Michael Clarke shows golden touch as Australia rout India

Michael Clarke capped a landmark match with the bat by taking the vital wicket of Sachin Tendulkar as Australia sealed an emphatic innings and 68-run win over India with a day to spare in the second Test.

Man-of-the-match Clarke, who scored an unbeaten triple century on day three, dismissed Tendulkar for 80 shortly after lunch yesterday to spark the Indian batting collapse that propelled Australia towards a 2-0 series lead.

“It’s a very nice wicket to have that’s for sure,” Clarke said. “To be able to get such a great player out is a very handy wicket.”

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Australia eventually bowled India out for 400 in their second innings shortly after tea to take an iron grip on the four-match series against the world’s No 2-ranked team.

“I think our execution was very good,” Clarke said. “I’d like to give a lot of credit to our bowlers throughout this Test match as well. I thought the way we bowled in the first innings set the test match up for us.

“To be able to take ten wickets on a really flat wicket out there, they deserve a lot of credit. They continue to perform in any conditions, which is very pleasing for us.”

Tendulkar fell tantalisingly close to being the first player to post 100 international centuries.

The “Little Master” was caught by Mike Hussey after part-time spinner Clarke (1-22) found the outside edge which deflected off wicketkeeper Brad Haddin’s shoulder to first slip.

Tendulkar had been in fine touch throughout the first session and reached his 50 off 89 balls midway through the morning. He appeared to be on target to score the milestone century that has eluded him for 21 innings since the cricket World Cup in March last year.

Tendulkar’s next chance for a century will be during the third Test at Perth starting on 13 January, when India will be desperate to end a losing run of six straight Tests away from home.

“We knew getting to the new ball was the key for us, it was about trying to contain runs from the 70th to the 80th over,” Clarke said. “If we could manage to get a wicket that was a bonus, and fortunately I managed to spin one, which was a miracle for me.”

Ben Hilfenhaus took his second five-wicket haul from two matches and returned his best figures of 5-106, while Peter Siddle took 2-88.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni acknowledged his team was off the pace right from day one, when it was dismissed for 191 after winning the toss and deciding to bat.

“We didn’t put enough runs on the board. To win Test matches, of course taking 20 wickets is very important, but also we need to give that cushion, having those extra runs on the board so that the bowlers can plan the opposition out.”

VVS Laxman (66) was out shortly after Tendulkar to a fine delivery by Hilfenhaus which moved slightly off the seam to flick the off stump. Hilfenhaus then captured Dhoni for two when he chipped the ball back to the bowler from a full length ball.

James Pattinson (1-106) trapped Virat Kohli lbw for nine the next over but the 21-year-old paceman has injured his left foot and is unavailable for the rest of the series.

Zaheer Khan and Ravi Ashwin shared a 56-run partnership in an entertaining cameo that included eight fours and a six, until Siddle had Khan caught by Marsh at point for 35 off just 26 balls. Hilfenhaus finished it off when Lyon caught Ashwin’s mistimed hit at mid-wicket.

The collapse came after India had made a bright start to the day, resuming for 114-2 and taking 45 runs from the first six overs in its chase of Australia’s massive first-innings total of 659-4, which included Clarke’s unbeaten 329 – the fourth highest Test score by an Australian – and Hussey’s 150 not out.

Siddle struck with just the second ball of his morning spell to remove Gautam Gambhir for 83. Laxman was in his best form of the series and put on a 103-run stand with Tendulkar before Clarke intervened.

After the acrimonious Test here in 2008 when India spinner Harbajhan Singh was cited after a heated exchange with Australia allrounder Andrew Symonds, Clarke said the relationship between the team’s for this test has never been stronger. “I think it’s very good, said Clarke. “It will always be very competitive because it’s India and Australia, there’s always that rivalry.

“Both teams really want to win. I think it’s great for the game that we are competitive and we fight hard to win the Test matches, but I can guarantee you off the field the relationship is as strong as I have ever experienced in my time.”

The series now moves to the WACA in Perth for the third Test and Clarke said his team’s aim was to wrap up the series by going ahead 3-0. “We want to win the series, simple as that. We want to win every test match we play,” he said. “We haven’t won the series yet and there’s a lot of work that goes into that, and that starts tomorrow.”