Smith rues Delhi Test collapse after losing series

Oliver Caffrey |

Steve Smith admits the dramatic batting collapse in the second Test in Delhi still hurts after Australia lost a fourth straight Border-Gavaskar series to India.

India secured a 2-1 series win after the fourth Test in Ahmedabad ended in a draw on Monday.

After the first three Tests ended in less than three days on raging turners, the series finale was played on a lifeless pitch as just 21 wickets fell across 15 sessions.

Australia were outplayed in the series opener in Nagpur but blew a golden opportunity a week later in Delhi as their hopes of a first Test series win in India since 2004 evaporated in a “hour of madness”.

The tourists lost 8-28 when they were in a winning position to hand India an eventual comfortable path to victory.

But Australia regained some of their reputation with a memorable nine-wicket win in Indore in the third Test to raise some hope of levelling the series 2-2. 

“We really hurt after that game in Delhi,” Smith said. 

“Guys were pretty upset with the way we went away from our methods in that game, it was disappointing, 

“Obviously at that point we knew there was plenty to still play for in the series and guys responded really well and as a group we are proud of the way we bounced back and play some good cricket in the last couple of Test matches.”

Starting day five on Monday still trailing India by 91 runs, Australia were comfortably steered to safety by Travis Head (90) and Marnus Labuschange (63 no) as the match was called off early with neither team capable of securing a victory.

Australia declared on 2-175 with Labuschange and Steve Smith (10 no) at the crease after making 480 in their first innings when Usman Khawaja (180) and Cameron Green (114) scored memorable centuries.

But India batted even better, piling on 571 as Virat Kohli (186) broke through for his first century in more than three years and young opener Shubman Gill scored an excellent 128.

Kohli was named player of the match, while star Indian allrounders Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin were rewarded for match-winning performances across the four Tests by sharing the man-of-the-series award.

Australia’s regular No.11 Matt Kuhnemann was the only wicket to fall in the first session on Monday after the spinner was sent in as a nightwatchman on Sunday with Head in place of Khawaja.

The in-form opener is struggling with an unspecified leg injury after hurting himself in the field on Sunday and looked sore trying to run in the nets before play on day five.

Khawaja was only a chance to bat if Australia found themselves in serious trouble trying to save the match.

The last two Border-Gavaskar series have all been 2-1 scorelines in favour of India.

India won the last time they hosted Australia in 2017, while they also secured memorable away series victories in 2018-19 and 2020-21.

But Australia and India will meet again in June with the powerhouse teams qualifying for the World Test Championship final at The Oval in London.

Australia’s next Test tour to India is in 2027, with star players like Steve Smith, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc and Khawaja unlikely to return.