India crush Australian record hopes

72 run victory at the WACA for India ends Australian record attempt.

    Anil Kumble: Jumping for joy with the wicket of
    Andrew Symonds [AFP]
    India became the first subcontinent team to win a test in Perth and ended Australia's winning streak with a 72-run win in the third test.

    Following the bitter second-test racial controversies, India responded best to post a victory that gave it hope of squaring the four-test series when the final match is played in Adelaide from January 24.

    India is making a habit of upsetting Australia's winning streaks.

    Australia had been aiming for a 17th consecutive test victory but, as it did when Australia last won 16 straight in 2001, India brought that run to an end.

    India also appears the only team capable of testing Australia on home soil.

    This home loss was the first Australia had suffered in 26 tests since India won in Adelaide in late 2003.

    Faced with a target of 413, a fourth-innings target which had only been successfully chased once in test history, Australia began the day on 65-2 and was bowled out for 340, as India took wickets at a steady clip to prevent the home side gaining momentum.

    India looked on course for a comfortable win when it reduced Australia to 253-8, but tailender Mitchell Johnson (50 not out) and Stuart Clark (32) used the long handle in a 73-run ninth-wicket stand that briefly threatened an extraordinary comeback.

    India claimed the last two wickets late on the fourth day.

    India became the first team from the subcontinent to win at the WACA Ground, where the bouncy and pacey pitch usually negates teams whose strength lies in spin bowling.

    'One of the best'

    Of touring sides, only West Indies (five times) and England (once) have previously won tests at the WACA in the 35 tests played here.

    "When you look at the victories I've been involved in both home and away, this will rate as one of the best, if not the best,'' India captain Anil Kumble said.

    "We had our moments in the first two tests, but we grabbed it here and nailed it.

    "It was a great team effort, and the way we regrouped says a lot about the character this team has. It was a very special win.

    "We know Australia will bounce back and come back at us hard (in the last test in Adelaide) and we look forward to that challenge.''

    Australia skipper Ricky Ponting blamed the defeat on poor batting, but promised greater effort in the coming days to protect a series victory.

    "We didn't lack in intensity but the skill factor made the difference between the two sides,'' Ponting said.

    "You will see that we will train harder than India in the next few days, and it is up to us to show what this team is made of.

    "We didn't produce the brand of cricket we are renowned for, and let ourselves down.

    "It was tough four days, and the bowlers did an outstanding job by dismissing India for manageable totals ,but when it mattered we didn't produced the runs.''

    Top order struggles

    From the time Ishant Sharma had Ponting caught in slips in the morning, Australia struggled to challenge the target, with no one able to make the big century the task required.

    Mike Hussey (45) and Andrew Symonds (12) were then trapped lbw soon after lunch.

    Virender Sehwag (2-24) was the unlikely star of the afternoon session, using his part-time offspin to dismiss Adam Gilchrist (15) and Brett Lee (0) in successive overs.

    Gilchrist was bowled around his legs as he attempted to sweep.

    Australia was then reliant upon last recognized batsman Michael Clarke to guide the tail-enders, and he hit a fluent 81. When he went, stumped off Kumble's legspin, Australia's chances were effectively at an end.

    Johnson and Clark indulged in some lusty late-order hitting as the hosts got the runs required into double figures, with the crowd willing them towards what proved impossible.

    Leftarm swing bowler Irfan Pathan (3-54), who had accounted for both Australian openers, finally claimed Clark who edged a delivery to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

    R.P.Singh (2-95) bowled No.11 Shaun Tait soon after to end the match, leaving Johnson unbeaten after a maiden test half-century that included two sixes and five fours.

    Australia paid the price for its use of four pacemen, being fined for slow over-rate in the match by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

    Australia's players were stripped of ten per cent of their match fee, and Ponting 20 per cent.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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