglehold on the tourists was evident when Kohli's side won the last two Tests in Mumbai and Chennai by innings margins despite England piling up 400 and 477 batting first in both games.

In Chennai, the entire England second innings caved in during the last two sessions of the final day even though the even-paced pitch had produced just 17 wickets over the first four days.

Nair joins elite club with rare triple ton

Australia's batsmen must find a way to tackle spin wizards Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, who mesmerized England with nagging accuracy, sharp turn and bounce.

Off-spinner Ashwin justified his number one ranking as a Test all-rounder by emerging the leading wicket-taker in the series with 28 scalps, besides scoring 308 runs with four half-centuries.

Left-armer Jadeja followed closely with 26 wickets, including a career-best 7-48 on Tuesday that helped bowl England out for 207 despite a 103-run opening stand between Cook and Keaton Jennings.

Jadeja made up for the rare failure by Ashwin, who picked up just one wicket on his home ground in Chennai, earning fulsome praise from his captain.

"The way Jadeja is coming up as a batsman he provides just the balance we need in the Test side", Kohli said.

"His strength is bowling at a nice pace, not giving away too many runs away. He makes the batsmen wonder for how can he keep defending.

"On any wicket in the world, if you are bowling that accurately for a long time, invariably the batsman will make a mistake."

Rahul falls agonisingly short of a double ton

Australia will also be wary of India's batting depth after the hosts piled up their highest Test score of 7-759 in Chennai despite meagre contributions from the star trio of Kohli (15), Cheteshwar Pujara (16) and Murali Vijay (29).

Karun Nair, a replacement for injured vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane, hit up 303 not out in only his third Test after close friend and Karnataka team-mate Lokesh Rahul had scored 199.

Kohli said he was not surprised at the staggering display from the team's two youngest members, the 24-year-old Rahul and Nair, who turned 25 earlier this month.

"Players coming in know the benchmark in terms of fitness and performance," the captain said.

"We want that they should be match-ready whenever the call comes.

"Just look at Rahul or Karun. They get into the side and performed almost immediately. Karun, who replaced someone Rahane, could not have made a better statement."

Kohli said the commanding display against England had set the tone for bigger things from his top-ranked Test side.

Kohli's helmet hit a gift for England

"We have had a very good 2016, winning all the Test series we played," he said.

"We are all very proud to be part of such a good season. Hopefully we will build on that.

"Against England, we lost four toss and yet won four matches which is very satisfying. As a captain I feel it was a complete series for us. Everyone contributed at different times."

Kohli was convinced the winning brand of cricket played by his team had re-ignited interest in Test cricket in India.

"The kind of cricket we play as a side -- that is to get results -- is something the crowds enjoy," he said. "They do not want to see Tests ending in boring draws.

"We play with a vision to win, which is exactly what the crowds want."

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Meg Lanning Steve Smith

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