Australia’s pace attack swept India aside to secure a 122-run victory in the first Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Fine performances by Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle saw the tourists fall some way short of the 292 they had been set to win.
The quick trio bowled with tremendous accuracy throughout a devastating 47.5-over innings that spanned all three sessions on the fourth day, with Pattinson (4-53) narrowly shading the honours,
But, despite the 21-year-old rising star taking the most wickets, it was a collective effort that saw the Baggy Greens across the finish line, with the three-pronged attack showing enough to suggest they can spearhead a bid to climb back up towards the top of the Test rankings.
India had occupied that position until their whitewash in England earlier this summer and MS Dhoni’s side again showed worrying signs overseas.
The tourists were always likely to be up against it chasing what would have been the fourth-highest MCG winning total, but their mindset could have been so different had they not allowed Pattinson and Hilfenhaus to take them on with the bat in the morning.
When Mike Hussey, who should have been given out when he edged Umesh Yadav behind, was snared by Zaheer Khan for 88, the margin was 249 but, 10 overs of improvised batting from the bowlers later, it was 43 runs greater.
Hilfenhaus finally fell to Ishant Sharma for 14 and then delivered with the ball in a nine-over spell before lunch, getting one to climb on Virender Sehwag who could only find Hussey in the gully. India returned after lunch on 24 for one, but, by the time they were back in the pavilion for tea, the score was 117 for six as Australia dominated the middle session.
Gautam Ghambir was tied in knots by Siddle – surviving twice in one over – before diverting an almost unplayable delivery from the same bowler into the hands of Ricky Ponting at second slip.
That brought Sachin Tendulkar to the crease – the master batsman still chasing an elusive 100th international ton – and he had another elder statesman, Rahul Dravid, for company, but that did not last long as “The Wall” misread one from Pattinson and lost his middle stump for 10.
The same bowler then got rid of VVS Laxman, who failed to spot former Scottish Saltire Ed Cowan lurking at square leg when he flicked one off his legs and, when Hilfenhaus (2-39) trapped Virat Kohli in front for a golden duck, India were sinking fast at 69 for five. That quickly became 81 for six as Siddle, with the first ball of his second spell, got Tendulkar to give Hussey an easy catch in the gully.
Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin had a swing before tea, but Ashwin fell just after it for 30, gloving a climber from Siddle (3-42) to Cowan, who had come in to short square leg.
Zaheer Khan clubbed Pattinson for six but paid with the very next ball, walking across his stumps to try to hit the 21-year-old out of the ground but only serving to fudge one to the ever-alert Cowan. Dhoni (23) then lost his off stump to Pattinson as India fell apart at nine for 142 and, although Yadav had a late slog, he perished on 21 when he took on spinner Nathan Lyon and was caught out by a sprinting Warner on the boundary.
Despite the win, Australian skipper Michael Clarke called for improvement in the second Test in Sydney. He said: “There’s periods throughout that game where we didn’t perform as well as we’d like, so we need to look to improve that.
“When you’re on top you need to make the most of that. I think we did that really well today with the ball, and we fought really hard with the bat yesterday and again this morning
Dhoni said: “We need to apply ourselves a lot more. And, if we do that, I have no doubt that we would come back strongly.
“It’s a long series which gives you the chance to come back.”
Australia: 333 (Cowan 68, Ponting 62; Khan 4-77, Yadav 3-106) & 240 (M Hussey 89, Ponting 60; Yadav 4-70, Khan 3-53). India 282 (Tendulkar 73, Dravid 68, Sehwag 67; Hilfenhaus 5-75, Siddle 3-63, Pattinson 2-55) & 169 (Tendulkar 32, Ashwin 30; Pattinson 4-53, Siddle 3-42).