Vineet Sharma/Zeenews Sports
Melbourne: Australia sealed the Boxing Day Test in their favour with clinical precision, mauling India by 122 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the four Test rubber.
The Oz pacers breathed fire at MCG and the Indian batting line-up offered no spine to the attack, collapsing like a pack of cards at a score of 169 runs. Siddle struck thrice in the second outing, also getting the prized scalp of Sachin Tendulkar (32), sealing the fate of the first Test. James Pattinson was the most lethal of all, claiming 4 scalps.
It was a dominant performance by the Aussie outfit on the field. VVS Laxman was claimed at a score of a run, sending the Australian camp into celebratory mode as he has been their nemesis in tight matches. The visitors had dug a hole for themselves as the batsmen failed to click in a game where it was needed the most. Virat Kohli was not effective either, falling for a duck.
Pattinson had sent shivers down the Indian camp by rattling the stumps of Rahul Dravid, who could not read the line and length correctly. Prior to this, Gautam Gambhir was dismissed by Siddle shortly after lunch at a score of 13 runs. With the scorecard reading 39/2 at Gambhir’s departure, the pressure was on India with a charged up Oz attack breathing down. They however, could not step up to the task at hands.
India had started the run-chase on the wrong foot, losing Virender Sehwag cheaply. Pattinson drew first blood as he saw Sehwag off at a score of 7 runs. From there on, it was a downward spiral with no respite for the Indians.
Gambhir looked edgy again on the turf, not up to the mark against the shorter ones and lobbed one to the second slip where Ponting took a neat catch. The opening stand was all the more crucial for the visitors as Sehwag had the capacity to take the game away from the opposition in quick time.
Australia were all out for 240 runs on the fourth day of the first Test against India, setting up a target of 292 runs for the visitors to chase down.
Michael Hussey was the man who stood tall before he was finally claimed by Zaheer Khan at a score of 89 runs. The Australian lead that crossed the 250-run mark was a cause of worry for Indian skipper MS Dhoni as statistics reveal that no team has chased 240+ at the MCG since 1962.
Dhoni paid the price for being over-defensive and his field placements baffled one and all because at no point did India look to create pressure on the home team but were rather waiting for chances to drop in their laps.
The last man to go was Ben Hilfenhaus (14) as he was claimed by Ishant Sharma to end the torture of the last wicket partnership that garnered as much as 43 runs before bowing out.
The Indian bowlers were lacklustre in their approach, lacking the energy to wrap the Oz tail fast and the runs in the morning session proved to be the deciding factor for the Australians in the Test.
In the end, the Indians were outplayed in all the departments by their Australian opponents, starting the Oz summer on a sombre note, lagging 1-0 in the series that is bound to get tougher with every passing day.