The destroyer: Mitch Johnson after dismissing India’s Ajinkya Rahane. Photo: Getty Images
They made hard work of the run chase, but Australia defeated India by four wickets in the Brisbane Test after a wrecking-ball performance from Mitchell Johnson caused the touring side to implode.
Fittingly, Johnson was at the crease when the winning runs were scored (by another Mitch, the hamstrung allrounder Marsh sending a cover drive to the boundary) to extend Australia’s series lead to two-nil with two Tests to play.
On your way: Ishant Sharma has words for Dave Warner after removing the Australian opener. Photo: Getty Images
While Australia can’t lose the series they need to win it outright to regain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Having made 88 in the partnership with victorious captain Steve Smith that turned the Test in Australia’s favour on day three, Johnson ensured it would finish on day four with a vintage spell of menacing fast bowling on Saturday morning.
He took 3-10 in 11 balls to leave the Indian team in disarray.
Timely runs: Australian opener Chris Rogers scored his second half century of the match. Photo: Getty Images
The tourists had control of the Test after day one but allowed their advantage to slip, first by being bowled out for 408 and then by conceding a 148-run stand to Smith and Johnson.
Then, on Saturday, they folded for 224 in their second innings after losing six wickets in a session of carnage.
It was only a feisty 81 from opener Shikhar Dhawan, nursing an injured wrist, that enabled the tourists to set Australia a modest target of 128 for victory.
Australia slumped to 2-25 after losing David Warner for six and Shane Watson for a duck, but Chris Rogers posted his second-half-century for the match in dashing style before he was caught in the slips.
Smith, named man of the match for his first innings century, was dropped on nine, then run out for 28. And Brad Haddin holed out for one, leaving the Mitches to see Australia home.
Warner was struck a nasty blow to the thumb by fast bowler Umesh Yadav before his dismissal but Australian medical staff said they did not believe he had a broken bone.
While the Australian run chase was less than convincing, Johnson’s 4-61 showed he was back to his best after more subdued performances earlier in the series.
India, having fought hard for the best part of eight days, caved in spectacularly.
It didn’t help India’s cause to complain about the practice wickets at the Gabba, which they claimed contributed to injuries to Dhawan and Virat Kohli before play, while the team collapsed in the middle.
Dhawan did not resume his innings at the start of play, with Kohli instead accompanying Cheteshwar Pujara to the crease.
He didn’t last long, chopping on a ball from from Johnson for one.
In Johnson’s next over, Ajinkya Rahane was caught at backward point and Rohit Sharma was caught behind wafting away from his body.
When Josh Hazlewood had captain MS Dhoni lbw for a second-ball duck, the Indian innings was in ruins at 5-87.
Ravi Ashwin fell to a dubious caught behind decision – the ball seemed to clip his pad rather than his bat – and Dhawan rejoined Pujara at the crease.
But the latter fended a catch to gully from a steepling ball from Hazlewood for 43.