Mumbai, Nov. 5 (NNN): India’s spinners trio bowled Australia out for a paltry 93 to pull off an astounding 13-run consolation win against the visitors in the fourth Test and final Test at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on Friday on a pitch described by cricket pundits as “batsmen’s graveyard”.
Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik added three scalps on a minefield of a track for the visiting batsmen, who were unable to cope with the uneven bounce and sharp turn.
Only Matthew Hayden put up any real resistance, scoring 24 with four boundaries but the writing was on the wall for Australia after his dismissal made it 48 for five.
Jason Gillespie (nine not out) held on for 72 minutes but Harbhajan dismissed the last two batsmen as Australia finally folded up in 30.5 overs.
Australia still clinched the Border-Gavaskar trophy by winning the series 2-1, their first triumph in India since Bill Lawry's 1969 team.
Occasional left-arm spinner Michael Clarke had earlier picked up a career-best six for nine, bowling India out for 205 in their second innings after fighting half-centuries by VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar.
Laxman (69) and Tendulkar (55), both struggling for form, shared in a 91-run fourth wicket stand before Clarke dented local hopes by taking his wickets in 29 balls, including Rahul Dravid (27) and Mohammad Kaif (25).
Chasing a paltry 107 runs for victory, the Aussies were bowled out for 93 runs by the three-pronged Indian spin attack.
Zaheer Khan made early inroads into the Aussie batting, getting rid of Justin Langer with the second ball of the innings.
Murali Karthik then fuelled hopes of an Indian victory when he struck twice in his first over.
He dismissed Ricky Ponting, edging out to V V S Laxman at second slip. Damien Martyn followed soon after to leave Australia at 24-3.
Harbhajan Singh, who went wicketless in the first innings, then struck twin blows to dismiss Simon Katich for four and opening batsman Matthew Hayden for 24 as the visitors were left struggling at 48 for five.
Indian chances for a victory brightened when Karthik bowled Michael Clarke for seven. Bhajji followed it up with the wicket of Gilchrist, caught in the deep by Tendulkar for five.
Jason Gillespie and Nathan Hauritz then shared a 20-run wicket partnership and seemed set to take the match away from India. But veteran leg spinner Anil Kumble trapped Hauritz leg before wicket for 15 to leave the Aussies at 78 for eight.
When Harbhajan sent Michael Kasprowicz back to the pavilion, the Aussie scorecard read 93 for nine.
However, with the hosts requiring just 14 runs for victory, things could have gone either way. However, the Indians got better of the famous Aussie resilience as Harbhajan dismissed Glenn McGrath to pick up his fifth wicket of the innings and complete a famous Indian victory.
Murali Karthik won the man of the match award for his seven wicket haul in the innings.
Earlier in the day, India fought back through a 91-run partnership between Sachin Tendulkar (55) and V V S Laxman (69) in the first session before Nathan Hauritz (2-87) and Clarke dished out their magic.
The early morning start at Mumbai invariably means that there will be dew to assist the seamers. But the way Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie have been bowling one gets the feeling they will get wickets no matter what the conditions.
As has become the norm in the series, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag were out early, McGrath doing the damage. It took only three balls for the Aussies to strike. Gambhir's dismal start to his Test career continued. A good length delivery from McGrath pitched on middle and leg and continued with the angle across the left-hander.
Gambhir (1) came on the front foot and tried to defend, got an edge that flew to Michael Clarke, who took a good catch at second slip. India had lost a wicket without any addition to their overnight score of 5 runs for 1 wicket.
Laxman walked in at number three, and immediately Kolkata 2001 came to mind. It proved to be an inspired decision for him to bat at that position then.
But before Laxman could get into the act, McGrath snapped up Sehwag (5) too. The right-hander is known to go after the bowling, but for once he shouldered arms and the ball cut in sharply off the pitch to trap him leg-before the wicket. (14 for 2)
India's performance in the first innings was starting to mirror.
