A relentless performance by Australia’s bowling attack – led by firebrand Mitchell Johnson – saw the hosts wrap up the second Test at the Gabba inside four days, but not before a few nervous flutters as their Indian counterparts showed some belated fight in the latter stages.
Australia secured a four-wicket win after skittling India for 224 in their second innings, losing six wickets while chasing the modest fourth-innings target of 128.
Needing to dig in for a long day at the crease as they resumed at 1/71, India were deep strife early as Johnson claimed the key scalps of Virat Kohli (10), Ajinkya Rahane (1) and Rohit Sharma (0), before Josh Hazlewood had MS Dhoni trapped lbw second ball.
India had slumped to 5/87 after just 6.2 overs of day 4.
Debutant Hazlewood dismissed Cheteshwar Pujara for 43, caught by Lyon, who then sent Shikhar Dhawan on his way lbw after a stoic 81. Dhawan had retired hurt overnight, before returning to aid India’s futile cause – but he seemed more preoccupied with engaging in niggle with the Australians, who were more than happy to oblige.
Hazlewood returned the favour for Lyon, catching Varun Aaron off the spinner’s bowling, before Johnson finished off the tourists’ substandard effort by halting Umesh Yadav’s spirited cameo (30 off 42 balls) caught behind.
Despite the cheap loss of David Warner for 6 and the increasingly disappointing Shane Watson for an eight-ball duck – both caught Dhoni, bowled Ishant Sharma – that left Australia at 2/22, the final session appeared little more than a victory lap for the hosts.
Chris Rogers kept the wolves at bay for the time being, mirroring his first innings score with a sparkling 55 off 57 balls, including 10 boundaries. For the preservation of his place in the team, Rogers would have been better served to guide Australia through to the winning target, but flayed at a Sharma delivery and was caught at third slip by Dhawan.
Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh signalled their intentions to end the match swiftly, but Marsh was caught behind off Yadav for 17, before Yadav and Dhoni combined again to run out Smith for 28 just four balls later.
When Brad Haddin played an ill-advised hook shot off Yadav and was caught by Kohli for 1, Australia had lost 3/8 in the space of 10 balls to be 6/122, needing just six more for victory.
Mitchell Marsh and Johnson stopped the rot to see Australia through to a 2-0 series lead.
Stud of the day
Johnson was at his aggressive, accurate and unplayable best in the morning session, dismantling the Indian top order to set Australia on track to a convincing win with 4/61 from 17.3 overs.
Stud of the match
Steve Smith’s magnificent 133 in the first innings was crucial, but his calm leadership on captaincy debut was equally important. After a disastrous first day, Smith led from the front to help capture a dream result in his first Test in charge. Smith’s sensational slips grab to dismiss Rohit Sharma on day 2 is a contender for catch of the summer. At just 25, and with Michael Clarke’s prospects of returning from injury on tenterhooks, Smith has the ability and the potential to become one of Australia’s longest-serving Test skippers.
Kohli chopping on to his stumps in Johnson’s second over set the tone for another day of Australian dominance.
Australia are within touching distance of reclaiming the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with two Tests remaining. It would have been easy for Australia to capitulate after an injury-ravaged first day, but they fought back brilliantly with bat and ball to claim an emphatic victory. The MCG Boxing Day Test – which the hosts have won in 13 of the previous 15 summers – is an ominously difficult place and occasion for India to turn it around.
Australia’s win represented the 11th consecutive Test between the nations that has been won by the home side.