India 503 (Pujara 204, Vijay 167, Maxwell 4-127) beat Australia 237 for 9 dec (Clarke 91, Wade 62, Jadeja 3-33, Bhuvneshwar 3-53) and 131 (Ashwin 5-63, Jadeja 3-33) by an innings and 135 runs
HYDERABAD (TIP): When India’s confidence was rattled by the drubbings in Australia and England over the past two years, they took solace in their outstanding home record. Even that bit of relief had been taken away when Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann outspun India earlier this season, but India’s belief at home has come surging back with two thumping victories over Australia. Though it was widely expected that Australia would go down on the fourth day, few thought it would happen with the embarrassing rapidity that it did.
Australia’s batsmen were once again nonplussed by the turning ball to subside to 131 all out, handing India an inningsand- 135-run victory and a 2-0 series lead. If Australia’s chances were slim at the start of the day, they vanished with two deliveries of vastly contrasting quality. Ishant Sharma got his first wicket of the series with a harmless ball sliding down the leg side which Shane Watson guided through to the wicketkeeper.
Ravindra Jadeja, usually the butt of derogatory jokes from Indian fans despite a stellar first-class record, then produced the ball of the match, a delivery that drifted onto middle stump and spun back to beat Michael Clarke’s forward defensive to crash into off. From then it was only a matter of time. Ed Cowan had gritted it out for nearly three hours, forgetting the deliveries that ripped past his outside edge to concentrate afresh.
Jadeja, with his tail up after that magic ball to Clarke, ended Cowan’s resistance on 44 as an edge ricocheted off MS Dhoni’s gloves deflected to Virender Sehwag at slip. It got even better for Jadeja soon after as he lasered in a throw from cover to run out Moises Henriques, who was yards out despite Jadeja fumbling the ball before collecting it. Then the man who started Australia’s slide on Monday evening, R Ashwin, took over. He has kept his Twenty20 variations to a minimum this series, and cleverly used them against the lower order. Glenn Maxwell was looking towards square leg after attempting a flick only to be confounded by the carrom ball that was heading for the off stump. There was time left for Ashwin to complete his eighth five-for in 11 home Tests.
While the capitulation on Tuesday morning was painful viewing for Australia fans, much of the damage had been done by the batting failure on the first day, when the pitch was at its best. Just three months ago, the much-coveted No. 1 Test ranking was within Australia’s grasp and Clarke and the team management seemed to be able to do no wrong. After the two defeats, he will be assailed by questions, just as Dhoni has been over the past couple of years.
The result will be a major source of relief for Dhoni, who after settling doubts over his Test batting in Chennai has now become India’s most successful Test captain with 22 wins.
The next match is in Mohali, typically a swing-friendly surface, but given Australia’s ineptness against spin, the curators are likely to work overtime to produce a turning track there as well.