Australian resilience was writ large across a four-wicket victory over India that will look a little fortunate in the scorebook without reference to the dressing-room scenes on day one, when India seemed set fair for a mighty first innings and Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were all either lost to injury or weakened by fatigue.
Hazlewood's recovery from full-body cramps to prise out India on the second morning set-up the match, and the combined efforts of the new captain Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Chris Rogers, Starc and Nathan Lyon ultimately allowed the hosts to overwhelm India by a greater margin than the first Test in Adelaide. For Smith it was a significant triumph, emerging victorious after a first day he described among the toughest he had ever endured, as either player or captain.
MS Dhoni's men were adequately placed to fight their corner when day four began, but they crumbled in the face of concerted pace and pressure from Johnson on a pitch that had begun to deteriorate. Only Shikhar Dhawan, who did not walk out to bat at 10am because he had been struck on the wrist in the practice nets, offered any sustained resistance, and his dismissal lbw to Lyon after lunch heralded a swift end to India's innings. They had never recovered from Johnson's burst in the morning session.
In the space of a single spell he prompted Kohli to drag onto the stumps, bounced out Ajinkya Rahane and coaxed an edge behind from Rohit Sharma. When Hazlewood chimed in to pin Dhoni lbw, India had lost 4 for 11 and any semblance of control over the game. R Ashwin endured for a time but was given out caught behind off Starc, when the ball may have brushed thigh rather than bat, and Cheteshwar Pujara's stubborn innings was ended by a sharp lifter from Hazlewood that looped off the shoulder of the bat to gully.
Left with 128 to chase down in a little more than a day and a session, Australia endured an early hiccup when David Warner was struck a sharp blow on the thumb in Umesh Yadav's first over. Warner struggled visibly to bat thereafter until he edged Ishant Sharma behind, though closer inspection in the dressing room suggested no fracture had been sustained. Nonetheless it demonstrated how difficult batting had become, and another 50 runs may have been enough for India.
Shane Watson skied an attempted hook at Ishant to be out for a duck, but an uncertain 2 for 25 at tea was added to quickly on resumption by a busy and businesslike Rogers, who knew from years of opening that such fourth-innings chases are best treated with decisive strokes to quickly tip the scoreboard in favour of the pursuers. A rattling 55 left Smith in the shade during their stand of 63, and when Rogers sliced Ishant into the cordon the target was in sight.
A late flurry of wickets, including Smith's run-out and Brad Haddin being bounced out for the second time in the match, left a few questions hanging in the air, not least the cost of Smith being dropped badly by Kohli at slip when Australia were not yet halfway there. The taking of that catch may have addled minds that have quickly become accustomed to seeing Smith play a dominant hand in proceedings for his team. But it went down, maintaining an India display that had, since that first day, been rather listless.
Subdued is a word that can have been used for Johnson in this series until day three, but he had been roused to life with the bat by an uncertain match situation and some Indian goading. He followed that up with his best bowling of the series on the fourth morning, cramping and defeating Kohli before finding sharp enough bounce to confound Rahane and Rohit.
Dhoni had jumped forward and across his stumps a long way when Hazlewood pitched straight and full, and Ashwin never quite suggested permanence. Pujara's dismissal to another Hazlewood steepler completed a wretched morning for the visitors and a storming one for the hosts.
Dhawan played sensibly and well despite his sore wrist, and a stand of 60 with Umesh was taking on useful proportions when Lyon straightened one from around the wicket to draw an lbw verdict from Marais Erasmus. Varun Aaron skied a slog and Umesh connected more sweetly with a pair of straight hits before Johnson found an edge to give Brad Haddin his ninth catch of the Test.
Within a couple of hours they were celebrating a 2-0 series ledger, and a most heartening start to Smith's captaincy.