After Sehwag's dismissal, only one run came from five overs. McGrath was yet to conceded a run -- he bowled five overs and claimed two wickets.
After 10 overs, India were 15 for 2. It was a period of uneasy calm. The crowd was waiting for something to happen; something had to give.
Gillespie's next over yielded 14 runs -- three boundaries and a two for Tendulkar. Watching Tendulkar bat seemed to give Laxman heart as well. In the next over, an edge from Laxman went over the slips for a four -- the first runs off McGrath. He followed it up with a classic cover drive for four and another edge through the slip cordon for as many runs. That was enough for McGrath to start mouthing off but Laxman wasn't laughing.
By the end of the 14th over, India had reached 53 for 2. 38 runs had come in four overs. The hosts were now cruising. The 50-run partnership came off 81 balls. The highest partnership so far in the match before this was 44 between Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn for the third wicket when the Australians batted.
The wicket was more helpful to the spinners, and Nathan Hauritz had bowled well in the first innings. With the pacemen tiring, Ponting finally turned to the young off-spinner. Both the Indian batsmen were playing aggressively and this promised to be an interesting battle.
Hauritz's first over yielded five runs and Laxman faced all of it. His next over saw Tendulkar on strike, the first time the off-spinner was bowling to the master.
The first ball was short; Tendulkar savagely pulled it, but hit Katich at short-leg. Next ball, he danced down the track and smashed the ball through the covers. The third ball was clobbered for a six over mid-wicket -- huge, huge hit. After the shot, he acknowledged Laxman's applause with a nod, as if to say, I am back. Another four in the same area off the next ball and the crowd was jumping with joy.
A two in the next over and Tendulkar had reached his first fifty of the series -- 64 balls, 6 fours and 1 six. It was Tendulkar of old; the Tendulkar we all craved for. It was his seventh fifty against the Aussies and sixth in Mumbai.
India had changed their approach immensely; no longer were they content defending. It finally dawned on the team that the only way to bat on this pitch was to attack. Attack, indeed, was the best defence. It was also interesting to see that, perhaps for the first time in the series, Gillespie and McGrath bowled without a slip in place because of the changed approach.
Tendulkar and Laxman had played perfectly on this wicket. And just when one was hoping they could go on and on, Tendulkar made a huge error in judgment in Hauritz's eighth over.
He made up his mind to sweep well before the ball was bowled and ended up with a top-edge that looped high towards backward square leg. Clarke, at short fine leg, responded instantly and held on to a fine catch. (105 for 3)
Tendulkar scored 55 off 83 balls and the partnership for the third wicket was worth 91 runs. The master batsman would have been very cross with himself; the ball was short and he was nowhere near the pitch of it.
Rahul Dravid joined Laxman at the wicket with just over three overs to go before lunch. The duo quietly played out the remaining overs. In between, Laxman reached his 20th fifty in Test cricket and his sixth against the Aussies. Laxman was extremely positive in the morning session and let's hope Dravid is the same.
At lunch, India were 114 for 3, after 33 overs bowled in the morning session.
The second ball from Hauritz after lunch was launched into orbit by Dravid for four over mid-wicket. With that, the right-hander also reached 7000 runs in Test cricket. Another four two balls later and the Aussies immediately realized that even though Tendulkar was gone, there was going to be no let up fro the Indians.
Laxman and Dravid took quick singles, twos, rotated the strike, hit the boundaries and things seemed to be going exactly to plan. The lead was steadily building up and the Aussies were in for a battle now.
However, just when it looked like Laxman was back at his best, a typical moment of Aussie brilliance dismissed him. Laxman had hit the off-spinner for two consecutive fours, one pull through leg side and the next through the covers. He tried to punish Hauritz again but it did not go according to plan. The ball was hit hard but straight back to Hauritz, who dived to his left to take a brilliant catch. Laxman was gone for 69 and India were reduced to 153 for 4. The partnership for the fourth wicket was worth 48.
