As expected, India was able to close the match by tea-time and earn an emphatic 172 run victory. The resistance did come initially through Hayden and Katich, and then with a couple of other partnerships that also involved Hayden. But it was too little, too late. Once Katich fell to a wild shot, and Mishra pulled out a stunning diving throw to runout Ponting, Australia was always on the backfoot. Ishant bowled a beauty that skimmed the edge of Clarke’s bat for Dhoni to take a simple catch.
Post lunch, the spinners Harbhajan and Mishra did the finishing job. Hayden’s wicket was the most crucial; the lone resistance falling lbw to his nemesis (and good friend –J ) Harbhajan. Harbhajan also delivered the final blow, trapping Johnson lbw and the game was over and the Indian celebrations began in earnest. It was a nice gesture on Dhoni’s part to let Sourav Ganguly play the role of an acting captain during the last 30 min or so.
In the end, the decision post tea on day 4 (read my earlier post on day 4) by Ponting probably cost him not only the match, but the series as well. During the post-match presentations, Shastri briefly asked him about that, and there was no real convincing answer. Well, Ponting better be ready with something; according to one of the commentators, Ponting has already received a call to meet the CEO of Cricket Australia when he returns back. He would have some explaining to do for sure!
Dhoni came out of this match and this series as probably India’s most exciting, unconventional and intelligent risk taking captain of all times. He had already proven himself in the shorter versions of the games; but in this series he came out with flying colors in the ‘original’ test. With him at the helm, and a great breed of young talent, India look set to dominate the game in the years to come.
On the other hand, this series showed that the end is near as far the great Australian winning machine is concerned. It has been a dream run, but it never lasts forever! Even the invincible West Indians of the 1970s/1980s eventually faded away. For team Australia, the void left by McGrath, Warne and Gilchrist will be too big to fill. These were once in a generation players, and they don’t come everyday. The team will have to do some soul-searching and plan for life beyond these legends. Absence of Symonds didn’t help either.
India, now on a winning high, take on England led by their new aggressive captain, Pieterson. Should be a good contest, but India should be fairly strong favorites to win the one-day and tests series at home. Australia taken on a weak Kiwi side at home, and hope to win and quickly regain their confidence after this 2-0 loss.