Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide, 4th day January 27, 2012

Australia four wickets from a 4-0 whitewash


India 272 and 6 for 166 (Sehwag 62, Lyon 3-57) need another 334 runs to beat Australia 7 for 604 dec and 5 for 167 dec (Ponting 60*)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Whitewash, clean sweep, shutout. Whatever you like to call it, Australia were on track for a 4-0 series victory over India by stumps on the fourth day in Adelaide. Four wickets stood between Michael Clarke's men and the completion of a remarkable feat. India finished the day needing a further 334 for victory, but a comeback from Kapil Dev is more likely than one from India in this match.

At stumps India were 6 for 166, having been set a target of 500. To put that in perspective, the highest successful chase in all of Test history was 418 by West Indies in Antigua nine years ago. The best in Adelaide was the 315 that Joe Darling's Australia chased down against England 110 years ago. In the past century, the highest Test chase in Adelaide was less than half of what India required in this innings.

Ishant Sharma was at the crease on 2 and Wriddhiman Saha was yet to score when India walked off, any minuscule hope they had having disappeared along with VVS Laxman and Virat Kohli in the dying stages. Laxman and Kohli had steadied, relatively speaking, with a 52-run partnership when Laxman fell victim to his own wristy tendencies.

Clarke set a leg slip, a short leg and a short catching midwicket for Laxman facing the offspin of Nathan Lyon, and on 35 the batsman complied with a flick straight into the hands of Shaun Marsh at short midwicket. The ball had rocketed off the bat but Marsh's reflexes were good enough, and Laxman was left to wonder if it would be his final act in Test cricket.

But even more remarkable was Kohli's departure. India had sent in Ishant as a nightwatchman, traditionally a position that requires a lower-order batsman to maintain the strike and protect the specialist. Instead, Kohli wanted so desperately to face the last over of the day that he pushed the final ball of the penultimate over wide of mid-on and raced off for a risky single.

The ball was collected by Ben Hilfenhaus, whose momentum was carrying him away from the stumps, but his fast throw hit the stumps and Kohli was run-out for 22. It was a wonderful piece of work from Hilfenhaus, hardly the nimblest of Australia's fielders, and as Kohli walked off he thumped his fist on his own helmet in frustration at his ill-judged run.

Already Australia had seen the backs of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. It was the wicket of Tendulkar that really got the hosts going, as it left India at 4 for 110 and ensured that despite Tendulkar's greatness, he had had no serious impact on the series, finishing with 287 runs at an average of 35.87.

Tendulkar was caught for 13 at short leg when he inside edged onto his leg off Lyon and the ball bobbed up to Ed Cowan. Tendulkar walked off to a standing ovation, but at least Australian fans will see him bat again, during the one-day series. Another all-time great, Dravid, almost certainly walked off an Australian ground for the last time a short while earlier.

On 25, Dravid's thick edge off the bowling of Ryan Harris was snapped up by Michael Hussey at gully. Australia were making good progress after Sehwag gave Indian fans a brief glimmer of hope with a brisk half-century. He was so aggressive to anything wide of off stump that 54 of his 62 runs came through the off side, including all 12 of his boundaries, as he gave little regard to the risk of being caught.

Eventually his downfall came when he miscued an attempted slog off a Nathan Lyon full toss and was caught at cover. Already India had lost Gambhir, who will finish the series with a disappointing average of 22.83 after he pushed at a Harris delivery and was caught behind for 3.

India had come to the crease after Clarke allowed his own batsmen to play for three overs after lunch in order to set the target of 500, before he declared with Australia on 5 for 167. Ricky Ponting finished unbeaten on 60 and Brad Haddin was on 11.

As Homer Simpson once pointed out after observing that it was time to play the waiting game, "the waiting game sucks. Let's play Hungry Hungry Hippos!" Such was the case in the first session as Australia accumulated more and more runs without any sense of urgency, despite already having ample to defend, with both teams waiting patiently for Clarke's declaration.

Australia added 104 in the first session for the loss of two wickets. Clarke had just started to lift his tempo against the spin of R Ashwin when he feathered a catch behind for 37 off Umesh Yadav, and Hussey was adjudged lbw to Ishant Sharma for 15.

As the innings moved on, India's batsmen could see that some runs remained in the pitch but the surface was only going to become more difficult, perhaps another reason why Clarke delayed his declaration. Whatever the case, India knew they would have to completely rewrite history in order to escape with a victory.

