Australia beat India in Sydney thriller

Australia beat India by 122 runs in an amazing finish to the second test on Sunday to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and equal their own world record of 16 successive victories.

Part-time spinner Michael Clarke captured three wickets in five deliveries to wrap up an incredible victory with just seven balls remaining after India looked to have done enough to salvage a draw.

”Michael Clarke’s got the golden touch, hasn’t he?,” said Australia’s jubilant captain, Ricky Ponting.

”That’s an unbelievable win, almost as good as any I’ve been in.”

The tourists were faced with the daunting challenge of batting through 72 overs to salvage a draw on a turning Sydney Cricket Ground pitch and keep the series alive but came up agonisingly short.

They made no attempt at chasing down the 333 they had been set to win after Australia had declared on 401-7 but held out realistic hopes of hanging on for draw when they started the second last over with three wickets in hand.

Astonishing over

But Clarke, who had managed just one run with the bat in the match, produced an astonishing over to seal Australia’s win.

He had Harbhajan Singh caught by Mike Hussey at slip for seven, then trapped RP Singh lbw for a golden duck and then finished off the match when Irfan Pathan nicked one to Hussey without scoring.

”I was fortunate to pick up the last three,” Clarke said. ”But it was really because of the work of the others today [Sunday].”

All-rounder Andrew Symonds also picked up three wickets and followed up his unbeaten hundred from the first innings with a brisk 61 to win the match-of-the-match award.

He and Hussey, who made 145 not out in Australia’s second innings, piled on the runs in the extended opening session to allow Ponting to declare at 401-7 and push for an unlikely victory.

India’s hopes of saving the match suffered an early setback when they lost out-of-form opener Wasim Jaffer for a duck in the first over then the prized scalps of Sachin Tendulkar for 12 and Vangipurappu Laxman for 20 after lunch.

Laxman, who made 109 in India’s first innings of 532, departed for 20 when he was trapped lbw by Stuart Clark and then Tendulkar, who made 154 not out in his first knock, fell for 12 when he dragged a short ball from Clark on to his leg stump.

Decisive moment

Rahul Dravid and Sauruv Ganguly steadied the innings but the decisive moment came early in the final session when Dravid was wrongly given out for 38 by West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor.

Dravid had successfully held the Australian bowlers at bay for nearly two-and-a-half hours when he was given out caught by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist off the bowling of Symonds, even though television replays clearly showed he had not made contact.

The incident was just the latest in a series of umpiring errors that have dogged the match.

There was no doubt about the next dismissal, when Yuvraj Singh departed for a duck in the same over, also caught behind, but Ganguly stood his ground on 51 when he edged a low catch to Clarke at second slip, believing the ball had not carried.

Wicketkeeper Mahendra Dhoni and Indian skipper Anil Kumble occupied the crease for more than an hour before Dhoni made the mistake of padding up to Symonds and was given out for 35.

Kumble, who took eight wickets or the match, batted for more than two hours to make an unbeaten 45 and seemed to have saved his team when he was forced to watch the last three wickets fall from the non-striker’s end.

Hussey, who had resumed on 87, had earlier completed his eighth Test century to lift his career average to 84,80 from 20 Tests while Gilchrist and Brad Hogg sacrificed their wickets cheaply in pursuit of quick runs.

The Indians lost last week’s first Test in Melbourne by 337 runs and cannot reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy as Australia are the current holders.

Jaffer’s place in the team for the next Test in Perth is sure to come under review after he was caught at third slip by Clarke off the bowling of Brett Lee. — Reuters

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