Australia took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series with a four-wicket win over visiting team India on the fourth day of the second cricket Test match at the Gabba in Brisbane on Saturday.
Chasing 128 for victory, the hosts were made to sweat but ultimately got over the finishing line, scoring 130 for six, leaving India rueing the opportunities they missed in the match. Things could have panned out very different had the visitors got rid of Australia’s tail in the first innings swiftly.
India’s dismal collapse on the morning of the fourth day also played a huge hand in the defeat. But India still managed to make a match out of it, taking six Australian wickets and casting doubts in the opposition dressing room.
But a 63-run partnership for the third wicket between opener Chris Rogers (55) and captain Steven Smith (28) was enough to thwart the visitors.
But the poor form of middle-order batsman Shaun Marsh (17) and Brad Haddin (1), who threw their wickets away, would worry the Australian camp, as their untimely dismissal gave a window of hope to India for a dramatic late victory.
Pacers Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav bowled in the right areas in the second innings and were rewarded with three and two wickets respectively. Ishant was the pick of the bowlers, picking up two early wickets to put Australia in a spot of bother at tea.
But the damage was done earlier in the morning, when Australian bowlers, bowled with considerable venom to rattle the Indians.
Left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan (81) fought valiantly, even stringing together a 60-run partnership with Umesh Yadav (30) for the eighth wicket but it came too late in the day as the visitors slumped from a comfortable 71 for one to a dismal 157 for seven, leading by just 60 runs, at lunch.
They lost four wickets inside the first seven overs managing to score just 16 runs in the process and were never able to recover from that early disaster.
Their day began on the wrong note even before the slump, when overnight batsman Dhawan got injured on the wrist while batting at the nets and didn’t come out to bat. Virat Kohli (1) joined overnight batsman Cheteshwar Pujara (43) in the mmiddle.
Kohli never seemed prepared for the big task and was very tentative, ultimately getting castled by Mitchell Johnson in his brief stay at the wicket. Johnson was all over India after that; bowling with pace and menace on a pitch that was beginning to get a little difficult to bat on.
India produced several short partnerships after that, Pujara involved in each one of them, but never failed to consolidate on the initial start. India lost wickets at regular intervals and on key moments of the contest to surrender the fate of the match.
Johnson was ably supported by other pacers – Shane Watson, the usually wayward Mitchell Starc and the first innings five-wicket hero debutant pacer Josh Hazlewood.
But India’s hopes of a late fightback through Ravichandran Ashwin (19) vapourised after the spinner was victim of another umpiring howler, given out caught for a presumed inside edge when the ball only managed to flick his pad on to wicketkeeper Bard Haddin’s gloves.(IANS)