Australia beat India in thriller

Three wickets in the penultimate over for the final day of the second Test between Australia and India at the SCG in Sydney, from the unlikely slow left-arm orthodox bowling from Michael Clarke, sealed the home side’s 16th consecutive win in Tests, equaling their own record set back between 1999 and 2001 under the leadership of Steve Waugh.

India, thanks to the effort of Sourav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and skipper Anil Kumble with the bat, looked all set to draw the Test, when the introduction of Michael Clarke in the bowling in a last forlorn move catalyzed a thrilling result. Kumble was left stranded not out on 45, as the last three tailend batsmen fell in the same over to Clarke, handing Australia a 2-0 lead in this four-Test series. This also means that Australia have retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Starting the day at a lead of 213 runs, Australia extended their lead to 332, playing out just until a little shortly before lunch, thanks largely to Michael Hussey’s majestic 45, and Symonds uncharacteristic but effective 61. It seemed as if Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, had delayed the declaration until a little longer that one would have though in order to push for a result. However, his late declaration ensured that India at least did not have a realistic chance of knocking off the runs in the remaining 72 overs.

India’s inning got off to a bad start as Wasim Jaffer, out of form, fell to Brett Lee in the first over, only edging a push forward to an awkward delivery to Clarke at third slip. Immediately following the lunch break until when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman seemed to be stabilizing the innings after the early loss of Jaffer, India were two down as the latter was caught in front of the wickets by Stuart Clark off a ball that nipped back into him. Sachin Tendulkar followed soon after, bowled off an inside edge off the same bowler, reducing India to 54-3 and in a spot of bother.

Dravid, starring in another slow innings, just trying to block out everything, was then involved in a promising partnership with the in-form Sourav Ganguly. The two put together 61, taking the match into the last session and reducing Australia’s chances of bowling out the visitors.

However, just when it looked that India were all set to avoid a 2-0 deficit in the series, Steve Bucknor, whose decision of not giving Andrew Symonds out in the first innings in his 30s allowing the batsman to score a century was criticized heavily, was involved in another controversial decision. Dravid was adjudged caught behind the wickets when on 38, having fended off 103 deliveries spanning over three sessions. It looked clear that his bat was tucked well behind the pads, and made no contact with the ball.

Three balls later, Yuvraj Singh, clearly not the same as he was in the Twenty20 World Cup or the time following up until this series, was also caught behind, but this time off a clean thick edge of the bowling of Symonds. Seven overs later, another controversial decision led to Ganguly’s demise, when Clarke claiming a catch which was inconclusive on replays, was given the benefit of the doubt. Ganguly’s 51, though only spanned over 56 balls, led the Indians to at least hope for a chance of saving the match, even with 32 overs and just four wickets in hand.

More details to follow.

Australia 463 and 401-7 decl.
Matthew Hayden 123, Michael Hussey 145, Andrew Symonds 61
Harbhajan Singh 2-92, Anil Kumble 4-148

India 532 and 210
Sourav Ganguly 51, Anil Kumble 45*
Brett Lee 2-34, Stuart Clark 2-32, Andrew Symonds 3-51, Michael Clarke 3-5

Man of the Match: Andrew Symonds (162*, 61 and 3-51)

Australia won by 122 runs and lead the four-Test series 2-0.

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