At Hyderabad (Uppal), March 2-5, 2013. India won by an innings and 135 runs. Toss: Australia. Test debut: G. J. Maxwell.
Australia's tenth-heaviest defeat could be summed up by a single statistic: two Indians scored more in one partnership than 11 Australians managed in the entire game. While a stand of 370 between Vijay and Pujara served as a prototype for batting in India, Australia could not have been more dispirited after totalling 368 across two innings. It took only ten sessions for India to move into a 2-0 lead.
India were unchanged from the First Test, while Australia chose two spinners, neither of whom was Nathan Lyon. Their first-choice slow bowler for 18 months, Lyon was dropped amid claims from coach Mickey Arthur that he had technical issues after leaking 244 runs at Chennai. Mitchell Starc was also left out, so in came slow left-armer Xavier Doherty for a rare Test outing, and debutant Glenn Maxwell, a batting all-rounder who bowled off-spin. The whole thing reeked of a selectorial fudge.
Australia batted first on a pitch that had a few cracks but did not resemble Chennai's clay-like appearance. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, wicketless on debut, was a greater threat here, and his accurate, skiddy seamers produced three wickets in the first session. Ashwin accounted for the hapless Hughes, and it was not until Clarke and Wade - who had fractured a cheekbone during throwdowns the day before the game - that Australia produced a partnership of substance. Their stand of 145 for the fifth wicket showed the conditions could be mastered with patience and common sense. But Wade's fortitude deserted him on 62: the ball after surviving a stumping chance, he thrashed Harbhajan Singh to backward point.
The Australians lost wickets in clumps: four for 63 at the top, five for 28 at the bottom. Jadeja and Harbhajan ran through the middle order, and Clarke threw his wicket away on 91 trying for late runs. Despite being Australia's best batsman over the last two years, he had insisted on staying at No. 5. But his experience here, where he ran out of partners, later persuaded him that he would have to move up the order.
The innings ended not with a wicket but a declaration: on 237 for nine, Clarke called in the last pair, hoping his bowlers could winkle a breakthrough in the three overs before stumps. Excluding rain-affected matches, it was the lowest total on which a captain had declared in the first innings of a Test, and the first time it had been done on an opening day since Pakistan's Intikhab Alam tried something similar at Lord's in 1974. But Clarke's boldness was not rewarded with a late strike.
The second morning began with a minute's silence for the victims of terrorist bombings in Hyderabad the day before the series began: 17 people had been killed and more than 100 injured. Once the cricket got under way, Sehwag was caught behind for six, his ninth successive Test innings without a fifty; he would soon be dropped for the rest of the series. His dismissal also marked the starting point of one of India's greatest partnerships. Whereas Australia's batting had been as fluent as a bad jazz improvisation, Vijay and Pujara raised the tempo like master composers guiding their audience to a climax. They began with 37 in 22 overs; added 106 between lunch and tea as they became more comfortable with the conditions; then opened out with 151 before stumps as Australia wilted.
Their coda was another 76 on the third morning, before Maxwell had Vijay caught at leg slip for 167. Pujara hooked a catch to fine leg soon afterwards for 204, but together they had shared India's fourth-highest Test partnership. Their alliance lasted seven and a quarter hours, fell only six short of the 376 added by Rahul Dravid and V. V. S. Laxman against Australia during the follow-on at Kolkata in 2000-01, and left India 150 ahead with eight wickets still to come.
In the event, the Australians did well to dismiss them for 503. Maxwell took four wickets and Doherty three, but it could not disguise the fact that, when it mattered, neither posed any real threat. Doherty bowled too full and spun it too little; Maxwell imparted some turn, but lacked guile against the two right-handers, and was easily worked through - and over - leg. The only Australian spinner whose standing was enhanced during this Test was the absent Lyon.
Australia began the second innings trailing by 266, but had at least been shown how to bat. And for a time it appeared Cowan and Warner, who put on 56, had taken notice. But from there it all fell apart. The Australians had discussed the importance of playing straight and avoiding cross-bat shots, but Warner was bowled around his legs trying to sweep Ashwin, and Hughes - continuing his awful record against spin - fell immediately in exactly the same manner. From 75 for two, they lost eight for 56 and, three minutes after the fourth day's scheduled lunch break, the match was over. Only Cowan, with 44 from 150 balls, showed any resolve.
Clarke, who had become the first captain in history to lose a Test by an innings after declaring in the first, described Australia's shot selection as "horrible" - and it was impossible to disagree. As India celebrated, the Australians set up a makeshift net on the pitch, desperate for their batsmen to gain as much exposure as possible to the conditions. Little did they know that their problems in the week ahead would instead emerge off the field.
Man of the Match: C. A. Pujara.