Australia record thumping winSudeep Popat |
India needed a miracle to chase down 499. In fact, it would have been quite an achievement had they lasted until well into the final day, managing to get close to what was required. But the Australians proved how clinical can they be in dismantling the opposition to a loss by an embarrassing margin. And in doing so, they recorded their 15th consecutive victory in Tests, closing in on their own record of 16 set in 1999-2000 by Steve Waugh’s magnificent side. India were dismissed for a meager 161, 338 runs shy of the target.
It was not easy for the Australian bowlers. They had to toil hard in the sweltering heat of the bright, shining sun. The Indian top order, thought not at their best, were trying hard to deny the home side an easy win. But the Aussies stuck to their task, and by picking up the last seven Indian wickets for 43 runs, they earned an extra day’s rest, and more importantly a 1-0 lead in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
India started out with one mindset – prevent the fall of wickets. Despite stonewalling the opening bowlers, Wasim Jaffer and Rahul Dravid’s partnership was broken in the 16th over of the innings, when the former was caught behind the wickets by Adam Gilchrist off Brett Lee. Dravid continued playing on with the same pace, whereas the new man in, VVS Laxman looked to be more aggressive, succeeding to an extent in frustrating the bowlers. Dravid’s sojourn in the middle, just like the in first innings, yielded a poor strike rate, questioning whether he is fit to be an opener, regardless of the situation the match is in.
Dravid’s painful effort ended in the 35th over, just before lunch, when part-time Andrew Symonds trapped him in front of the wickets. Sachin Tendulkar came out with a positive attitude, and with Laxman looked to threaten the Aussies with a partnership. However, just when the pair was starting to settle in, a smart bowling change of bring Lee back in, gave Ponting the third Indian wicket with the score on 77. Tendulkar was lured into a drive by Lee, which was going nowhere but an edge through to Gilchrist.
Another partnership started to develop after Tendulkar’s fall, this time between Laxman and Sourav Ganguly. Ganguly, like he has shown recently, was prepared to take more risks, regardless of the situation, and managed to succeed. India went into the drinks break between lunch and tea having crossed a hundred, though looking nowhere near to saving the match, but not in a hopeless position, like they were going to be thrust into post-break.
Laxman and Yuvraj Singh fell soon after the break. Laxman, having reached 42, finally gave into Stuart Clark’s tight bowling. He drove Clark straight to Michael Clarke at cover to signal the beginning of what ended up being a swift end indeed. Yuvraj was accounted for by a beauty from Brad Hogg, who up until that point had a quite forgettable match. Hogg caught Yuvraj in an awkward position with a straighter one, a flipper, that the batsman could not play, and was bowled. This provided Australia with enough hope, going into tea, of dismissing the Indians within the day itself, without having to worry about coming out the next day.
The end came quickly for India, as Mitchell Johnson ran through the lower order, ending up with figures of 3-21. Johnson’s burst also helped Gilchrist, who caught both Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Anil Kumble, end the match with a tally of eight catches, past Ian Healy’s Australian record of 396 dismissals. While Harbhajan was run out without facing a delivery, and Ganguly’s frustration led to his downfall to Hogg, Johnson came in a removed the final batsman, RP Singh, bowled for 2.
There are now some serious questions that the Indian management needs to ask themselves, especially when it comes to their batting selection and order. An extra day’s rest to cool off will have to be utilized wisely, if they want bounce back, and prevent Australia from making it 16 in a row. The second Test starts at Sydney on January 2.
Australia 343 and 351-7
India 196 and 161
VVS Laxman 42, Sourav Ganguly 40
Brett Lee 2-43, Mitchell Johnson 3-21, Brad Hogg 2-51
Man of the Match: Matthew Hayden (124 and 47)
Australia won by 337 runs, and lead the four-Test series 1-0.