India v Australia, 4th Test: Dharamsala’s debut the stage for India’s biggest test


NEW DELHI: The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Stadium, with the stunning backdrop of the Dhauladar mountain range, is the setting for a Test match with plenty at stake. The series is locked at 1-1 after three engrossing and intense - as well as acrimonious - matches on varied surfaces in Pune, Bangalore and Ranchi and victory in Dharamsala, hosting its first Test match, will decided the winner. India have not got their hands on the Border-Gavaskar Trophy since 2014-15, while Australia can take it home if they win and claim a memorable series victory.

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For Australia, there is the added incentive of avoiding defeat in this deciding Test so they can remain at second place in the ICC Test Championship ahead of the cut-off date of April 1, on which India is assured of finishing first and receiving a cash award of $1 million. Should Australia lose and South Africa win or draw with New Zealand in Hamilton, Steve Smith's team will fall to third.

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If it seemed unthinkable that there would be a deadlock heading into the fourth and final Test of the series, it was because Virat Kohli's team was on a record unbeaten streak and Australia were in India after failing to win nine consecutive Tests in Asia. In Pune, Australia ransacked a jaded India inside three days to take the lead; on a sharp turner in Bangalore, India hit back with a win that Kohli termed 'the sweetest' of his captaincy; a tussle in Ranchi ended in a draw, which has turned Dharamsala's debut into the biggest match of India's busiest home season ever.

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