Australia have been undone by one of the most unfortunate cases of ‘commentator’s curse’ during a gripping first Test defeat to India in Adelaide.
India recorded their first Test win in Australia since 2008, with a tense 31-run victory in the series-opener at Adelaide Oval.
It puts the tourists in the box seat to taste unprecedented success against Tim Paine’s shattered team.
The Aussies threatened to pull off an unthinkable record chase in Adelaide, only to fall agonisingly short.
Their predicament was summed up by an incredible piece of misfortune late in their second innings.
Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins were starting to look dangerous at the crease, after combining for crucial late runs with their side already seven wickets down.
“This partnership, 41 from 98 and it is looking comfortable,” Michael Slater said on Channel Seven commentary.
Seconds after the remark, Mohammed Shami had Starc caught behind for 28 after a thick outside edge flew to wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.
Starc’s dismissal seemed to spark the inevitable collapse when Cummins (28) fell a short time later.
However, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood dug in to set up a grandstand finish until the latter became the last Aussie wicket to fall, as India claimed a gripping win.
Australia resumed at 4-104 on day five, requiring a further 219 runs to overhaul an imposing target of 323 and complete a record-breaking chase.
Virat Kohli, clearly frustrated by a third-umpire verdict and some dropped catches that had the potential to prove costly, snaffled an edge at first slip to reduce Australia to 9-259.
Kohli celebrated Cummins’ dismissal by hurling the ball at the ground, rightfully bullish given the victory equation was as simple as restricting the final-wicket stand to 62 runs or less.
The post-lunch session was extended by half-an-hour as India searched for their last wicket, finally delivered when offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin had Hazlewood out edging in the final over before tea.
Kolhi celebrated passionately and screamed in delight.
Nathan Lyon cut a distraught figure, finishing 38 not out after being dropped on seven.
“It’s pretty shattering. I’m really proud of the fight of our lower order,” Paine said.
“Over the five days, we had a number of opportunities to get ahead of the game and failed to.
“We take a lot of confidence from today. The way our guys fought was sensational – we just needed someone in our top six to go big like (Cheteshwar) Pujara did.”
Pujara, who scored 123 and 71 while spending 11 hours at the crease, was named man of the match.
Kohli admitted it was hard to stay calm on the frantic final day, when Shaun Marsh’s 60 and Paine’s 41 threatened to make things interesting.
“I wouldn’t say I was cool as ice but you just try not to show it,” Kohli said.
“The odds were stacked against them once we got Pat Cummins out.
“They gave it a go, tried their best but we executed our plans – eventually.”
Expectations of a dramatic finish grew as Australia fought hard in two gripping sessions.
Ashwin fluffed his lines before striking late, Paine suffered a finger injury that he later insisted wasn’t serious, and trash-talking keeper Pant made it an Indian record 11 dismissals for the match while missing two crucial chances.
The visitors created a breakthrough whenever Australia looked to have shifted momentum in their pursuit of a result that history suggested was impossible, with the highest chase in an Adelaide Test remaining the 6-315 that Australia achieved in 1902.
Paine’s miscued pull shot to the fifth ball he faced after lunch, having earlier offered counterpart Pant a chance on seven, looked like a hammer blow.
But Cummins and Starc, who weathered a blow to the helmet, shared a 41-run stand to create fresh doubt in India’s minds.
Starc went down swishing at Shami, only for Cummins to rebuild again in a 31-run partnership with Lyon.