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Australia takes 2-0 lead after Indian collapse

Team chases 128 with four wickets in hand after Johnson runs through the Indian batting line-up

Australia takes 2-0 lead after Indian collapse - Cricket News
Chris Rogers celebrates after reaching his half-century.
Test matches are designed to last five days, but they can be lost in as few as five overs. After being ultra competitive for eight playing days, India suffered a depressingly familiar batting collapse on Saturday (December 20), the fourth day of the second Test, setting Australia a tricky but small target of 128. India’s bowlers then put in a serious effort to derail Australia, but the home side would not be denied, a jittery four-wicket win giving it a 2-0 lead in this four-match series.
It was Mitchell Johnson, whom India’s fielders had gone out of their way to antagonise when he batted on the third afternoon, who triggered a clutch of wickets. When the day began, with India on 71 for 1, there was every reason to be guardedly optimistic.
The resumption was anything but auspicious, though, with Shikhar Dhawan unable to resume his innings after being struck on the wrist while batting on a practice pitch as part of his warm-ups. The Indian team management, who has been requesting better surfaces since the team arrived in Brisbane, was less than pleased, and it was down to Virat Kohli to face the music out in the middle.
Johnson, with his tail up, induced a false stroke from Kohli, an angled bat sending the ball crashing onto the stumps via the inside edge. Ajinkya Rahane got a lifter that climbed from a length and could not bail out of the shot, ending up popping a simple catch to the fielder at point. Rohit Sharma hung his bat out to feather a nick to the keeper for a duck and Johnson had 3 for 10 in a spell that ripped the heart out of the Indian batting.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni shuffled across his stumps and missed a fullish delivery from Josh Hazlewood that was angled in and India was in all sorts of trouble at 87 for 5.
R Ashwin, who had added invaluable runs with his captain in the first innings, got going, temporarily stemming the rot, but a Mitchell Starc delivery that was angled into him zipped through, and the umpire upheld the appeal for a catch off the inside edge.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who had kept one end up to get to 43 was the next to go, Hazlewood getting a bit of extra bounce and hitting the bat high up. The catch was taken at point and Dhawan was India’s last realistic hope of putting enough runs on the board to have a crack at Australia.
Resuming on 26, Dhawan came out swinging, setting aside the injury to take the attack to Australia’s bowlers. When there was any width on offer, Dhawan was quick to pounce, transferring weight from back foot to front to crash the ball in front of square. If the bowlers tried to tuck him up, bowling into the ribs, Dhawan pulled hard, not taking any half measures. But, Dhawan had not only to do the scoring, but protect the tail as well, and this wasn’t something he could do indefinitely. On 81, almost twice as many runs as anyone else made in the innings, Dhawan attempted a delicate lap sweep off Nathan Lyon, and missed the ball to be trapped in front.
India slumped to 224 all out, having lost nine wickets for just 143. This latest collapse came on the back of similar troubles in previous innings in the series. In Adelaide, India lost six wickets for 77 in the first innings and eight wickets for 73 in the second. In the first innings at the Gabba, where India managed 408, six wickets had fallen for the addition of only 87.
Small targets can be a tricky proposition, and Ishant Sharma did his best to make life miserable for Australia’s batsmen. David Warner was struck on the thumb early on and looked in obvious discomfort before he nicked to the wicketkeeper. Shane Watson’s poor run with the bat continued as he attempted a pull shot to a well-directed bouncer and only managed a top edge. At 22 for 2, the Australian dressing-room was a nervous place, with 106 runs still needed.

Chris Rogers, who has felt the heat a touch because the runs simply haven’t been coming, calmed the nerves with some beautiful shots through the off side. India’s bowlers had to be aggressive in their pursuit of wickets, but this meant that a few overpitched balls were on offer, and Rogers cashed in, cover-driving fluently. When the bowlers overcompensated and banged the ball in, Rogers waited on the back foot, chopping the ball down to the point fence.
India should have had a third breakthrough, the crucial one of Steven Smith, when he flashed hard at Aaron, but Kohli, not quite balanced at third slip, put the chance down.
Rogers then opened up, racing to a run-a-ball half century, his every stroke making it harder for the Indians to keep the faith. But Ishant persevered, and found a way through, a slashed cut from Rogers (55) snapped up by Dhawan.
Shaun Marsh then joined his captain in picking off boundaries, taking full toll of anything loose. With only 14 needed, Shaun gloved a leg-side delivery to the keeper, and Smith (28) ran himself out attempting a frantic second, while Brad Haddin fell once more to the short ball.
Johnson, who had done the damage earlier, took the crease with six still needed, but was not called on to do any more as Mitchell Marsh thumped a cover-drive to seal the deal.

Please click here to see the full scorecard and follow live ball-by-ball coverage ofAustralia v India from Brisbane.

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