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Even India wouldn’t have dreamed of an end so terse. A couple of hours into the opening session on the fourth day of the second Test, all hopes of a typical Australia fightback vaporized like acetone on warm skin. India ran away winners by an innings and 135 runs, having needed just 35 overs on Tuesday to take the eight wickets that stood between them and a 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
The victory took MS Dhoni past Sourav Ganguly as India’s most successful Test captain: 22 wins in 45 matches, to Ganguly’s 21 in 49. For Australia, the statistics were less kind. They became the first team ever to lose by an innings after declaring their first innings closed.
Cheteshwar Pujara was named Man of the Match for his first innings 204, his second Test double hundred. India were also served well by Murali Vijay's 167 in the first essay.
Resuming on 74/2, the visitors collapsed like a badly baked cake to 131 all out. The central figures were once again India’s spinners – although Australia’s batsmen displayed very little intent in prolonging their stays in the middle. Ravichandran Ashwin (5/63) and left-arm spinning all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (3/33) did the most of the damage.
Jadeja opened the bowling with Ishant Sharma and turned in 18 overs on the trot, his haul including the prized scalp of Michael Clarke (16), done in with a delectable away turner that slipped past the Aussie captain’s defence and took out off stump. Although Clarke’s dismissal portended the shape of things to come, the going was sorry for his team right from the get-go.
Overnight batsman Shane Watson (10) became Ishant’s first victim of the match - his first, indeed, in the last three matches – in the third over of the morning. The all-rounder, playing purely as a batsman here, was out chasing easy runs, patting a delivery down the leg-side to Dhoni behind wicket.
A sequence of rued chances followed. Ed Cowan, who had also resumed overnight, was dropped on 31 by substitute Shikhar Dhawan at short leg, off the bowling of Jadeja. Clarke too survived a vociferous appeal for a catch down the leg-side against Ishant, and responded by going inside-out for six against the left-arm spinner in the next over.
The writing was now on the wall. Clarke was out to a Jadeja beauty, the kind that undid Moises Henriques in the first innings and Cowan, who was dropped again (on 44) by Dhawan at forward short-leg, finally ran out of luck. The left-handed Aussie opener went for the cut against Jadeja, the resultant edge ricocheted off Dhoni’s pads and was pouched alertly by Virender Sehwag at slip. Jadeja next ran out Moises Henriques (0) with a direct hit from short cover.
IPL millionaire Glenn Maxwell (8) was trapped ‘lbw’ off an Ashwin carom ball. Peter Siddle (4) departed to a mirror image of Cowan’s dismissal, the edge taken by Sehwag after it lobbed up from Dhoni’s pads. Mathew Wade and James Pattinson became Ashwin’s fourth and fifth victims respectively, the latter wicket ending things overwhelmingly in the home team’s favour.