India reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy
India regained the coveted Border-Gavaskar Trophy, their first series win over Australia in eight years, after they bowled Australia out for 209 to win by 172 runs
India 441 (Tendulkar 109, Ganguly 85, Sehwag 66, Laxman 64, Dhoni 56, Krejza 8-215) and 295 (Sehwag 92, Dhoni 55, Harbhajan 52, Watson 4-42, Krejza 4-143) beat Australia 355 (Katich 102, Hussey 90) and 209 (Hayden 77, Harbhajan 4-64, Mishra 3-27 ) by 172 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball-details
How they were out
Amit Mishra followed up a stunning run out with three wickets in India's 172-run triumph over Australia
|That it happened in the same city where Australia famously conquered the final frontier four years ago was poignant. India regained the coveted Border-Gavaskar Trophy, their first series win over Australia in eight years, after they bowled Australia out for 209 to win by 172 runs. It was a dramatic day, with an energetic India following up three early wickets with dropped catches to allow Matthew Hayden score a pugnacious 77 and give Australia a whiff of victory. India's spinners held their nerve, however, and relentlessly plugged away with precision and hostility to snuff out the seven wickets required to regain the trophy squandered in 2004. India confidently stepped into a new era with their captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, winning his third Test in a row.
India began the day well. Simon Katich had played the horizontal shot a couple times, once connecting with a swing to the deep square-leg boundary, but trying to work a short ball across to the on side once too often, he skied Ishant Sharma into orbit. Dhoni didn't for a second take his eyes off the swirling ball - 29 for 1.
Zaheer Khan produced an edge from the first delivery bowled to Ponting, squared up on the back foot, but the ball didn't carry to Rahul Dravid at first slip. One classy on-drive later, Ponting was wastefully run out for 4. He dabbed and set off for an extremely ambitious single and Amit Mishra, screaming in from mid-off, threw down the stumps with a brilliant underarm pick-up and fling - 37 for 2.
Ishant couldn't believe Michael Clarke wasn't given lbw by the umpire Billy Bowden in the next over when the ball incriminatingly thudded into his left pad - replays showed it would have clipped leg stump - and Zaheer had to grit his teeth when the batsman twice edged wide of second slip in three balls. Hayden also chopped through the slips, looking to score off almost every delivery against the new ball. India missed a big opportunity when he was on 30. Harbhajan Singh came in after 12 overs and cursed under his breath when Dhoni dropped a regulation edge as Hayden tried to cut the second ball for four.
The dismissal of Clarke for 22, nibbling at a lovely delivery as Ishant plugged away on an exemplary length, seemed to have nailed it decisively India's way at 82 for 3. Then Dravid, at slip, dropped Hayden on 36 when the batsman went for another powerful reverse-sweep. To add to the mess, needless overthrows and misfields in the circle allowed Australia easy runs as they set about chasing a big score.
It was evident that Hayden had victory on his mind. Swatting away almost everything the spinners tossed him, Hayden rediscovered the rhythm that had eluded him for much of this series. He continued to pick his spots with powerful sweeps - the shot with which he made his name in 2001 - and some deft reverse-sweeps. Harbhajan was swept for consecutive boundaries, both shots bisecting two men in the deep, and a six off Virender Sehwag over mid-on set the pulses racing. The run-rate had now gone well past five an over.
Then Mishra struck with a superb piece of wrist spin to dismiss Michael Hussey. Mishra fizzed up a topspinner on nearly a perfect length and extracted bounce, which drew an edge to Dravid at slip. This time he held it cleanly and Mishra erupted.
The worst came four deliveries later for Australia. Harbhajan floated down an airy, turning delivery and Hayden, having just smashed a four through midwicket, shuffled across and was struck beneath the knee roll, plumb in front. A flatfooted Brad Haddin then scooped Mishra to mid-off, feeding Sachin Tendulkar his 100th catch in Test cricket, and the end was nigh. Shane Watson nibbled a cut off Harbhajan into Dhoni's gloves for 9, Jason Krejza was stumped when two-thirds down the track to Mishra, and Brett Lee edged Harbhajan to short leg.
In a touching tribute to Sourav Ganguly, who signed off in this Test, Dhoni let him captain the side as the final rites were being administered. When the last wicket fell just before tea, Mitchell Johnson trapped lbw by a Harbhajan doosra, Ganguly and Dhoni embraced at the centre of India's raucous celebrations. Ganguly had played a key role in shaping cricket's most enthralling current rivalry back in 2001, and he can leave the game knowing that it has been passed on into worthy hands. Dhoni led his team off in style, while people made room for Ganguly to say his final goodbyes. There was no overly emotional reaction from Ganguly; bar one fling at Lord's, his touch had always been too nuanced for that.
For Indian fans this win may not be as emotional or emphatic as Rawalpindi in 2004 or Jamaica in in 2006 - where India broke elusive and painstaking barriers - but there's no denying the significance of this Indian autumn.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo