Dravid's heroics topple Australia
India 523 and 233 for 6 (Dravid 72*) beat Australia 556 and 196 by 4 wickets
Rahul Dravid took India all the way
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Rahul Dravid turned in his second heroic innings of the match, as India etched out a magnificent four-wicket victory at the Adelaide Oval to go 1-0 up in the four-Test series - their first win in Australia since their triumph at Melbourne in 1980-81. Following up his 233 in the first innings, Dravid remained undefeated on 72 - and hit the winning runs, a cut off Stuart MacGill - as India nailed their target of 230 just after tea on the final day.
In the end, the win came easily enough, with VVS Laxman providing the impetus to the innings with a breezy 32 of 34 balls, but for much of the day, it was a struggle, as the Australians fought all the way despite being severely hampered by injuries to two of their bowlers. Jason Gillespie walked off with a groin strain midway through his tenth over, while Brad Williams showed plenty of heart in bowling despite an injured left shoulder.
In an intense and tension-filled morning session, the Australian bowlers came at the Indians with plenty of fire. Williams gave Dravid a thorough working-over, and was desperately unlucky not to nail him: Adam Gilchrist dropped the chance after Dravid edged a delivery which pitched perfectly in the corridor. Dravid was on 9 then, and India, who had already lost Akash Chopra early, trapped in front by Gillespie for 20 (47 for 1), would have been 73 for 2.
The second wicket did fall soon after, but it was Virender Sehwag who fell, after making an uncharacteristically restrained 47, from 81 balls. With the runs drying up, Sehwag charged down the pitch to MacGill, missed, and was comfortably stumped (79 for 2).
Sachin Tendulkar and Dravid took India to lunch, and well past it, with a 70-run stand. After missing out in his first two innings of the series, Tendulkar was far more assured this time around. He started off with a paddle-sweep off MacGill for four, then unleashed some confident drives and pulls whenever the bowlers erred in length. Williams came back for a second spell, and, despite bowling at a reduced pace of about 130 kmph, tested both batsmen with his reverse-swing. The partnership threatened to shut Australia out of the match when MacGill, who had until then bowled mostly from round the wicket, changed angle, and struck. Tendulkar failed to read a straighter one which pitched on middle-and-leg, shouldered arms, and was trapped in front for 37 (149 for 3).
When Sourav Ganguly departed soon after, scooping a drive off Andy Bichel to Simon Katich at point for 12 (170 for 4), India needed a further 60, and Australia were back in the contest.
Laxman changed the momentum of the match in a flash, taking full toll of the loose balls that MacGill threw up. Dravid had missed out on a couple of full tosses earlier, but Laxman made every bad ball count, caressing drives through cover and midwicket, and then cutting a short delivery to the point fence, as three fours came from a MacGill over.
Dravid grew in confidence too, dispatching a long-hop from MacGill through cover, as the pair added 51 in quick time. Laxman played a shot too many and was dismissed soon after tea, mistiming a hoick off Katich to Bichel (221 for 5), but by then, with victory only nine runs away, the issue had already been decided. Parthiv Patel contrived to delay the moment, when he was bowled round his legs by Katich, but that only allowed, fittingly, Ajit Agarkar and Dravid - India's heroes in this Test - to be together when the winning runs were hit.
S Rajesh is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.