Australia, inspired by captain Michael Clarke, crushed India by an innings and 68 runs in the second Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday to take a dominant 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
Clarke’s mammoth unbeaten 329 in Australia’s 659 for four declared, combined with another display of aggressive pace bowling, ensured the hosts would win successive matches in a Test series for the first time since March 2010.
It was the sixth successive overseas Test defeat for India after their 4-0 drubbing in England last year, which saw them relinquish the No. 1 world ranking, and put paid to their hopes of a first series triumph in Australia.
“I can’t keep the smile off my face,” Clarke, who was named Man of the Match, told reporters. “I’ve always said you’ve got to enjoy your success as a team. Tonight’s going to be very special to the team, but for me personally as well.”
“I’m really stoked with our performance and it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to score that many runs in an innings personally,” he added.
India had faced a Herculean task to rescue the match after Australia declared with a lead of 468 on Thursday, but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the seeds of the defeat had been sewn when they were bundled out for 191 on the opening day.
“We didn’t put enough runs on the board,” he said. “To win Test matches, of course taking 20 wickets is very important, but also we need to give that cushion, having those extra runs on the board so that the bowlers can plan the opposition out.”
“We have lost the chance of winning the series, but still with two more Test matches to go we can level the series so that’s what we’re looking to do,” he added.
The series resumes in Perth on Friday, before the fourth and final Test in Adelaide.
Some spirited batting from India’s tailenders extended the second contest beyond the tea break yesterday, before spinner Ravi Ashwin was caught out for 62, a fifth wicket for Ben Hilfenhaus, to bring a close to India’s second innings of 400.
Sachin Tendulkar’s 21st attempt to secure his 100th international century had earlier ended when he was dismissed for 80 soon after lunch, triggering a mini-collapse, with four wickets tumbling for 15 runs.
And it was Clarke, who had shared record stands with Ricky Ponting (134) and Mike Hussey (150 not out) as he batted through Day 3 of the contest, making the key breakthrough with his occasional spin-bowling.
Tendulkar had resumed on 70 after lunch having raced to his 65th Test half-century in the morning and had added 10 runs to his tally when he got an edge to a Clarke delivery which deflected off the gloves of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin into Hussey’s hands.
Australia then took the new ball and Hilfenhaus, who ended with figures of 5-106, wrought havoc with it, bowling V.V.S. Laxman first up for 66 with a peach of a ball that just touched the off-stump.
In his next over, the big pacemen had Dhoni caught and bowled for 2 after a review of the television pictures showed India’s skipper had chipped the ball back to him.
James Pattinson got his first wicket of the innings in the next over, trapping Virat Kohli plumb LBW for 9 and leaving India languishing on 286 for seven.
With the match almost certainly lost, Zaheer Khan had some fun with a quickfire 35, which included a huge six, before he was caught by Shaun Marsh off the bowling of Peter Siddle.