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Australia go 2-0 up in Test series with Innings win at Sydney

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sachin_tendulkarAustralia crushed India by an innings and 68 runs in the second test at the SCG, thereby taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the 4 match series. In what is threatening to become a repeat of the whitewash India suffered at the hands of England last summer, the visitors would be harbouring worries of losing their second straight overseas series 4-0, especially considering the SCG was widely considered their best hope of producing a result on this tour. That being said, India did produce a much better batting performance in their second innings, posting a decent total of 400. However, given how much Australia got, it just wasn't good enough on this flat deck. Ben Hilfenhaus was the pick of the Aussie bowlers, finishing with 5/106 in the second innings, the second straight match where he has picked up a 5-fer. India saw half-centuries from Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and R Ashwin today, but really needed one of the big two to go on and make a big hundred to try and force this match into a fifth day.

India, coming into day 4 at the SCG on 114/2 still 354 runs adrift from the Aussie 1st innings, would have had little hope of salvaging anything from this match, taking into account the way the game progressed over the last couple of days.

Overinght batsmen, Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar took the attack the Aussies smashing them for 55 runs off the first 7 overs of the match. Gambhir(83) was very fluent to start off with, cutting the ball with through point with great poise, but he played too early at a straight delivery from Siddle that took his leading edge and lobbed to the man at deepish point in the 8th over of the match.

Sachin on the other hand looked in sublime form cutting and flicking anything loose from the Aussie bowlers. He was particularly severe on Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson, and pounced on balls that were dragged down on this placid pitch. VVS Laxman, who looked completely out of sorts in this series so far, came in at No.5 and looked positive right from the start. The introduction of Nathan Lyon at the start of his innings, aided his desperate attempt to get into some sort of form as he took to the off-spinner right from the outset, driving him against the turn assuredly through the off side. He added a further 75 runs unbeaten with before lunch with Tendulkar to encourage some thoughts of saving the test match. At lunch, India were 243/3 with Laxman (44*) and Tendulkar (70*) looking well set and ominous.

Having added 129 runs in the first session for just the loss of just 1 wicket, the Indian team looked on course to giving their hosts some punishment in return for their two tiring days in the field. But any hopes of a revival and a fightback in the series were dashed early after lunch, when Tendulkar (80) was dismissed, edging a ball spinning away from him off Michael Clarke straight to safe hands of Mike Hussey at slip. It was another heartbreak for the Indian fans as the little master yet again fell agonisingly short of that elusive 100th international ton. It was pure magic though as far as the Aussie skipper was concerned, adding to his incredible 329 with the wicket of the opposition's best batsman.

Tendulkar's dismissal triggered yet another dramatic collapse. Laxman (66) perished soon after as Hilfenhaus castled his off stump with a late away swinger with the second new ball. India's captain came in at No.7 and he too lost his wicket in a rather bizzare manner in his attempt to dig out a yorker length delivery. He managed to meet the ball on its way off the ground and scooped a simple catch back to the bowler Hilfenhaus, leaving the innings in tatters. Virat Kohli (9) promised in his brief stay before a ball staying low from Pattinson, trapped the Delhi batsman in front.

Zaheer Khanslogged his way to 35 in very quick time and added some lower order runs with R Ashwin (27*) to get India past the 300 mark. But his stay ended as a half hearted slog resulted in him scooping one to Shaun Marsh at point. Hence, at tea on day 4 India were on the verge of yet another big defeat, their sixth in a row overseas as they were 351/8, two wickets away from being 2-0 down in the series.

Ashwin continued to play sensible cricket and put the bad balls to the boundary, getting some payback for the 157 runs he conceded in the Australian innings. The talented no.8 posted a well compiled 50 from just 56 deliveries, his innings punctuated with 8 hits to the fence and one over it.

Ishant Sharma kept Ashwin company for half-an-hour after Tea, scoring 11 before falling leg before to Nathan Lyon, handing Australia's off-spinner his first wicket of the match. At 384/9, India needed an unlikely 84 run stand from their last wicket pair to make Australia bat again. Psychologically though, getting to 400 would have been a decent achievement, and that is exactly how many India scored with R Ashwin the last man to be dismissed for 62, caught pulling Ben Hilfenhaus, thereby giving the innocuous Aussie pacer another 5 wicket haul.

he Indian think tank has a lot of work to do before the teams resume battle in exactly a week's time at Perth. Virat Kohli's spot in the playing eleven will undoubtedly be under threat from a very much in form Rohit Sharma, while the inability of the bowlers to pick up more than 4 wickets in this match raises grave concerns about India's ability to challenge the Aussies in the rest of the series.

Teams:

Australia:·Ed Cowan, D Warner, S Marsh, R Ponting, M Clarke, M Hussey, B Haddin, J Pattinson, P Siddle, N Lyon, B Hilfenhaus

India: V Sehwag, G Gambhir, R Dravid, S Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, V Kohli, MS Dhoni, R Ashwin, Zaheer Khan, I Sharma, U Yadav

Mini Scorecard:

India 1st Innings 191 all out (59.3 overs)
S Tendulkar 41 (89) J Pattinson 4/43
MS Dhoni 57* (77) P Siddle 3/55

Australia 1st Innings 659/4 decl (163 overs)
M Clarke 329*(468) Z Khan 3/122
M Hussey 150* (253) I Sharma 1/144

India 2nd Innings 400 all out (110.5 overs)
G Gambhir 83 (142) B Hilfenhaus 5/106
S Tendulkar 80 (141) M Clarke 1/22

Australia win by an innings and 68 runs

File Photograph Copyright: BCB