Australia v India, 1st Test, Adelaide, 5th day December 13, 2014

Lyon scripts incredible Australian win

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MacGill: Vijay's wicket was the turning point

Australia 7 for 517 dec (Smith 162*, Warner 145, Clarke 128) and 5 for 290 dec (Warner 102) beat India 444 (Kohli 115, Lyon 5-134) and 315 (Kohli 141, Vijay 99, Lyon 7-152) by 48 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

A gladiatorial battle between bat and ball took place on the final day at Adelaide Oval, where a Test that had begun in sorrow a week after the death of Phillip Hughes was given a dazzling finish that highlighted the greatness of this game. India's champion was Virat Kohli, a debutant captain with his sight fixed on a formidable target while all but one of his team-mates failed to show similar steel. For Australia, it was the spindly Nathan Lyon, suffering unsympathetic umpiring to single-handedly drag his team back into the contest, making up for the bluntness of his faster colleagues. The Test was decided when Kohli pulled Lyon and was caught at deep midwicket, leaving Australia with 60 to defend and three wickets to take. They won by 48 runs.

Having dismissed only two batsmen while conceding 205 runs in the first two sessions, and left with only 158 to protect in at least 37 overs after tea, Australia claimed the last eight Indian wickets for 73. Lyon took six of them to finish the Test with career-best match figures of 12 for 286, preventing India from stealing a match they had been behind in for four days. Kohli graciously acknowledged as much after the game, but had left nothing in reserve while trying to pull off what would have been the seventh highest successful chase in Test cricket. He become the second batsman - after Greg Chappell - to make two hundreds in a Test on captaincy debut.

The cricket, however, was affected by poor umpiring. While there were some sharp decisions made over the first four days, the standards slipped drastically on the fifth, but perhaps unwittingly facilitated such an extraordinary contest. Ian Gould adjudged Shikhar Dhawan caught behind for 9, though the Mitchell Johnson bouncer had deflected off the batsman's shoulder. Marais Erasmus was Lyon's bane, failing to give Vijay lbw when he did not offer a shot on 24 and 64, and Kohli on 85. Erasmus then deemed Ajinkya Rahane caught at short leg, though Lyon's offbreak had bounced off the top of the front pad. The sight of Lyon imploring theatrically, often on his knees, was a recurring one.

How did it come to such a finish? Clarke had declared before play began, setting India a target of 364 and giving his bowlers 98 overs to take ten wickets. Johnson and Lyon reduced India to 2 for 57, but the visitors recovered to 105 without further damage at lunch. Kohli and Vijay then batted through the entire second session and scored 100 runs, and Australia's wicketless plight was exacerbated by the loss of Clarke to a hamstring injury that forced him off the field for the rest of the day, and perhaps the rest of the series. Brad Haddin took over the leadership. So while the day had begun with an Australian win the most likely result, followed by a draw, and then an Indian victory, the final session started with that order reversed.

Lyon was put under pressure immediately after tea. His first four overs cost 25 runs as Vijay punctuated the steady drip-drip of ones and twos with a charge-and-smash over the long-on boundary and an artistic flick from outside off stump into the gap at deep midwicket. The second shot took Vijay to 99, and Lyon, despite so many decisions going against him, had the grace to applaud the skill exhibited. In the next over, from Ryan Harris, Kohli pushed towards mid-off and sprinted the single to bring up his second hundred of the Test, from 135 balls. His celebrations were not angry this time.

By the time Lyon had Vijay on strike again, the batsman had played six nervous balls on 99. Lyon bowled an offbreak - the sort he had been delivering all day for scant reward - that pitched in the rough outside off and spat sharply back at the right-hander. Vijay went deep into his crease, right in front of his stumps, and missed the flick. Erasmus was finally convinced and an lbw appeal was upheld for the first time in the match. India's second-wicket partnership was broken on 185 scored at 3.71 to the over; they were 122 from victory and had seven wickets in hand. Five balls later, Rahane was sawn off. There was no increment in the total.

Kohli now faced an entirely different reality, one driven home by Rohit Sharma's struggles to cope with the conditions. It firmed his aggression. Kohli caressed Harris through extra cover, whipped Lyon through mid-on, and steered and pulled Johnson for consecutive boundaries, bringing India within less than 100 runs of victory. He also passed his previous best Test score of 119.

Lyon would not be cowed. He delivered a craftily flighted offbreak that dipped as Rohit lunged outside off stump to defend. It spun sharply, smacked the glove and lobbed towards the alert David Warner at leg slip. India still needed 85; Australia were a wicket away from the tail.

Having watched Kohli slap Lyon against the turn to the cover boundary, Wriddhiman Saha also attacked the offspinner, following a six over long-off with a sweep to the square-leg boundary. Lyon was undeterred and continued to toss it up, and a ball later Saha was beaten on the charge and bowled.

The game had now decisively swung in Australia's favour. Only Kohli remained. He had swept Lyon authoritatively all day - not conventional sweeps but hard, flat-batted ones - and he did so again to keep India's hope flickering. Lyon's next ball was short - it was one of his worse deliveries - and Kohli went back to pull. The aim was to reduce the 60 runs required by four or six, but he dragged the shot towards Mitchell Marsh at deep midwicket. Marsh ran in, sank to his knees, and smiled in relief after taking the catch. Kohli stood for an age in his crease, crestfallen over his bat, as the Australians rejoiced at the match-winning wicket. They knew surviving 16.2 overs was a task beyond India's tail.

