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Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson shine as Australia seal Brisbane Test

Brisbane: Mitchell Johnson inspired Australia to a four-wicket win over India to take a 2-0 series-lead with a day to spare in the second Gabba Test on Saturday.

The ICC Cricketer of the Year condemned India to defeat with a hostile spell of three for 10 in the space of 11 balls, ripping the heart out of the tourists` top order in the morning session.

Johnson snared four wickets for 61 off 17.3 overs as Australia dismissed India for 224 and were left needing 128 runs for victory.

The hosts made getting the job done difficult despite veteran opener Chris Rogers` second half-century of the match.

At the close, Australia were 130 for six with Mitchell Marsh hitting the winning runs and finishing six not out with Johnson on two.

The victory continued Australia`s formidable record at "fortress" Gabba where they have not lost a Test since 1988.

Johnson followed up his game-changing knock of 88 off 93 balls in Australia`s first innings with a dynamic spell of fast bowling to power his team to victory.

Steve Smith, captaining Australia for the first time since replacing the injured Michael Clarke, was named man of the match with his 133 in the first innings.

"Mitch certainly did it today for us with that little spell. He cracked the game open for us. All the bowlers produced the goods in this game," Smith said.

"It was just amazing the way that Mitch came out yesterday and took the bowlers on from ball one was outstanding. That was a big turning point in the game, to get that partnership there with Mitch."

India went into the fourth day at 71 for one but they never recovered from Johnson`s whirlwind bowling spell and they were bundled out in 64.3 overs.

Only Shikhar Dhawan (81) and Cheteshwar Pujara (43) offered any resistance in a meek Indian batting performance.

Nothing went right for the tourists on the fourth morning with Dhawan retiring hurt on his overnight score of 26 after being struck on the wrist in the practice nets before the start of play.

Johnson then shredded the top order, removing Virat Kohli (1), Ajinkya Rahane (10) and Rohit Sharma (0) in the space of 11 balls.

"I thought today`s first session was very crucial and I don`t think we handled it really well," skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.

"If we had got a decent partnership going and got a few more runs then we could have exploited the conditions more, but it was the morning session that had a big impact on the game."

Pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc compounded India`s woes with the wickets of skipper Dhoni (0) and Ravichandran Ashwin (19) to leave the tourists hanging on.

Pujara was out just before lunch for 43, caught by Nathan Lyon off a short ball from Hazlewood.

Dhawan, who returned to bat later in the morning, skilfully farmed the strike with Umesh Yadav, but the stubborn partnership ended, together with India`s hopes of mounting a lead big enough to defend, when Dhawan attempted an audacious sweep shot off spinner Lyon only to be trapped leg before wicket.

Varun Aaron then skied Lyon to Hazlewood for three and Yadav was caught behind off Johnson for 30 to end the innings.

Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin finished with three catches for the innings and nine for the match.

The Australians lost David Warner (6), Shane Watson (0), Rogers (55), Shaun Marsh (17), Steve Smith (28) and Brad Haddin (1) on the way to victory with Warner getting a painful blow on the left thumb in Yadav`s first over.

Team officials said that Warner had not suffered a fracture, raising his chances of being fit for the third Test in the four-match series, starting in Melbourne on Boxing Day.

India were critical of the state of practice wickets with Dhawan and Kohli both hurt in the morning hit-up before play.

The tourists said they had been asking for fresh net practice wickets for two days instead of using the worn-out strips that had an uneven bounce, but they said ground officials had been preparing new practice wickets for upcoming matches.

Queensland Cricket later tweeted: "Australians say no problems with them (practice wickets) and curator says they mirror exact state of the Test pitch in middle".

From Zee News

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