Aussies Crush India, Win Series After 35 Yrs Email this page
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Nagpur, Oct. 29 (NNN): Australia sealed their first historic Test series win in India for 35 years amid emotional scenes with a crushing 342-run victory on day four of the third Test at the Vidharba Cricket Association stadium in Nagpur on Friday.
Poor batting by the Indian top order for the second time in three days saw India crashing to its biggest-ever defeat in terms of runs against Australia.

Set 543 to win after the visitors had declared their second innings on 329-5, India were dismissed for just 200.

All the top batsmen, barring Virender Sehwag, flopped. The dashing opener batted in his customary carefree fashion even though wickets kept falling at the other end to score 58 runs (94 balls, 8 fours).

Ajit Agarkar (44) and Parthiv Parthiv Patel (32) were the others to offer resistance, after Akash Chopra (1), Rahul Dravid (2), Sachin Tendulkar (2), VVS Laxman (2) and Mohammad Kaif (7) were back in the pavilion with the Indian total reading 37 for 5.

Jason Gillespie claimed four wickets for 24 runs to add to the five he picked in the first innings. Gillespie claimed 4-24 to return personal-best match figures of 9-80.

Australia bludgeoned India's attack in the morning, with Damien Martyn falling three short of a second match ton and Michael Clarke stroking a superb 73.

The triumph, gained in paceman Glenn McGrath's 100th Test, awards Australia the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and lays to rest the bitter memories of their dramatic defeat in India three years ago.

Following victory in the first Test in Bangalore, Australia's series win was secured with one match still to play, starting on November 3 in Mumbai.

Martyn and Clarke, using cavalier, aggressive strokeplay, put on 148 for the fourth wicket, and 117 in 22.3 overs following the resumption of play. Boundaries flowed from both blades either side of the wicket, and the first sniff India had of a breakthrough they squandered when Virender Sehwag dropped Martyn, 85 at the time, at backward point.

The batsmen took a single and Agarkar, the bowler Sehwag let down, was promptly hit for 14 runs by Clarke off the next three balls.

Clarke's audacious innings came to an end when Mohammad Kaif pocketed a good catch low-down at mid-wicket, but with Martyn in the 90s Gilchrist delayed the declaration and joined him in the middle.

Martyn was one shot away from becoming the second Australian after Sir Don Bradman to score two centuries in a match against India, but it was not to be.

The West Aussie, who has enjoyed a wonderful series with the bat, discarded his gloves in disgust as he walked off the ground after edging Zaheer Khan behind to induce the declaration.

India's top-order batted like men with nothing to fight for as they set out after what was a notional target.

The top-order dropped like flies, and even Virender Sehwag needed a Justin Langer drop on nought to launch an entertaining resistance which yielded 58 runs.

India were 9-2 in the blink of an eye after lunch with Gillespie bowling both Aakash Chopra and skipper Rahul Dravid to complete a miserable match for the duo.

Any hopes the crowd had of Sachin Tendulkar pulling a rabbit out of the hat - and they audibly had many - were swiftly vanquished when he edged to gully to become McGrath's 450th Test victim.

The hosts were given no respite upon the introduction of Michael Kasprowicz, who accounted for VVS Laxman first ball and Kaif next over (both to catches), to reduce India to 37-5.

Sehwag and Parthiv Patel ensured India's lowest scores would not be rewritten with a 65-run stand, and the former gave McGrath plenty to ponder with an array of thumping boundaries en route to an eighth Test fifty.

It was left to Shane Warne, bowling around the wicket, to remove the opener, who moved inside the line and picked out Clarke at extra cover.

Gillespie returned to reduce India to 122-8 with the scalps of the obstinate Patel, caught behind for 32, and Anil Kumble, bowled for two.

Murali Kartik looked unlucky to be given out caught behind to McGrath, but with only one wicket needed Zaheer Khan put Australia's celebrations on ice with two sixes off Warne.

Zaheer put on 52 with Agit Agarkar for the last wicket, but the fun and games were over when he smashed Warne into the sure hands of Martyn at deep mid-wicket.

