India v Australia, 2nd Test, Bangalore, 5th day October 13, 2010

Pujara's classy fourth-innings act

Cheteshwar Pujara's 72 is the second-highest score by an Indian debutant in the fourth innings of a Test

Stats highlights from the fifth day of the Bangalore Test.

The fourth-innings routine

A fourth-innings target of 200 or more is traditionally supposed to be a tough ask, but India have made a habit out of chasing them down - sometimes with ease, sometimes after a struggle. They've now done it in each of their last three Tests, easing past the finish line after a few tough moments in Colombo, winning a game no-one expected them to in Mohali, and cantering to victory in Bangalore. They've now won on ten occasions after being set a fourth-innings target of 200 or more, and seven of them have come since 2000.

Pujara's gem

If VVS Laxman was the hero of the first two run-chases mentioned above, then his replacement, Cheteshwar Pujara, ensured there were no hiccups in chasing down a tricky target in Bangalore. The match situation could have fazed far more experienced players, but Pujara was nerveless, attacking the Australian bowlers immediately and ensuring that the pressure of losing Virender Sehwag early yet again in the fourth innings didn't hamper the run-chase. His 72 came off just 89 balls, and he scored at a strike-rate of more than 70 against all bowlers except Peter George.

Pujara against Australian bowlers
Bowler Runs Balls Strike rate
Ben Hilfenhaus 8 10 80.00
Mitchell Johnson 10 14 71.42
Nathan Hauritz 25 19 131.57
Peter George 13 27 48.14
Shane Watson 16 19 84.21

Pujara's innings was also remarkable because it came in the fourth innings, with plenty at stake. In fact, he became only the fifth Indian to score 50 or more runs in the last innings of a Test on debut, and the first one to do it since Sunil Gavaskar. Pujara's 72 is also the second-highest fourth-innings score by an Indian debutant, next only to Abbas Ali Baig's 112 against England, which, incidentally, is the highest by any debut batsman in the last innings.

Breaking the Bangalore jinx

Pujara's fine knock, followed by Sachin Tendulkar's finishing touches, gave India their first Test win in Bangalore in 15 years - their last win here was in October 1995, when they beat New Zealand by eight wickets. The win also marginally improved India's record in what still remains their worst home venue: in 19 Tests here, India have won five, lost six and drawn eight.

A rare clean sweep - I

It's only the third time India have won all Tests in a series of two or more Tests (excluding series against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe). Their two earlier wins both came in the 1990s, when they achieved 3-0 margins against England (1992-93) and Sri Lanka (1993-94).

A rare clean sweep - II

For Australia, though, it was a clean sweep of another kind: they lost all Tests of a series for the first time in nearly 30 years. The last time they suffered such a fate was in 1982 in Pakistan, when they lost in Karachi (nine wickets), Faisalabad (innings and three runs) and Lahore (nine wickets).

In fact, this had only happened five times in Australia's entire Test history, with three of those instances occurring before 1900: against England in 1886, 1887, and 1890. The only other instance of Australia being at the receiving end of such a whitewash was in South Africa in 1970, when they lost 4-0.

It's also the first time Australia have lost three Tests in a row since November-December 1988, when they were beaten by West Indies in Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne.

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo