Pant, the 'match-winner': I did it today

Pant, who scored an unbeaten 89 and hit the winning runs for India in the Gabba Test, says the historic win is one of the biggest moments of his life.

Rishabh Pant is hugged by Mohammed Siraj after India's victory on Tuesday. - GETTY IMAGES

After playing a leading role in India's breathtaking run chase in the series-deciding fourth Test against Australia, Rishabh Pant on Tuesday called his team's historic win as one of the biggest moments of his life.

Pant took on the intimidating Australian attack on a challenging fifth-day track to power India to a 2-1 series victory. The three-wicket win at the Gabba on the final day meant India won an unprecedented back-to-back Test series victory Down Under.

"This is one of the biggest moments of my life now, and I'm happy that all the support staff and all my team-mates supported me even when I wasn't playing," Pant said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

India did not play Pant in either the preceding ODI or the T20 series. But the young wicketkeeper-batsman made an impression in the Test series, playing a combative 97-run knock in the second innings in Sydney and again here on Tuesday.

"It's been a dream series. The team management always backs me and tells me, you are a match-winner and you have to go win the match for the team. I keep thinking every day that I want to win matches for India, and I did it today," Pant said.

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Asked about the pitch that had cracks all over, Pant said, "It was a fifth-day pitch and the ball was turning a bit. I thought I have to be disciplined with my shot selection."

Reflecting on the famous win, India skipper Ajinkya Rahane said, "It means a lot to us. I don't know how to describe this, but our boys showed a lot of character and determination after the Adelaide Test."

"I'm really proud of each individual."

It was Rahane who pushed the acceleration button on Day Five with his brisk 24-run knock and he said that was indeed the plan. "The conversation between Pujara and me was that he would bat normal, and I would take it on. Credit to Pujara, the way he handled the pressure was magnificent. Rishabh and Washington were very good at the end."

Indian team takes the victory lap around the Gabba.   -  getty images

Rahane also said the addition of Washington Sundar, who was drafted in because of a spate of injuries to senior players, brought balance to the side. "Taking 20 wickets was the key, so we opted for five bowlers. Sundar brought the balance in place of (Ravindra) Jadeja. The intention was clear to play five bowlers.

"(Mohammed) Siraj played two Tests, (Navdeep) Saini just one, so it was inexperienced but the character shown by the bowlers and everyone else was incredible."

Australia captain Tim Paine graciously admitted that his team was outplayed by the Indians. "We were here to win the series, but we have just been outplayed by a disciplined and tough Indian side who fully deserve the series win. We have to look back over a lot of things, and we'll go through it as a group.

"We have been outplayed by a better side this series," he said.

'Terrific series'

Paine said they had a plan for India but the visiting team came prepared for the challenge. "We wanted to set a bit over 300, and dangle a carrot for them to win the series. I thought India turned up today, wore balls on the head arm and chest, put their body in the line, so credit to them, they deserve the win.

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"Wicketkeeping is a part of my job, and I have to get them right. Our bowlers did really well as well, it's just credit to the Indian side for this terrific series."

Australia pacer Pat Cummins, who took 22 wickets, was adjudged the Player-of-the-Series. "It was good hard day of Test cricket today. Rishabh and the rest of India took the game on and deserved to win. I wanted the cracks to do a bit more. If we bowled well I think we could have picked up wickets. In Sydney the game was there to win on Day Five, we just didn't go for it, so yes, overall, quite happy," Cummins said.

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