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India v Australia 4th Test
Nagpur, 6-10 November 2008
606 debate | Mobile scorecards

Fourth Test, Nagpur, day five:
India 441 & 295 beat Australia 355 & 209 by 172 runs

By Oliver Brett

Amit Mishra and Mahendra Dhoni
Amit Mishra and Mahendra Dhoni celebrate the wicket of Michael Hussey

India beat Australia by 172 runs in the final Test in Nagpur to seal a 2-0 series victory and win back the much-coveted Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Harbhajan Singh (4-64) and Amit Mishra (3-27) wreaked havoc on the final afternoon as the Aussies collapsed from 111-2 at lunch to 209 all out.

Matthew Hayden went down fighting with a typically belligerent 77, and Cameron White made a valiant 26 not out.

But India's spinners held sway, making maximum use of the worn wicket.

It was the first time Australia had lost a Test series by more than one match since they were trounced by West Indies in 1988-89.

India now prepare for a seven-match one-day series against Kevin Pietersen's England starting on Friday, while Australia go home where they take on New Zealand before the arrival of a resurgent South Africa.

Australia started the day on 13-0, needing 382 to win, a score never before reached in the fourth innings of a Test in India.

They were determined to go for the big shots, knowing a draw was an almost pointless result for them.

The positive outlook was summed up by Simon Katich's early approach. He stepped across his stumps to thump one early boundary off Ishant Sharma, but skied a catch as he attempted a repeat.

Ricky Ponting was a little bit too busy as he attempted a scampered single from his sixth ball faced. His drive off Zaheer Khan was smoothly gathered by Mishra at mid-on, who threw down the stumps with the Aussie skipper a yard short of his ground.

Michael Clarke, bothered by back trouble and a stomach ailment, batted with a runner and should have lasted just two balls. However umpire Billy Bowden declined Sharma's lbw appeal and the Aussie vice-captain, whose footwork was almost non-existent, somehow gathered 22 runs before the excellent Sharma had him nicking a delivery that held its line.

Hayden was badly dropped by Mahendra Dhoni off Harbhajan on 30, and had added only five when Rahul Dravid at slip put down a tougher chance off an attempted reverse sweep against the same bowler.

He went to lunch on 46 in a total of 111-3, with only 21.3 overs bowled in the session - an indication, perhaps, that Dhoni remained wary of the possibility of an Australian victory.

India were certainly cautious after lunch, as Virender Sehwag bowled on a leg-side line at Hayden with up to four men on the boundary ropes on that side of the wicket.

Hayden did really well for a while, with a variety of sweeps and pulls hit strongly enough to render the deep-set fielders obsolete.

A tremendous clout for six off Sehwag took him to 70, but Michael Hussey fell for 19 moments later in Mishra's first over.

Harbhajan and Mishra
Harbhajan and Mishra hoovered up the lower order in the afternoon
It was not clear why Dhoni had waited so long to introduce the leg-spinner, but he crucially ended a 68-run stand in his first wicket when Hussey's edge looped invitingly to first slip.

Hayden departed in the next over, lbw to a quicker, flatter delivery from Harbhajan and India could relax.

Brad Haddin gave Tendulkar his 100th catch in Tests with a tame drive straight to mid-on off Mishra and Harbhajan continued the mopping-up process when Shane Watson edged a square cut.

With the turn and bounce becoming increasingly unpredictable, Harbhajan and Mishra were nigh-on unplayable for the lower order.

White battled away gamely, but Jason Krejza was stumped and Brett Lee offered up a bat-pad catch.

Dhoni persuaded the retiring Sourav Ganguly to take captaincy duties for the final overs, but the last wicket was a while in coming and forced the tea break to be delayed.

But Harbhajan struck gold when spinning a delivery into Mitchell Johnson's pads - and that kicked off the celebrations, despite evidence that umpire Asad Rauf's decision appeared an erroneous one.

Long after the post-match presentation, Ganguly - the captain of the side who famously won the 2001 series against Australia - was still being regally driven around the perimeter of the outfield. His first innings 85 had proved to be an important factor.

Sharma's hard work throughout the series did not go unrecognised - he was named man of the series for his 15 wickets in all. Krejza, with 12 wickets in a formidable debut, was man of the match despite ending up on the losing side.

see also
Mihir Bose blog
10 Nov 08 |  Cricket
India set Aussies daunting total
09 Nov 08 |  Cricket
Australia in India 2008
13 Oct 08 |  Cricket

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