By stumps, any slim hopes they had were gone.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nitin on January 28, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    @5Wombats: Never did I say , it doesn't count because it is not India? I only said, aussies should not crow this much, as they are winning only in their backyard. Of course we are sad and embarrassed. But the fact still remains the same, we win at home, and you win at home. That's it. The day england and australia comes and beat us at home(now don't quote me stats from dinosaur age), I will come and truly accept that you people are the champs. Hats off! But anyways Aussies were better the team this series and I accept. Congrats!

  • rob on January 28, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    @ Nilesh Trivedi : I suppose dropping out of Test cricket altogether could be fairly convenient. That way you could claim to be the best in the game but never actually have to prove it. .. It would be a shame to see India drop out, but hardly life threatening. What is more disturbing is that you seem to want to bully your neighbours and a few others in joining you. .... THATS the attitude that many of the rest of us are starting to get very, very sick of. .... forget Flat Track Bullies (its a myth anyway), the Boardroom Bully attitude is the most repulsive thing about Indian cricket right at the moment.

  • karthik on January 28, 2012, 1:51 GMT

    @Isaac.. U echoed my thoughts bro.. Well said.. Its okay to criticize, bt we Indian fans r really going overboard.. I hv never seen such harsh words frm English/Aus fans.. Shame to b a Indian fan.. No.. Not coz my team isn't winning.. Its all coz of the biased/non-sporty fans around here.. How come some1 who havent faced a single ball in International arena hav guts to write very LOW abt game's greats.. Bad..

  • Dummy4 on January 28, 2012, 1:10 GMT

    India paid dearly for having extended the senior career far too much !!, though the writing was on the wall. No planning to ease them out and bring fresh talents step by step.It is very sad to see the top players leaving at a very low spirit. At least now BCCI should act intelligently

  • Arvind on January 28, 2012, 0:54 GMT

    Along with Dravid and Laxman, Dhoni needs to retire from Test cricket as well. I am not sure why no one has uttered a word against Duncan Fletcher? He has overseen the swiftest fall from grace of any national sports team. His continuation is untenable and frankly, ludicrous. The young guns are likely to misfire more often which will lead to widespread disillusionment and declining television revenues. It hurts me to predict that Test cricket will die a slow death if the Indian audience is disinterested. In modern times, no sport can afford to be played over 5 days and test cricket's days are numbered. So, please order DVD sets of vintage test classics to pass it down generations. Amen!

  • Sam on January 28, 2012, 0:06 GMT

    If a team can't make at least 300 runs an innings in the last 3 matches, that team should be disqualified from playing further tests.

  • Martin on January 27, 2012, 23:41 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster. Well, it wasn't as if you weren't warned. We told you India would not win a single Test match in Australia and we told you india bowlers would not be effective anywhere (they might be in India, but we'll see). BTW we absolutely LOVED this comment; "Congratulations to the Aussies for beating up a dead snake". That actually made us laugh! We also noticed your comment; "India have been ABYSMAL". We think we said that back in August.... didn't we? Anyway, moving on. With humility/reality seemingly having taken its firm grip, we offer you some Shakespeare; "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him". This is offered as the mood of the moment. Truce? Please publish.

  • monzu on January 27, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    @Al_Bundy1 he is a fiction made by Indian media, under pressure not single performance,only individual glory.

  • Dummy4 on January 27, 2012, 23:10 GMT

    I see thunderstorms are forecast for Adelaide today. Will rain save India and make Clarke regret that he wasted valuable wicket taking time by Ponting and co procrastinating at the batting crease instead of enforcing the follow on? One thing is certain, the game would have been well and truly over by now, with Australia having three innings victories in the series given India's pathetic batting throughout this series. That said, I still don't think the rain will save India, as it seems it will only be isolated rain, but I will laugh one day when a captain is deprived of a win through rain by his over cautious thinking in not enforcing the follow on. Australia have this complex against enforcing the follow on after the debacle of Calcutta 2001. The fact is, they should have easily drawn the match in Calcutta, and even if they did not enforce the follow on there, they still would not have won the game, given the batting by Dravid and Laxman at their respective peaks. Not so now!!

  • Martin on January 27, 2012, 23:01 GMT

    @Isaac on (January 27 2012, 21:23 PM GMT) - SUPERB comments from you. First Class. The 5 of us stand to applaud you!!!!! ALL should read your philosophy.

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