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India take fast lane to be step away from history

Pacers shine as Kohli & Co beat Aus in Melbourne

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Indian team and its support staff pose in the dressing room after winning the MCG Test on Sunday
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The Indian cricket team bid adieu to 2018 on a memorable note, delivering a Test triumph in Melbourne after 37 years on Sunday to be one step away from a historic maiden Test series victory against Australia in their den.

Virat Kohli-led Team India took less than five overs on the final day of the third Test to go 2-1 up in the four-match Test series, picking up the remaining two Aussie wickets that sealed a 137-run victory and ensured that the Border-Gavaskar Trophy stayed put in India.

The Indians last won a Test at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1981, when Sunil Gavaskar's men beat Greg Chappell's Australians by 59 runs.

Generations of quality Indian cricketers have come and gone since, but never has the team had a battery of fast bowlers as effective and potent as the current group, and that has been the biggest factor behind India's success so far Down Under.

Jasprit Bumrah capped off his incredible Test debut year with a match haul of 9/86, the best figures by an Indian fast bowler in Australia.

He has been ably supported by Mohammad Shami and Ishant Sharma, the trio bettering the lethal West Indian combo of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Joel Garner in terms of number of wickets by pacers in away Tests in a single year.

"We knew that it would be tough for Australia, but credit to our bowlers, especially Jasprit," Kohli said on Sunday.

The captain, though, isn't content with just retaining the trophy, which they will even if India lose the last Test in Sydney starting from January 3, that would draw the series 2-2. "We are not going to stop here. This (win) will give us more confidence and we will play more positively in Sydney. We want to win the last Test match as well," Kohli said.

The year has ended on a high for the Indian cricket team, and it is eager for a happy new year as well.

TEAM INDIA SET THE PACE IN 2018

Indian team’s success in Australia is largely down to its fast bowling unit, which has been firing on all cylinders throughout the year

NUMBERS GAME

48 No. of wickets Jasprit Bumrah has taken in 9 Tests since his Test debut in January, the most by any pacer in his first Test season

47 No. of wickets India pacers have taken in the 3 Australia Tests so far, the second-most by an Indian side in a series in Australia 

8 No. of five-wicket hauls Indian fast bowlers have taken in Tests this year, the most by an Indian attack in a year

ECLIPSING FEARSOME WINDIES TRIO

India’s trio of fast bowlers — Bumrah, Shami and Ishant — has collectively taken 134 wickets in Test matches away from home this year, the most in a calendar year. It eclipsed the 34-year-old record set by the fearsome West Indies troika of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Joel Garner, which picked up 130 wickets in their country’s away tours in 1984.

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