Resuming this morning eight down, the Australian tail added 74 runs for the last two wickets, a significant contribution considering the size of the victory. James Pattinson again batted well, being not out for a second time in the match and recorded the highest score in his fledgling career. Zaheer Khan finished with four wickets, including the prizes of Ricky Ponting yesterday and Michael Hussey this morning.
292 was always going to be too steep a mountain for India to climb but romantics might have entertained the thought of it, given the presence of Dravid and Tendulkar. The departure of Sehwag, cutting loosely to Hussey in the gully from Hilfenhaus was exactly the start Australia wanted. It wasn't a great ball and it was a worse shot but such is the quandary of having Sehwag at the top of the order. Siddle came on at first change and had Gambhir in his second over, playing away from his body with feet stuck on the crease and edging at head Height to Ponting's safe hands.
|Dravid bowled by Pattinson|
Tendulkar played delightfully again and was untroubled by the Australians ... right up until Peter Siddle returned for his third spell and with a warm up ball which had just the right line but 10kms less speed, he claimed Tendulkar for a second time in the match as he appeared to play slightly too early and was caught in the gully by the resurgent Hussey. India 6-81 and the game was over.
|Peter Siddle was the leader|
of the pace pack in Melbourne
This was a startling win by Australia, with Nathan Lyon taking the last wicket to fall - an outstanding running catch at deep long on by David Warner - and the fast bowlers the rest, shared as evenly as could be imagined. Apart from the attack of dropsy with Sehwag in the first innings, the Australians caught and fielded up to the mythical standards expected of cricketers in this country. The batting was again brittle but Cowan, Warner, Clarke and Hussey all made contributions at some stage but in a low scoring match, in a match where batsmen found it hard to go beyond thirty, Ponting's pair of 60's were a mark of class which equalled Tendulkar.
|Ponting scored 62 & 60 -|
21% of Australia's runs
India have a lot to do in little time. Gambhir looks unlikely on bouncy wickets but pared down touring sides don't often have good option when an opener falls out with his job. Virat Kohli is a wonderful fieldsman but Rohit Sharma by far the better man to be occupying No 6. The bowling was good and needs no tinkering. Yadav was particularly impressive and whilst Zaheer has lost much of his zip, his craft is untarnished and his offerings in Melbourne are only samplers of what is to come. The problem might be Ishant Sharma. He bowled without luck but his ankle can collapse at any time. Ashwin has as ugly an action that any member of the off spin fraternity has ever had but he can bowl. Perhaps he needs to try a little less variation as often and be patient.
This was an excellent win and regardless of what you think of the ICC ratings system, series wins by Australia and South Africa will drop India down to third and within striking distance by Australia. Australia has finished the calendar year with four wins, three losses (including the 5th Test loss against England in Sydney) and two draws. That not bad for a side that is rebuilding its playing staff, its support staff, its administration and rediscovering its supporter base. Changing one thing would have been difficult enough but Australia has changed everything, so those results are encouraging.
Put a tick in Michael Clarke's column now ... go on, he's earned it.