Morning session (Australia 127 runs, 2 wickets, 25.1 overs; India 1 runs, 1 over)

Australia bludgeoned India's attack in the morning, with Damien Martyn falling three short of a second match ton and Michael Clarke stroking a superb 73.

The Indian bowlers stuck to defensive lines -- way outside the off-stump or on the leg-stump; the field was spread out and not even the new ball, taken in the 83rd over, could dislodge the Aussie overnight batsmen, Clarke and Martyn.

India's focus on day 4 was to save the match. The biggest problem for the hosts was that Australia already had enough runs -- 415 -- on board at the end of day 3 and in the morning session they were under no pressure whatsoever.

However, it was Clarke who started playing some unbelievable shots as he tried to get to his century before the declaration. He reached his 50 off 79 balls, inclusive of eight boundaries.

An Agarkar over, the 91st of the innings, provided the gist of the session. The first ball was hooked by Martyn for four, the second was hit through square-leg for two; Martyn was dropped by Sehwag on 84 and the batsmen scampered through for a single off the third; the fourth ball saw Clarke produce the shot of the match for me. He charged down the wicket to a short delivery and clubbed it for six over long-off.

Agarkar tried to come back with a bouncer, but that was guided to fine leg for another four. The next ball was dispatched one-bounce to the mid-wicket boundary. 21 runs came from the over. The first ten overs with the new ball yielded 68 runs for the Aussies.

As Agarkar walked back to the boundary, the crowd got on his case. But it wasn't easy bowling to Clarke, considering the kind of touch he is in. He was playing strokes one hasn't seen on the cricket field for a long, long time.

Clarke was eventually dismissed on 73, which came off 95 balls. It included 11 boundaries and one six. He tried to smash Kumble through mid-wicket, but found the only close-in fielder, Kaif, in the circle. (319 for 4)

The Aussie duo put on 148 runs in 33.3 overs, at 4.42 runs per over. By this time, whatever little resistance and spirit remained with the Indians was stamped out by Australia's ruthless approach.

Adam Gilchrist joined Martyn at the wicket, but the partnership didn't last too long. Martyn was caught in the slips off Zaheer for 97 (184 balls, 8 boundaries). The right-hander was the third Australian batsman, after Clarke in the first innings and Katich in the second, to be dismissed in the nineties in this match. Had Martyn got a century, he would have become only the second Australian after Sir Donald Bradman to score a century in each innings of a Test against India.

Australia immediately declared the innings on 329 for the loss of five wickets. The overall lead for the visitors was a mammoth 542 runs.

Indian innings:

The Indians had just one over to tackle before lunch. The Aussies started with a very defensive field. Akash Chopra, was on strike, and the fielders, with the exception of the slips, were all at the boundary. The visitors wanted Virender Sehwag on strike. The right-hander's attacking instincts are a plus most of the time, but with just one over to go he needed to shut shop.

Chopra negotiated the first four balls of the over and took a single off the fifth ball to leave Sehwag with just one delivery to play.

At lunch, India were 1 for no loss, with Chopra on 1 and Sehwag yet to open his account.

Post-lunch session (83 runs, 5 wickets, 26-overs)

Sixty minutes into the second session, the match was over for all intent and purposes. India had lost the wickets of Chopra, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Mohammad Kaif.

Two overs after the break, Chopra (1) was clean bowled by Gillespie. The ball pitched outside the off-stump and cut in sharply after pitching; Chopra was late on the ball as it crashed into the top of the middle stump. (I For I).

As Chopra disappeared into the dressing room, one could not help but get the feeling that he is in for a long break from international cricket. In four innings in this series he has only 15 runs to his name.

Dravid was in next and out in a jiffy, Gillespie doing the damage again. The ball was similar to the one that got Chopra, the only difference being that Dravid, for the umpteenth time, got an inside edge onto the stumps. (2 for 9)

Tendulkar walked in to a standing ovation as he had in the first innings. Maybe, just maybe, he could help India gain respectability, if nothing else. However, Tendulkar was out after scoring just 2, driving awkwardly at a McGrath delivery that jumped off a length. The batsman could do little but fend at it and pop a catch to Martyn at point.

