December 22, 2007

perth the real battle

India's win is just their fifth on Australian soil in the 60 years of Test matches between the teams played in this country, and the first time in 11 years that Australia has lost a Test in Perth.

It is also the first time Australia has been defetaed in a Test match since going down to England in the fourth Test of the 2005 Ashes series at Trent Bridge, and halts an unbroken run of 16 victories that began against South Africa in the Boxing Day Test of 2005-06.

Australia enjoyed a strong opening hour on the fourth day, with Ricky Ponting building on a good start the previous evening. Mike Hussey supported his skipper as the pair added 74 for the third wicket. They looked set to push the home side back into the contest before Ponting was deceived on 45, edging to Dravid off Sharma.
Worse was to follow after lunch with Hussey (46) falling lbw to RP Singh and Symonds following in a similar fashion courtesy of Anil Kumble for 12.

Michael Clarke produced the most fluent batting display of the innings with a stylish and measured 81, and he may well have proved the difference had he not started to run out of partners to chase down the record total.

Adam Gilchrist threatened to unleash with one signature pull stroke, but even he could not withstand the Indian pressure. Part-time spinner Virender Sehwag claimed the valuable scalp, bowling him around his legs as the keeper attempted a sweep stroke.

Brett Lee came and went without troubling the scorers as Sehwag picked up a second wicket, putting India within touching distance of a famous win.

However a rearguard action was delivered by Mitchell Johnson, who blazed his way to a first career Test half century with some truly breathtaking shots. Stuart Clark formed the perfect ally and the pair threw the bat at anything bowled in their immediate direction.

Both batsmen rode their luck with several near misses, but India finally struck the telling breakthrough when Clark edged one to Dhoni off Man of the Match Irfan Pathan (3-54). He had made a heroic 32.

Australia's fate was sealed when Shaun Tait was clean bowled by the impressive Singh for four, dismissing the home side for 340, with Johnson unbeaten on 50.

The final wicket sparked jubilous celebrations among Indian players and fans alike, with Harbhajan Singh charging to the pitch with the National Flag in hand. The series ledger is now back to 2-1 in Australia's favour, and the 3 mobile Test Series moves to its final stop in Adelaide with a genuine contest expected to result in a sizeable crowd over the Australia Day long weekend.

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