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Although Australia completed their 16th win in consecutive Tests in three days and by a vast margin, it was not as straightforward as it might appear: in their first innings, they lost five wickets before reaching three figures. Moreover, Steve Waugh's decision to put India in had been a major gamble, given the doubts about the durability of the pitch, even though the Wankhede Stadium invariably offers encouragement for seam bowlers on the first morning. Happily for him, his bowlers met his immediate expectations and later, by dismissing India cheaply a second time, left Australia needing only 47 in the final innings.
McGrath was outstanding, conceding a run an over, and Warne most guileful. But the Indians contributed to their plight through poor technique or misjudgment. True, the pitch was not of the desired quality, with spin accompanying bounce from day one, but they did bat first while it was at its best. Only Dravid and Ganguly were genuinely beaten, and even Tendulkar, meticulous and solid for 139 minutes, eventually succumbed from driving on the up at a widish ball. He batted responsibly, but not without flair, as indicated by his 13 fours.
Australia, who had 16 overs of batting before the close of play, were 99 for five when the second day was little over an hour old, with the ball turning consistently and quite menacingly. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh took three quick wickets - Langer and Mark Waugh, brilliantly caught, from successive balls - and Rahul Sanghvi, the left-arm orthodox spinner making his debut, had Steve Waugh held at slip. Despite this shocking start, however, the tourists were in a commanding position less than three hours later.
Not for the first time in his 16-month Test career, Gilchrist brought about a sudden and dramatic change in Australia's fortunes. His 122 off 112 balls, with 15 fours and four sixes, was almost a replica of his celebrated maiden century against Pakistan at Hobart in November 1999. The spinners could not find the line or length to shackle his sweeping, pulling and pull-driving. He went from 50 to 100 in only 29 balls and, having given a chance at 44 - Badani, a substitute, running back at mid-wicket, was not athletic enough to complete the catch off a top edge - immediately survived an overhead chance to slip.
Hayden, who had batted stolidly throughout the early collapse, heartily joined in the assault, using much the same methods, and the two left-handers added 197, a record for Australia's sixth wicket against India, in 32 overs. He reached his century one over after Gilchrist, despite a 30-over start, and his eventual 119, in 172 balls, included 18 fours and a six. Ganguly's options for stemming the tide of runs, or breaking the partnership, had been reduced while Srinath was off the field for treatment to an injured finger, but no sooner was he available again than he had Hayden caught behind.
India's second innings was another shambles. Ramesh was flattered by a score of 44, and just after he was out, night-watchman Mongia was struck on the finger by Gillespie and retired. Next day, Dravid and Tendulkar resisted hostile first spells by McGrath and Gillespie to bat through the morning and frustrate the Australians. But once Tendulkar, who again batted in masterly fashion, was out to a sensational catch by Ponting, the decline was rapid. India lost their last eight wickets for 65, including Agarkar's seventh duck in consecutive Test innings against Australia. Tendulkar, pulling, had struck Langer at short leg on the shoulder, and the impact kept the ball in the air long enough for Ponting to sprint and dive for it.
Australia's openers required only seven overs to win the match on the third evening, with Slater's unbeaten 19 taking him past 5,000 Test runs. He was later fined half his match fee and given a one-match ban, suspended for six months, for discussing in a radio interview his on-field altercation with umpire Venkat and batsman Dravid following a disallowed catch in India's second innings.
Man of the Match: A. C. Gilchrist.
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