|Ground:||Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney|
|Scorecard:||Australia v India|
|Player:||MJ Clarke, SR Tendulkar, BW Hilfenhaus, MS Dhoni|
|Event:||India in Australia 2011/12|
DateLine: 6th January 2012
In association with Grace Hotel.
The name of Michael Clarke has been written all over this Test match. Leading the team for the first time in a home season after being appointed captain he has played by far the major role in Australia’s victory by an innings and 68 runs over India, the number two side in world rankings. The avalanche of runs that came from his bat, not only brought him personal glory but a colossal total that virtually sealed the fate of the opposition as early as the third afternoon. Thereafter the result seemed a mere formality with Australia going two nil up in the series shortly after tea on the fourth day.
Man of the match, Clarke's impact on the Test was further underlined in the India innings. Just when it seemed almost a certainty that Sachin Tendulkar was about to achieve that elusive hundredth Test century having reached 80 and batting with such fluency, Clarke, an occasional bowler, brought himself on and after just five overs of left-arm spin, he dismissed the great batsman shattering any hope that India may have had of at least going down fighting by taking the match into the final day.
Clarke said: "Our execution was very good. I'd like to give credit to our bowlers. I thought the way we bowled in the first innings set the match up for us and then to be able to take ten wickets on a really flat wicket out there today, they deserve a lot of credit. They continue to perform in any condition which is very pleasing for us."
Resuming their second innings on the overnight score of 114 for two and trailing by 354, India lost the wicket of Gautam Gambhir in the seventh over after the left-hander had added 15 to his overnight score of 68. Tendulkar was then on 41 having been scoring quite freely as he added 29 in the first half hour. With VVS Laxman joining him he formed India's highest stand as they put on 103 in thirty overs and showed that India were prepared to battle it out.
With Australia in such a strong position after the excesses of the previous day when Clarke and Michael Hussey had piled on the runs for an imposing total, the only interest left in the match from India's point of view was for Tendulkar to get to the hundred that the cricketing world was waiting for. He looked in fine form giving much hope to his supporters that the magical figure may well be forthcoming. He has been waiting long for it with his last Test century having been scored year ago and his last hundred in a one-day international too was as far back as March in the World Cup.
A lovely flick to square leg had taken him to 45 and the half century followed from 89 balls when he turned a ball from Peter Siddle to fine leg and ran two. He kept playing his strokes, a square cut for four and a single of the next ball took him to 60 and by lunch, which was taken on 3 for 243, he was on 70 with the help of two upper cuts over slips. Laxman wasn't far behind he brought up his half century from 92 balls. With the two batsmen so well set, Clarke was anxious for a breakthrough and along with himself he brought on Hussey, another occasional bowler, at the other end.
The ploy worked just after the hundred of the fourth wicket partnership when Clarke extracted a big turn off the pitch inducing Tendulkar forward and beating him to take the outside edge. The ball flew to the wicket-keeper and was deflected off his gloves to Hussey at slip. The great batsman was once again deprived of that hundred when he was so close to it.
With Tendulkar's dismissal Australia grabbed four wickets for 15 within the next seven overs. Laxman, on 66, was bowled by a brilliant ball from Ben Hilfenhaus which was pitched up and moved away very late to shave the top of off stump. With that India were 276 for five and ten runs later lost two more wickets. MS Dhoni gave a return catch to Hilfenhaus to become the bowler's fourth victim and Virat Kohli, on 9, was unlucky to be given lbw when the ball from James Pattinson seemed to be going down the leg side.
Some lusty hitting by Zaheer Khan brought him 35 from 26 balls adding 56 for the eighth wicket with Ravi Ashwin. The ninth wicket then added 42 and Ashwin's 62 runs helped to boost his side's total to 400. Hilfenhaus' excellent swing bowling gave him a five-wicket haul for 106.
India captain Dhoni said, in answering if he was worried about India's performance abroad: "In the last two series, including (this in) Australia and in England, we didn't score enough runs. To win Test matches of course you have to take 20 wickets that is very important but you also have to give that cushioning of having extra runs on the board so that the bowlers can plan the opposition out."
He added: "It is a bit of a worry but the good thing is that in the second innings we saw the batsmen score runs, of course it was not good enough to defend the Test match but what we have seen in the last couple of Test matches everybody has scored a fifty which gives us an indication that we need to convert those into big innings and put runs on the board."
- For the Day 1 report please click here
- For the Day 2 report please click here
- For the Day 3 report please click here
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)