India crush Australia by record margin

A sizzling performance by Zaheer Khan in the second Test on Tuesday helped India to a crushing 320-run win over Australia to go 1-0 up in the four-Test series.

The left-arm paceman (30) picked up three wickets, two of them on the trot, on the fifth and final day to wrap up the Australian second innings on 195 with more than two sessions to spare.

This was India’s biggest Test win by runs and their 12th victory at home against Australia out of 38 matches.

Zaheer’s effort capped an outstanding performance by India after off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and lanky fast bowler Ishant Sharma gave India the crucial breakthroughs on Monday.

Singh took the top out of the Australian batting order by removing openers Matthew Hayden (29) and Simon Katich (20), before adding the key wicket of Michael Hussey (one) for figures of 3-36.

Sharma (2-42) claimed skipper Ricky Ponting (two) for the fifth time in as many matches and also took the wicket of Shane Watson, top-scorer with 78 in Australia’s first innings score of 268.

The Indians also owed the win to a sterling show from their batsmen, who piled up 469 in their first innings before making 314-3 declared in their second.

The retiring Sourav Ganguly struck 102, Sachin Tendulkar a record-breaking 88 and stand-in skipper Mahendra Dhoni a sparkling 92 to lay the winning platform for the hosts.

The Australians struggled with the bat on a surface that Indian batsmen thrived on, the only saving grace being Watson’s knock. Their bowlers, led by an off-colour Lee, also looked clueless against the Indian run machine.

Resuming the day on a wobbly 141-5 while chasing an insurmountable target of 516, the Australians tried to delay the inevitable, but not for long.

Left-arm paceman Zaheer Khan struck in his very first over of the day, removing overnight batsman Brad Haddin (37) with a ball that crashed into the middle- and off-stumps.

Khan, man of the match in the drawn Bangalore opener for his exploits with the bat and the ball, followed it up with two wickets in two balls in his very next over.

Cameron White (one) tried to go for an expansive drive but ended up getting an outside edge that was taken by Mahendra Dhoni diving to his right behind the stumps.

Lee, in news for a reported tiff with captain Ricky Ponting, then saw his off-stump uprooted by a searing delivery that nipped in sharply.

Michael Clarke, who put on 84 runs for the sixth-wicket stand with Haddin, continued to defy the fired-up Indian attack though, reaching his ninth Test half-century in process.

Clarke (69) was the last man out when he edged one to Virender Sehwag off leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who picked up five wickets on his Test debut on Sunday.—AFP

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