|Ground:||Adelaide Oval, Adelaide|
|Scorecard:||Australia v India|
|Player:||V Sehwag, RT Ponting, SR Tendulkar|
|Event:||India in Australia 2011/12|
DateLine: 27th January 2012
In association with Rendezvous Hotel.
It shouldn't be more than an hour or so on the final morning before India's lamentable batting is brought to an end with Australia wrapping up the fourth Test and the series in a clean sweep. A dispirited India side seemed to lack the will to battle it out to save the Test. When a determined application at the crease was called for, they instead chose to play reckless strokes, giving the wickets away as if resigned to their fate.
Set a daunting target of 500 in nearly two sessions and a day, India found runs hard to come by or even stay at the crease for long periods as has been the case throughout the series. It didnít take long for Australia to get among the wickets with the first falling in the fifth over with just 14 on the scoreboard. Ryan Harris had moved the ball just enough from the left handed Gautam Gambhir to take the outside edge. Virender Sehwag batted in the only way he knows playing aggressive and risky shots.
With Peter Siddle, in such fine form in the series and with five for 49 in the first innings, being brought on, Sehwag remained unconcerned. He promptly took three boundaries in the first over. The second and third balls were despatched to cover and extra cover and the fifth was driven off the back foot to cover point. In his next over, Sehwag played a square drive to the point boundary which took him to 36. The bowler, having conceded 20 runs in just two overs was replaced by off spinner Nathan Lyon for the twelfth over.
Sehwag, the stand-in captain, brought up India's 50 with a square drive to point off Harris and then reached his own half century from just 36 balls and in flamboyant style with two boundaries off consecutive balls from Lyon. He made room for him to cut for the first of those fours and then went down the pitch for a lofted four to mid-off. But on 62, having struck 12 boundaries, he went down the pitch to a full toss from Lyon and was held off a leading edge at short cover.
After an hour-and-a-half at the crease Rahul Dravid edged to gully. It was a poor shot with him reaching to drive a ball well outside off stump and ten runs later India were reduced to 110 for four with Sachin Tendulkar, on 13, falling to a bat and pad catch off Lyon. This has to be the great batsman's last Test innings in this country and the crowd aware of it gave him a rousing standing ovation as he walked back.
A stand of 52 between VVS Laxman and Virat Kohli briefly raised hopes that India could bat well into the fifth day but spinner off Lyon put an end to it with Laxmanís wristy flick, from outside off stump, held at short midwicket. Kohli was run out in the penultimate over as he went for a sharp single needlessly to protect the nightwatchman.
Earlier, resuming on the overnight score of 50 for 1 with Ricky Ponting on 1 and Michael Clarke on 9, Australia went for quick scoring without taking unnecessary risks. The lead already was substantial and it was a question of how many Clarke would consider to be enough to put the game beyond India. He also needed to give his bowlers enough time to take ten wickets. They scored 61 within the first hour and then lost Clarke with Umesh Yadav coming on and having the Australia captain caught behind in his second over for 37. Clarke was not happy at the decision and from the replay it wasn't clear if there had been a faint edge. Australia's lead by then had been extended to 443.
At a slower pace, Ponting and David Hussey then added 36 from ten overs and Ponting on 45 was dropped off Yadav. It was a mistimed hook and Dravid made good ground at midwicket to get both hands to the ball. A lofted straight drive off, Ravi Ashwin, took the former Australia captain to 49 and the half century followed from 73 balls. On 147 the fifth wicket fell with Ishant Sharma trapping Hussey in front of the stumps as he pushed forward with the ball coming across him. That was four overs before lunch which was taken on 154 for five and Australia with a lead of 486.
With a view to setting India an unlikely target, Clarke batted for ten minutes into the second session and declared on 167 for five from 46 overs. Ponting, following his double century in the first innings was unbeaten on 60 from 96 balls. Not having been able to score a century in nearly two years, Ponting has now had a great series with an aggregate of 544 runs at an average of 108.04 while Clarke has amassed 626, averaging 125. Both these batsmen have put India under enormous pressure with sheer weight of runs through the series.
Lyons said: "It was an absolute privilege to get him (Tendulkar) out but there are still four wickets to get tomorrow morning, so the job's not done as far as we are concerned so we'll have to turn up and be on our game and hopefully get these four wickets."
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2012 Andy Jalil)