After hitting a triple century and then declaring the innings with a world record in the offing, Michael Clarke had done all he could to help his country take an unassailable 2-0 lead over India. Or had he?With India cruising along at 271 for three — Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman playing some glorious strokes — the match looked increasingly like going to the final day. Then, Clarke turned the game on its head again, this time with the ball. A well-flighted delivery from the left-armer drew Tendulkar forward, inducing an outside edge that was gobbled up by Mike Hussey at first slip after the ball ricocheted off wicketkeeper Brad Haddin's gloves. Tendulkar's dismissal for 80 triggered a mini-collapse, which saw India lose four wickets for 15 runs and effectively end any hopes of stretching the match to the final day.
In the end, some lusty lower-order hitting from R Ashwin and Zaheer Khan took India past the 300 mark for just the second time in their last 18 away innings. A total of 400 which they finally surged to — their highest in an away match in the last year — however will come as scant consolation after India capitulated to defeat by an inning and 68 runs.
Building on the breakthrough provided by his skipper, Ben Hilfenhaus added another five-wicket haul, after his maiden fifer in the Boxing Day Test, including the crucial wickets of Laxman and skipper MS Dhoni soon after Tendulkar's dismissal.
The first was a ball that was straight out of the coaching manual --- pitching on off, and clipping the top of the off stump to end Laxman's breezy innings on 66. Dhoni was out in slightly different circumstances. Initially, it looked like a bump ball, but after the on-field umpires referred it to the third umpire, the evidence was to the contrary and Dhoni had to walk back to the pavilion.
In the morning, Gambhir and Tendulkar, who'd endured a harrowing spell of fast bowling towards the end of the third day's play, looked more confident and assertive.
Gambhir looked poised to break his own Test century drought, before he mistimed a Peter Siddle delivery while trying to flick it through the on side. He only succeeded in getting a leading edge, which was gobbled at point by David Warner to end his feisty innings at 85.
Tendulkar and Laxman then proceeded to play some glorious strokes and looked set to possibly recreate their magical stand at the same venue in 2003-04, before Clarke put an end to any hopes of that happening. And with it, any hopes of an India fight-back.
Guess, who was named man of the match? You don't seriously want an answer to that one!