Kaif joined Dravid at the wicket and even though the runs kept coming, one could feel the change in momentum. The boundaries suddenly dried up, and once that happens the noose tends to tighten.
With Hauritz starting to tire for the first time in the series, Ponting thrust Clarke into the attack in the 56th over. It was an inspired choice. The left-arm orthodox bowler opted to bowl flat and fast. On a wicket like this it proved to be the correct tactic.
First to go was Dravid (27). The ball pitched outside the off stump and turned further away from the bat. The Indian skipper pushed forward to defend but while the ball missed the bat, it clipped the glove on its way to Gilchrist. It was Clarke's first wicket in Test cricket, and what a wicket it was! (182 for 5)
More mayhem was to follow, all thanks to some brilliant fielding by the Aussies. While the Indians had dropped Justin Langer, Damien Martyn and Clarke when they fielded, the Aussies granted them no such favours.
In Clarke's next over, new batsman Dinesh Karthik (4) tried to turn the ball away to the leg-side. But as the face of the bat turned, the ball spun and took the outside edge and sped towards Ponting, who had moved to silly point. It was straight off the bat and quick, but Ponting kept his eyes on the ball. Even as it passed him, he dived and plucked the catch out of thin air. The Aussie skipper had only 0.48 seconds to react and he did so successfully. The catch was a classic. (188 for 6)
Clarke was on fire and two overs later accounted for India's last remaining specialist batsman, Kaif. The right-hander offered no stroke, the ball hit him in line with the off-stump and looked likely to miss, but Koertzen had no doubt. (195 for 7)
Kaif had scored 25 and with him one felt that the last vestiges of a fightback were gone as well.
Tea was called immediately with India on 195 for 7. Anil Kumble was not out on 5 and Clarke's dream tour continued. His bowling figures at this point were 4.3-0-7-3.
Clarke has acquired the Midas touch on this tour. First with the bat and now with the ball, the 23-year-old has been a major contributor in the visitors' success. Only ten runs were added after the break before Australia cleaned out the tail in quick time.
Two balls into the session, Harbhajan Singh edged one from Clarke to Hayden at first slip and was gone for a duck. (195 for 8)
Four runs were added to the total before Murali Karthik (2), the new batsman, played down the wrong line to a ball Clarke pitched on the middle, which turned into him. The leg stump was pegged back and India were 199 for 9.
Zaheer (0) didn't last too long either. Clarke bowled from wide of the crease, fired the straighter one in, the right-hander tried to sweep and got hit on the pad in line with the stumps. (205 all out)
Clarke had figures of 6 for 9, the fourth best figures ever at Wankhede and the best by an Australian at the ground.
Altogether a total of 20 wickets fell in the day with slow left-armer Michael Clarke achieving remarkable figures of 6-9 as India were dismissed for 205.
Australia took the series 2-1, their first success in India since 1969-70.
However, there will be questions asked by coach John Buchanan and skipper Ricky Ponting about how they allowed victory to slip from their grasp in a match that was effectively decided over the course of two frenetic days.
Only 11 overs were possible on the opening day because of rain and bad light, but 18 wickets followed on day two in a match which turned into a nightmare for batsmen.
* Brief Scores:
= India First Innings: 104 = Australia First Innings: 203 = India Second Innings: 205 = Australia First Innings: 93
·Result Of The Match: India Won By 13 Runs. ·Results Of The 4-Match Series: Australia Won 2-1 ·Man Of The Match: Murali Kartik ·Man Of The Series: Damien Martyn
* The Two Teams:
India: Rahul Dravid (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Mohammad Kaif, Dinesh Karthik, Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan. 12th man: Ashish Nehra.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Michael Clarke, Simon Katich, Adam Gilchrist, Nathan Hauritz, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz, Glenn McGrath. 12th man: Cameron White.
= Umpires: Rudi Koertzen (South Africa) and Aleem Dar (Pakistan). = TV umpire: K. Hariharan (India). = Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (Sri Lanka).
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