Mitchell Johnson sets up Australia win
Mitchell Johnson and Chris Rogers played key roles as Australia wrapped up a four-wicket victory over India within four days of the second Test in Brisbane.
The tourists had resumed on 71 for one in their second innings, but Johnson claimed four wickets and crucially sparked a middle-order collapse which saw India eventually bowled out for 224.
Shikhar Dhawan provided some resistance for Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men with a stubborn 81, despite battling a wrist injury he sustained in the practice nets before the day’s play.
But Johnson’s brilliance and India’s demise left Australia needing 128 for victory, and a half-century from opener Rogers set them on their way to a resounding win and a 2-0 series lead, despite losing six wickets along the way.
India’s troubles began even before play had started when Dhawan was unable to resume his innings having been struck on the wrist in the nets.
Things then went from bad to worse as Johnson quickly turned the contest in Australia’s favour. His first victim of the day was Virat Kohli, bowled for a single, with Ajinkya Rahane (10) and Rohit Sharma soon following, the latter edging to wicket-keeper Brad Haddin for a duck.
Dhoni had also failed to trouble the scorers when he was removed by Josh Hazlewood just three deliveries later and India looked more than precarious on 87 for five.
Cheteshwar Pujara, who had been watching the debacle unfold at the other end of the crease, and Ravichandran Ashwin (19) managed to steer the tourists past the 100-run mark but the latter then became Mitchell Starc’s only scalp with Haddin pouching another catch.
When Pujara’s resistance was also ended, by Hazlewood on 43, it seemed as though India were spent but Dhawan returned to the middle and joined forces with Umesh Yadav to finally get the runs flowing.
The pair put on an eighth-wicket stand of 60 as India marched past the 200-mark before Nathan Lyon’s straighter delivery had Dhawan trapped lbw, ending a brave display from the left-hander.
Lyon’s second wicket soon followed with the dismissal of Varun Aaron while Johnson and Haddin combined once more to end Yadav’s stay on 30 and leave the paceman with figures of four for 61.
Australia’s target of 128 - with one and a bit sessions remaining - looked simple enough, although they did it the hard way as the wickets tumbled.
Two of those fell to Ishant Sharma before tea, with David Warner (6) and Shane Watson (0) the men to depart. More worryingly, Warner’s fitness is now a major concern for the third Test after he was struck by Yadav during his short stay at the crease and suffered a thumb injury.
It was left to Rogers to get Australia’s run chase going and his swashbuckling 55 from 57 balls, including 10 boundaries, was just what the Brisbane crowd needed to settle any nerves.
Rogers’ dismissal, again by Sharma, left the hosts on 85 for three while Shaun Marsh (17), first-innings centurion Steve Smith (28) and Haddin (1) also departed in a messy spell, but Mitchell Marsh eventually hit the runs which saw them across the line.
India v Australia Test schedule
First Test Adelaide, Australia won by 48 runs
Second Test Brisbane, Australia won by four wickets
Third Test Melbourne, Friday-December 30
Fourth Test Sydney, January 6-10
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Published: December 20, 2014 04:00 AM