India set a mammoth target for victory with two days to survive.
|One up, all up: Brett Lee, Mike Hussey, Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds celebrate
Mitchell Johnson claimed three late wickets as Australia’s bowling attack dismantled India’s batting lineup to win the first test by 337 runs and with more than a day to spare.
Strike bowler Brett Lee (2-43) and left arm spinner Brad Hogg (2-51) had two wickets apiece and Johnson returned 3-21 as India collapsed to be all out for 161 chasing 499 to win, giving Australia its 15th consecutive test win.
India’s last five wickets fell within 17 runs, including three in four balls without the addition of a run.
Johnson claimed his first wicket of the match when he had Mahendra Dhoni caught behind by Adam Gilchrist for 11 leaving India’s fate in the hands of captain Anil Kumble, who was dismissed in similar fashion by the Australian pair after adding just 8 runs from 20 balls.
Harbhajan Singh was run out for a duck without facing a ball on the first delivery of the next over, Ganguly left two balls later trapped lbw by Brad Hogg and Johnson bowled Singh three overs later to end the match.
Australia declared at 351-7 late on the third day and India, dismissed for 196 runs in reply to Australia’s first innings of 343, needed to make history to win the match.
The highest successful run-chase at the MCG was England’s 332 against Australia in the 1928-29 Ashes series. Only three teams have ever completed a winning run-chase in excess of 400 runs in the fourth innings of a test.
Ganguly provided India its only glimmer of hope after Lee removed opener Wasim Jaffer and a dangerous-looking Sachin Tendulkar before tea, but the former India captain succumbed to the pressure after scoring a dogged 40 runs off 78 balls with five boundaries.
Tendulkar attempted to apply some pressure to the Australian bowlers after lunch, but made just 15 runs with one boundary in his 21-ball knock before an outside edge off a Lee ball carried to Gilchrist.
V.V.S. Laxman ground out 42 runs with six boundaries off 112 and joined Ganguly in an innings-steadying 41-run fourth-wicket partnership before skying a Stuart Clarke (1-20) ball to the waiting hands of Michael Clarke at cover.
Hogg deceived Yuvraj Singh (5) with a flipper three overs later to reduce India to 125-5.
In the morning session, Symonds (1-25) trapped slow scoring opener Rahul Dravid lbw in the last over before lunch to leave India at 56 for two, Dravid scored 16 from 114 deliveries as the tourists added only 50 runs in the session.
He and Jaffer combined to add 20 runs to the overnight score before Lee slowed the tempo in the eighth over of the day.
Gilchrist gloved a Jaffer nick off Lee’s delivery to become Australia’s most prolific wicketkeeper, surpassing Ian Healy’s 395 test dismissals.
The second test begins in Sydney from January 2, the third test starts January 16 in Perth followed by the final match in Adelaide from January 24.