India Thrashes Australia in Mohali Test

October 21, 2008

Zaheer Khan wreaked havoc as India punctured Australia’s aura of invincibility by inflicting a crushing 320-run defeat on the visitors with more than two sessions to spare in the second cricket Test in Mohali on Tuesday.

With Zaheer breathing fire, India took just one-and-half hours and 18.4 overs to complete the formality and Australia, thoroughly bruised and battered, were subjected to one of their worst defeats in recent past as India went 1-0 up in the four-match series.

Australia needed well nigh a miracle to chase down the monumental 516-run target for an improbable win and with the top order blown away cheaply, their pursuit looked doomed right at the outset.

It was too much to expect the lower middle order batsmen and tail-enders to do what their front-line willow-wielders could not and Australia eventually folded for 195.

Zaheer’s triple strikes in the first hour maimed Australia and since then, their collapse was just a matter of time and formality, which was completed in due course.

This was India’s biggest win against the Aussies, eclipsing the 222-run victory that came in Melbourne in 1977. Michael Clarke (69) was the only face of Australian resistance in the face of some inspiring Indian bowling but his knock didn’t go beyond boosting his personal tally.

Clarke’s 152-ball knock included nine hits to the fence. With five wickets separating India from a win at the end of the fourth day, the dice was indeed loaded too heavily against Australia and whatever hopes they had of saving the Test went up in smoke when Zaheer crashed through Brad Haddin’s (37) defence in the first over of the day.

Zaheer has been tormenting Australia since they landed in India and the persecution was far from over as the left-arm seamer came to singe them with a superlative show of fast bowling in his second over.

Cameron White (1) had barely survived the first ball he faced from Zaheer which angled across to beat his tentative blade but his luck ran out soon and the Australian edged the next delivery for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to pouch a smart catch diving to his right.

Brett Lee was next in the line of fire and he could only grope in thin air as Zaheer landed one just short of length and pegged back his off-stump, putting himself on a hat-trick.

Four fielders were soon manning the slip cordon and a few more hung around the blade but Mitchell Johnson’s (26) straight bat denied Zaheer his hat-trick even if the left-arm seamer’s spell was no less spectacular.

Johnson showed the grit that some of his illustrious batting colleagues lacked and the left-hander decided to lend a helping hand to Clarke who was waging a grim battle at the other end.

They put together a 50-run stand for the ninth wicket to thwart the Indians for a while but that was just an effort to delay the inevitable till Amit Mishra struck.

Johnson could not read Mishra’s flighted delivery and the leading edge resulted into a simple caught-and-bowled dismissal giving the bowler his sixth wicket of the match.

Running out of partners and patience wearing thin, Clarke pulled Amit Mishra in the leggie’s next over and Virender Sehwag took a smart catch at mid-off to drop curtains on Australia’s second innings.

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