Bowlers inspire India to a series win over Australia (Lead)November 10th, 2008 - 5:25 pm ICT by IANS
Nagpur, Nov 10 (IANS) A late burst from spinners Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra inspired India to a 172-run victory over Australia in the fourth and last Test and lift the Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2-0 at the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) Stadium here Monday.Chasing 382 to win, a middle-order collapse saw their second innings fold up for 209 unable to cope with the spin-twins Harbhajan (4-64) and Mishra (3-27). India made 441 in the first innings and 295 in the second. Australia made 355 in the first.
Ironically, it was here four years ago that Australia won the trophy, but this time around, for the first time in seven years, they failed to win a match in a Test series.
Australia, trailing 0-1, came to Nagpur in a must-win situation to retain the trophy. But India called the shots right from the day one under the shrewd captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who also maintained a 100 percent win record from three Tests.
On the final day, Australia needed 369 runs to win. but it was the Indians who were on course to victory, having taken three wickets in the first session. However, some sloppy fielding helped the visitors go to lunch at 111 for three.
Australia showed urgency as they scored briskly in the morning session, when 98 runs came from 21.3 overs. Matthew Hayden, riding on luck, struck a fine 77 to lead the Australian fightback.
Zaheer Khan and man-of-the-series Ishant Sharma bowled a probing line and length with the new ball and the latter was duly rewarded as Simon Katich (16) went for a slog pull and the resultant skier was pouched by wicketkeeper Dhoni. An indisposed Michael Clarke (22) came to bat with a runner but he was at the receiving end of the lanky fast bowler who forced him to nick one to Dhoni.
Australia skipper Ricky Ponting’s poor luck continued as he was run-out by a brilliant direct hit by Amit Mishra charging in from mid-off. Ponting was lucky as he edged the very first ball he faced from Zaheer but fell short of Rahul Dravid at first slip.
Hayden, however, carried on in an aggressive manner, looking to score off almost every delivery. He made the best of the two lives he got from Dhoni and Dravid when he was on 30 and 36 respectively.
India came out with a better plan in the post-lunch session as they operated with spinners Harbhajan and Mishra and they extracted both turn and bounce from the wicket.
Mishra was the first to strike, Hussey gloving to Rahul Dravid and in the next over Harabhajan trapped Hayden leg before the wicket.
Once Hayden left, it was a matter of time. Harbhajan and Mishra ran through the lower-order and it was all over by tea time.