|Mr Popular: Michael Clarke is engulfed by team mates after getting the winning wicket |
Australia have equalled their own world record of 16 successive test match victories beating India by 122 runs in a thrilling finish in Sydney.
Part-time spinner Michael Clarke captured three wickets in five deliveries to wrap up an incredible victory with just seven balls remaining on Sunday to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
After some rapid fire runs by Australia in the morning 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.
They made no attempt at chasing down the 333 they had been set to win after Australia had declared on 401-7 but looked to have secured a draw when they started the second last over with three wickets in hand.
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 then finished off the match when Irfan Pathan nicked one to Hussey without scoring.
Clarke had previously taken 6-9 against India on his debut in 2004 and spent the last half hour pestering Ponting for another chance.
"Michael Clarke's got the golden touch," Ponting said after the match.
"He actually said to me when I gave him the ball I think I've got about just enough time to win us the game here. He's always had a fair bit of confidence in himself."
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 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 of 12 and Vangipurappu Laxman for 20 after lunch.
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 frustrated the Australian bowlers 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 error was the latest in a long line of umpiring decisions to cast a shadow over the match..
However, 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 Michael 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 but he could do nothing but watch the last three wickets fall from the non-strikers end.
His opposing captain believed the victory would go down as one of Australia's greatest ever wins.
"It's right up there as far as I'm concerned," Ponting told a news conference.
"My overall emotion and feeling at the end of the game was as good a feeling as I've ever had on a cricket field.
"To win a test like that, coming down to the last eight or 10 minutes on the fifth day is very special."
While reflecting on his side’s defeat, Kumble chose to launch a astonishing attack on Australia's cricketers and accusing them of breaching the spirit of the game.
|Stranded: Indian captain Anil Kumble (far right) is an unhappy bystander to Australia's |
When asked about Australia's tactics, Kumble echoed something similar to the immortal line used by the Australian captain Bill Woodfull during the 1932-33 Bodyline series against England.
"Only one team was playing with the spirit of the game," Kumble said.
He also said he was prevented from elaborating on his specific complaints about the Australian players but indicated he was upset at the refusal of their batsmen to walk when they were clearly out.
The Indians were on the wrong end of a number of contentious umpiring decisions throughout the course of the match but the most crucial occurred on the first day when Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds was given not out by West Indian umpire Steve Bucknor.
Symonds, who later admitted he had nicked the ball and should have been sent packing, was on 30 at the time but went on to make 162 not out and help Australia recover from a batting slump to make 463.
"We like to play hard on the field and we expect that from Australia as well," Kumble said.
"I've played my cricket very sincerely and very honestly and that's the approach my team takes on the field and I expect that from the Australians as well."
Kumble also bristled when asked about some of Australia's appeals after Rahul Dravid was controversially given out, caught behind on the last day when he had failed to make contact with the ball.
"We had decided that we will be honest and when a catch is taken the player says he's taken it, the captain nods his head and the umpire gives him out," Kumble said.
Dravid didn’t look to be following his captain’s edict when he chose to depart after handing out some umpiring advice to Bucknor on his slow walk back to the pavilion.
Kumble remarks about sporting behaviour by his team will also come under scrutiny when Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh faces a disciplinary panel for allegedly making racist comments towards Andrew Symonds.
India lodge complaint
The strained relations between the sides are likely to continue when the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) lodges a formal complaint with the ICC over what it views as "incompetent" umpiring of the Test.
"I have been informed by the BCCI that they are lodging a strong protest with the ICC, so that some of the incompetent umpires do not umpire in the rest of the series," team manager Chetan Chauhan said at the press conference.
"The way the umpiring was, the team is agitated and upset.
"A lot of decisions have gone against us. Of course, a few went against the Australians also. But it really affected us," he said.
"Had some of the decisions, I would say 50 percent of the decisions, been received in our favour, the result would have been different.
"We're not saying this because we have lost the game. It was for everybody to see."
The third Test begins in Perth on January 16.