With a four-wicket win against India on the fourth day in Brisbane, Australia took a 2-0 lead in the four-Test series. Mitchell Johnson's 4/61 bowled India out for 224 earlier in the day to set-up the match in the hosts' favour. He claimed the Indian middle-order in about half hour's play in the morning with his pace and bounce and backed India into the corner. With Josh Hazlewood accounting for MS Dhoni, the visitors were reduced to 87/5 after resuming on 71/1. Shikhar Dhawan who had not been able to resume his innings due to an injury sustained during practice, came out to bat at 117/6 and determinedly extended the Indian innings. He built a valuable 60-run partnership with Umesh Yadav before returning to the pavilion. The tail was then wrapped up for addition of 21 runs. (Also See: HIGHLIGHTS: AUSTRALIA VS INDIA - 2nd TEST, DAY 4, The Gabba, Brisbane)
Chasing 128, the home team lost wickets in a rush despite being comfortably placed. With the exception of Chris Rogers' quick 55 off 79, wickets fell at regular intervals the other end.
David Warner took a few blows to the body as Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma hit the deck hard upfront. Although the tall pacer was clubbed to the boundary through fine-leg and cover by Chris Rogers the bowler followed up with two wickets in his next two overs. He forced an outside edge through to the wicketkeeper from the explosive left-hand opener while Shane Watson top-edged the bouncer and Dhoni took the catch.
Australia were trailing by 103 runs with eight wickets in hand when Chris Rogers and Steven Smith resumed the chase. While Ishant kept the flow in check the pair bided their time at the crease initially. The opener however soon began to glean runs off the bowling and reduce the deficit and inched towards his fifty. Smith was meanwhile let-off by Kohli while on nine off Aaron as the bowlers strove to keep the batsmen in check.
Rogers pulled Aaron to the fence and raced to his fifty but in the next over edged Ishant to Dhawan in the slips for 55. Shaun Marsh who then joined the stand-in Australia captain was removed by Umesh Yadav for 17. However, in a rush to the finish line Smith was run-out scampering for a second run.
With six runs needed, Mitchell Marsh joined the wicketkeeper batsman in the middle, but in Yadav's next over Brad Haddin departed playing a lofted shot. Mitchell Marsh then took the team across the line with Johnson.
Earlier, India started off on a back-foot in the morning as Dhawan who was batting on 26 at the end of third day's play did not come in to bat on the fourth morning with Cheteshwar Pujara. Virat Kohli who took guard in the morning looked unsettled and soon played on to the stumps to return for one. In his next over Johnson accounted for two more. While Ajinkya Rahane departed fending to Nathan Lyon at backward point, the fast bowler forced an outside edge of Rohit Sharma to the wicketkeeper.
In the next over, the India captain was adjudged leg-before in Josh Hazlewood's second delivery of the day. In a space of 20 deliveries and 11 runs India had lost four key wickets.
With India still trailing by 10 runs, Ravichandran Ashwin joined Pujara in overcoming the deficit. But the partnership too was nipped in the bud. With a lead of 20, Mitchell Starc accounted for the lower-order bat.
The visitors were tottering on 117/6 when Dhawan walked out to join Pujara in the middle and the pair trudged on. The batsmen were kept on a tight leash by the hosts. When brought back into the attack in the last quarter of the session, Johnson forced edges and tested the batsman. But the pair battled to stay in the game and had added 26 until Hazlewood ended Pujara's resistance with a short ball. Couple of overs before lunch, Pujara was caught at point for 43.
With Umesh Yadav, Dhawan then took India to Lunch at 157/7 with a 60-run lead. The opener resumed the second session with a couple of powerful hits to fence to reach fifty. He worked to keep the strike as he strove to extend the innings with the tail-ender. His gritty knock had taken the lead to 106 when Dhawan was trapped lbw by Lyon for 81. In the off-spinner's next Varun Aaron lofted him to point and returned to the dressing room. Yadav hit Lyon for couple of sixes over long-off and long-on later in the over to add useful runs to the total. A little later he nicked Johnson to Brad Haddin behind the wickets and was the last to depart.
Johnson who had been wicketless in the first innings, turned the tables on India with a crucial 88 off 93 and followed-up with four-for to bowl India out.
Match result: Australia won
End of Day 1: India 1st inn 311/4 in 83 overs (M Vijay 144, A Rahane 75*, R Sharma 26*, J Hazlewood 2/44)
End of Day 2: India 1st inn 408 all out in 109.4 overs (A Rahane 81, J Hazlewood 5/68, N Lyon 3/105); Australia 1st inn 221/4 in 52 overs (S Smith 65*, C Rogers 55, U Yadav 3/48)
End of Day 3: Australia 1st inn 505 all out in 109.4 overs (S Smith 133, M Johnson 88, M Starc 52, I Sharma 3/101); India 2nd inn 71/1 in 23 overs (M Vijay 27, S Dhawan 26*, M Starc 1/10)
End of Day 4: India 2nd inn 224 all out in 64.3 overs (M Dhawan 81, C Pujara 43, M Johnson 4/61, M Starc 2/27, N Lyon 2/33); Australia 2nd inn 130/6 in 23.1 overs (C Rogers 55, I Sharma 3/38)
Debutant: Josh Hazlewood for Australia
Man of the Match:
Steve Smith is the Man of the Match. "Extremely satisfying," he says. "The boys played some very good cricket the last four days and it's very satisfying to come out with a win. First day was very tough, the boys were dropping like flies. Credit to how they came out and bowled on the second morning. First innings runs are crucial here and getting a lead of 90 was handy. Josh Hazlewood is an outstanding bowler and he's started extremely well for Australia. Mitchell Johnson, Mr. Reliable, as always. I don't think it was advisable [winding up Johnson], and that partnership really set the game up for us. It's always tough playing against India, they've played some extremely good cricket and we just won the key moments. It's been an amazing thrill over the last week to captain this side, the boys have been outstanding and backed me up nicely."
MS Dhoni: "It's not about how near you are, it's about what actually happened. The first session today was a big debacle for us. There was a lack of communication in our dressing room over whether Shikhar will go into bat or Virat. We did not handle that situation well. We were having a bat at the nets, the wickets were not very good and he got hit. Didn't react too badly so we thought he was fine to bat. By the time he came in he was in a lot of pain and unable to bat. We were only able to give Virat 5-7 minutes to prepare. That created some unrest in the dressing room. I think Mitchell batted really well. Once you get close to the new ball, the ball goes soft and the bowlers get tired. He played his shots and he was a little lucky too. Nothing went to the fielders and he was able to score. I'm pretty happy with how we have played. We have shortcomings but I'm happy how the bowlers have shaped up. We have tried both five bowlers and an extra batsman, but neither has really grabbed the opportunity. They are a talented side and they have self-belief. For a few of them they are coming here for the first time and they haven't really succumbed to the pace factor. It's a pleasure playing in front of a big crowd in Melbourne. It's a special day as well (Boxing Day) and hopefully it will be good for us."