There was no hiding the emotions inside the dressing rooms at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. The mood was all visible through the glass walls. Two down and needing 195 to make India bat again, the visitors' camp wore a grim look at the start of the fourth day. Within an hour, the
Australian players looked as if they were at a funeral. The sinking feeling was unmistakable.
When they embarked on their tour of the subcontinent, Michael Clarke's men were aware it would be a tough challenge, but even their harshest critic wouldn't have expected the kind of capitulation that took place in the second innings.
Their handful of supporters at the ground was forced to sit through the torture of their team collapsing to 131 all out. In a dramatic finish to the second Test, Australia lost their last eight wickets for 57 runs in 35 overs as spinners R Ashwin (5-63) and Ravindra Jadeja (3-33) combined to wreak havoc. The innings and 135-run win raises India's hopes of a whitewash. Vanquished skipper Michael Clarke called the performance 'simply unacceptable'.
While the contrasting show of India and Australia in their respective home conditions raises genuine doubts about the standard of world cricket at the moment, MS Dhoni will be happy to gain revenge for the similar treatment meted out Down Under in the last series.
The victory in Hyderabad was Dhoni's 22nd, making him the the most successful India Test captain.
Great Australia sides were renowned for their never-say-die spirit. Clarke's men were exposed in terms of skills; and neither could they conjure up the famed fighting spirit. Senior pro Shane Watson was the biggest culprit. For the second time he fell to a soft dismissal. In the first innings, he was leg before attempting a pull shot and this time he was caught down the leg side off an innocuous Ishant Sharma delivery.
It triggered the collapse. On a spinner's paradise that the Hyderabad curator had dished out, some batsmen were expected to get unplayable deliveries. To Australia's luck, the best ball of the match fell in Clarke's half. Ravindra Jadeja, who till then hadn't done anything spectacular, produced a peach of a delivery that spun in front of the blade of Australia's best batsman and hit his off-stump.
The left-arm spinner's dream ball ended the 33-run fourth wicket partnership between Clarke and Ed Cowan and acted like the knock-out punch - the last seven wickets falling for 23 runs. Moises Henriques too got a lesson in the vagaries of this game. His debut Test at Chennai was memorable with two half-centuries, but his second outing proved equally forgettable. Out for five in the first essay, he was run-out for duck in the second.
The most satisfying aspect for Dhoni would be that the lessons learnt against England were put in practice. This time, having gained the early momentum, he ensured
India kept the foot on the gas to avoid being ambushed.
After the battering, Clarke's team looked physically and mentally drained. They have nine days to regroup before the battle resumes in Mohali on March 14. The captain needs to come up with a miracle potion, for this team at the moment looks dead and buried.
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