Kohli walked off to a rousing ovation. Not long after, the Adelaide Oval crowd rose again after India's last wicket had fallen to applaud Lyon and his team-mates as they left the field. The Test had been given a memorable finish, but Kohli's feat on the fifth day had disguised the mismatch it had been over the first four. India's bowlers had managed to take only 12 wickets. Lyon had matched that on his own.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Manesh on December 15, 2014, 4:05 GMT

    Dhavan, Rohit, Karan and Saha are the mismatch in Indian team. We can excuse Karan and Saha as not experienced, but need to replace Dhavan and Rohit. If Kohli will be the captain for the rest of the series, I am sure he will give chance to Rahul and Raina in the next match. I donot expect any miracles from Raina, but you need to test them.BTW, incredible captaincy from Kohli. Give full credit to him for the attempts of a win. Need to support him by giving captaincy for the remaining test matches.

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2014, 21:37 GMT

    What a game of Test cricket I have seen.. Definitely the best test match I watched live. I used to watch test matches only when Sehwag was at the crease. Now, I watched the test when Kohli was playing. The hope of winning is always there when Kohli was at the crease. Vijay is equally awesome as he played so many balls in such tricky situations. When Rohit Sharma came to the crease, I knew I will see him walk back in no time and he didn't disappoint me. Its Saha who disappointed me after some fluent strokes but he is was looking comfortable at the crease unlike Rohit. This is what happens when people who scores runs on flat wickets and substandard bowling. Is it mumbai lobby thats keeping Rohit in the team? Why should we watch such horrible players in a live match? Its such a disgrace. Ashwin is a far better underrated batsman than this so called talented Rohit. It was a great game of cricket played by Kohli and Vijay.

  • Kumar on December 14, 2014, 19:08 GMT

    This is for Indian Management - a to do list. 1. Get Karn Sharma on a plane back to India - get him to train under Kumble, Harbjan etc. - he is not ready yet for tests. 2. Sit Rohit out - get Suresh Raina in the team - Rohit needs to up his game - a lot. 3. Take our pacers to practice good length - good length and bounce, with whatever swing we can get will do good to keep the targets down. 4. Get Dhoni / Virat to constantly monitor and change the field setting. At the first sign of a batsman having trouble with a certain bowler, tighten up the fielding - the Aussies did that - the least it will choke the run flow. 5. And include a decent spinner in the team - we are playing against Australia for Gods sake!

  • srikanthan on December 14, 2014, 13:59 GMT

    Kohli looks the closest to the Dravids and Tendulkars and Laxmans. In terms of strokeplay as of now he looks as good as SRT . Dravid and SRT were good in England as well as Australia, SRT more in Australia and Dravid more in England but were terrific in different conditions. Kohli's technical deficiencies were badly exposed in England but he is in the mould of the earlier greats , will learn and hopefully do well in England. He has overcome failures and shown mental strength. Let us see how he will do in the remaining tests where the conditions could well be pacier ,bouncier and may be a little bit of swing. Raina could well replace Rohit Sharma who fails in trying conditions, atleast Raina will try and is a team man , better attitude and worth giving a few more tries

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2014, 13:20 GMT

    For the first time India looked great and competitive on foregn soil. In both the innings they had 350+ score. In last trip in foreign soil, England, They could not reach the mark of 300 even. Guess the reason - Virat Kohli was the captain and did not hide behind the defensive shield! As opposed to great Indian cricketers I have been suggesting that Virat should be made Captain and Dhoni should give up captaincy gracfully and wicket keeping on foreign soil. He should join the team as a batsman. Dhaoni has been the greatest Captain on Indian soil but on foreign, perhaps the worst. His experience should be valueable. My second suggestion has been to bring The Great Sehvag back as an opener. Even if he makes 25 runs as an opener this will provide strong incentive to the players, Besides his experience will be matchless in guiding younger players.

  • Dummy4 on December 14, 2014, 12:30 GMT

    dear @android_user, u seem to have lost completely. cricket is a team game. so lets not indulge in name-game. As for rohit is considered he just could'n get to thepitch of the ball. a piece of advice here: lets comment which r logistic & make some sense from cricketing point of view, & not play selectors as to who should picked or dropped.

  • Srinivas on December 14, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    Kohli didn't win but he did the next best thing. He tried to win. Give him another shot at it and he will do exactly the same. As an Indian fan, what more can I ask for?

  • geoff on December 14, 2014, 12:07 GMT

    @espncricinfomobile - If you think that picking five very ordinary bowlers instead of four very ordinary bowlers will improve India's chances might I suggest you look up the meaning of "delusion". A great deal of deserved praise for Kohli on these pages from both Indian and Australian supporters, but very little mention of Warner's twin tons from Indian supporters. Kohli's second ton was made under the pressure of trying to secure a win for his team, but both of Warner's were made under the pressure of opening against the new ball. It could be argued that Warner's onslaught on the opening day was instrumental in Australia's eventual win.

  • Android on December 14, 2014, 11:11 GMT

    Yes, Rohit lost the match for India.. The Indian bowlers had taken 20 wickets, aus had been thrashed by India over the last 4 days. No wrong decision against Australia. Dhawan thrashed the bowlers around.. Yes 10 players were playing for an Indian win and only Rohit lost it for India.. let's drop him and bring in raina. On a quick pitch, against bouncers.. Yup Raina is our saviour... and dhawan is our match winner for sure..

  • Nish on December 14, 2014, 9:50 GMT

    Apart from some bad umpiring decisions that went against India - which is purely BCCI's fault for their intransigence in refusing to accept DRS - the reason for losing this match was purely down to team selection! Don't know what they were thinking in picking a rookie spinner for a start! Australia stuck to their frontline spinner - despite him having a bad time against the Pakistanis only recently & he won them this match. If India also just go in with three seamers in every match, these bowlers chosen will just pick up injuries and/or be knackered due to the excessive overs they are being asked to bowl - thereby reducing their effectiveness & wicket-taking abilities, particularly with the Tests now squeezed tightly together in the revised itinerary.

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