- India dismissed for 169 in pursuit of 292
- Tendulkar out for 32, Pattinson takes four wickets
- Australia tail wags to frustrate tourists
MELBOURNE (Reuters): Australia’s makeshift pace attack tore through India’s formidable batting unit to secure a 122-run victory on the fourth day of the first test on Thursday.
After leaving India reeling on 117-6 at tea, the hosts dismissed the tourists for 169 at a sun-drenched Melbourne Cricket Ground to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series with more than a day to spare.
Any faint hopes of a late fightback in India’s forlorn pursuit of 292 for victory were snuffed out in the second over after the interval when paceman Peter Siddle fired a short delivery that cannoned into Ravichandran Ashwin’s gloves.
The rebound popped into the air, allowing Ed Cowan to jog under the ball and take a simple catch behind the wicket, cutting short an enterprising knock of 30 from the spinner.
India’s wicketkeeper-captain MS Dhoni and Zaheer Khan tried to rally with a defiant 24-run stand before James Pattinson removed his fellow paceman with a thick edge off his pad that also looped to Cowan at short leg.
Man of the Match Pattinson, who took four wickets in the second innings, struck again in his next over when Dhoni played onto his stumps as he launched an ambitious swipe at a delivery that had kept its line outside the off stump.
Spinner Nathan Lyon took the last wicket when Umesh Yadav, who blasted a six in his 21, was caught by David Warner near the rope after trying the same shot two balls later.
The catch sparked jubilant scenes as Australia’s players charged to the middle for a group hug, whooping with joy after sewing up an impressive win with a bowling force weakened by a host of injuries to form players and regular starters.
“It’s a great start to the series,” Australia captain Michael Clarke said at the presentation ceremony. “India are a fantastic team and it’s great to get a win up but we know they’ll come back hard at us in (the second test at) Sydney.”
Siddle, a fiery redhead from rural Victoria, had earlier all but crushed India’s hopes of securing an improbable victory when he removed Sachin Tendulkar for 32 after lunch to leave the tourists flailing at 81-6.
The dismissal concluded a disastrous batting collapse from an experienced top order in which India lost five wickets for 57 runs in the second session, as Australia’s quicks unleashed a withering assault of pace and accuracy.
“You have to give credit to the Australian bowling attack because they bowled really well,” Dhoni said. “We are known to be tentative starters and I think in the next game it will be slightly better.”
Tendulkar entered the fray to a huge roar from the crowd of 25,000, where one of the many tribute banners read: “100 or no 100, Sachin is number one.”
The master batsman raised his head briefly as if seeking inspiration from higher powers, then settled down on a mission to rescue India’s innings and secure an elusive 100th international century in the process.
The 38-year-old right-hander could only look on from the other end as three partners departed cheaply before Siddle drove the final nail in the coffin, tempting Tendulkar with a fuller delivery that he drove straight to Michael Hussey in the gully.
The “Little Master” received another standing ovation from the crowd as he trudged off with head bowed, likely his last appearance at the MCG, while Siddle was mobbed by his joyous team mates.
India’s victory target had not been bettered at the MCG since South Africa chased down 297 in 1953, and although it was an attainable total after Australia were dismissed for 240 in their second innings, it should have been less. After Zaheer had Hussey caught behind for 89, the paceman dropped Pattinson on 15 after a skied slog off Yadav’s bowling.
Pattinson, playing his third test, went on to blast an unbeaten 37 and build an invaluable partnership of 43 with Hilfenhaus, who was caught in the slips off Ishant Sharma to wrap up the innings.
“In both innings, their lower order they scored a bit of runs and that really made the difference,” Dhoni added.