India were out of the game and there was a real possibility of the match getting over today itself. It was also Glenn McGrath's 450th wicket in Test cricket. (20 for 3). The Australian paceman has a stranglehold over the little master. By claiming his wicket for the sixth time in nine Tests, McGrath became Tendulkar's top bogeyman. Gillespie has claimed Tendulkar's wicket five times in eight Tests.

Laxman and the last remaining memories of Kolkata 2001 strode out together. The right-hander's form has been wretched. Five innings at an average of 12.75 isn't the kind of return one expects from a batsman of his class. Today, India more than ever needed him to come good, but his luck refused to change.

Kasprowicz replaced McGrath in the attack. His first ball was short and outside the off-stump; Laxman went for the hook, connected well, but, unfortunately, straight down the throat of McGrath at fine leg. (29 for 4).

Kaif, coming in after back-to-back half-centuries, played with energy for a few runs. One could see he was trying to fight the inevitable, but, like the others, he too perished. A good length delivery outside the off stump from Kasprowicz seamed just enough to take the edge. Gilchrist dived full length to his right and took it in front of first slip. (35 for 5)

At this stage, Sehwag had scored 22 and very little had come from the others. It was also interesting to note that India had 149 extras in six innings as opposed to the Aussies, who, in five innings, have conceded 58 till now in the match. Added to that is the difference in the fielding of both sides, which invariably means the Aussies start every match with a huge advantage.

Patel walked in next and he must have been very well aware that, in the aftermath of this defeat, his head might be among the first ones to roll. However, to his credit, he did not take the easy way out. He stuck it out in the middle and provided Sehwag the support he so desperately needed.

At tea, India were 84 for 5, with Sehwag on 49 and Patel on a well composed 21. In the 26-over session, the hosts scored 83 runs and lost five wickets.

Post-tea session (117 runs, 5 wickets, 26.3 overs)

The fightback did not last long after tea. The Aussies returned after evaluating how to get Sehwag out and then stuck to the plan. Warne returned after the break, bowling way outside leg-stump and forcing Sehwag to pad the ball. The ploy was simple: frustrate Sehwag and he will get out. It worked.

Sehwag danced down the track, looking to smash Warne out of the park, but did not get to the pitch of the ball. He went through the shot anyway and the top-edge carried to Clarke in the covers. (102 for 6).

The sixth-wicket partnership was worth 65 and rescued the Indians from the depths of mediocrity. Sehwag scored 58, the highest score for the Indians. Patel was gone 12 runs later after scoring a gritty 32. Gillespie was getting the ball to move off the wicket even in the 35th over and the delivery that got Patel pitched outside the off, straightened to take the edge on its way through to Gilchrist. (114 for 7).

Kumble (2) departed soon after, clean bowled by Gillespie. Kartik chanced his arm around to score 22 off 27 balls before McGrath got him to edge one to the Gilchrist.

Zaheer Khan and Agarkar put on a whirlwind 52 runs in 40 balls for the last wicket to give the spectators something to cheer about. But the wicket had to fall, and it did. Zaheer was caught brilliantly at deep mid-wicket by Martyn off Warne and the 'Final Frontier' was conquered, at last.

India were all out for 200. Zaheer was dismissed for 25 and Agarkar was left stranded on 44.

Going back to 2001, so great were Gillespie's efforts in the third Test in Chennai then that Cricket Australia (then the Australian Cricket Board) gave the fast bowler permission to skip the five-match ODI series immediately after.

Australia won by 342 runs.

Emotional scenes followed, with skipper Adam Gilchrist reduced to tears and the rest of the team embracing each other.

* Scores In Brief:

= Australia: 398 and 329-5 Declared = India 185 and 200 All-out. =Result: Australia Wins Test By 342 Runs. = Australia Wins four-Test series 2-0

The Two Teams:

India: A Chopra, V Sehwag, R Dravid (Capt), S R Tendulkar V V S Laxman, M Kaif, P A Patel (Wkt), A B Agarkar, A Kumble M Kartik, Zaheer Khan.

Australia: M L Hayden, J L Langer, S M Katich, D R Martyn D S Lehmann, M J Clarke, A C Gilchrist (Capt, Wkt), S K Warne M S Kasprowicz, J N Gillespie, G D McGrath.

The Two Umpires: Aleem Dar, D R Shepherd.

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