Hayden and Ponting seal Australian victory
Australia 558 and 97 for 1 (Hayden 53*) beat India 366 and 286 by 9 wickets
You can't keep a good team down: Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting helped Australia rediscover their winning ways
Australia coasted to an easy victory on the fifth morning at the MCG, and it was only fitting that the two men who really set up this match for them, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting, knocked off the 95 required to draw level in the series. Steve Waugh's final series is now set up tantalisingly, and the teams will go into the final Test at Sydney in three days' time with Australia having much of the momentum, and India, memories of Adelaide.
Hayden and Ponting had put on 234 in the first innings, and this morning they put on 88 for the second wicket after Justin Langer was out early. Hayden was himself distinctly fortunate to survive an lbw appeal off Ashish Nehra early in his innings, but after this he took to the bowling with a succession of meaty drives and swings to leg, and just before the winning runs were struck he nonchalantly launched Anil Kumble over the infield to bring up his half-century. Ponting was as assured as ever, working the ball sweetly on both sides of the wicket to finish with 31 not out. This match was his Test just as the Adelaide Test was Rahul Dravid's.
India's one success on the morning was almost predictable: Ajit Agarkar took Langer's wicket for the fifth time in the series, rapping him on the pads with a late inswinger (9 for 1). Langer has been out to Agarkar in this fashion once every Test match, and there was still a flicker of hope for India at this stage, but this brought Australia's two most prolific batsmen together, and after a steady start they accelerated and got home at a canter.
Chandrahas Choudhury is a staff writer with Wisden Asia Cricket magazine.