Australia chase down victory in Brisbane

(Reuters) – Australia made a meal of it but successfully chased down 128 for a four-wicket victory and an unassailable 2-0 series lead after dismissing India for 224 on the fourth day of the second test at the Gabba in Brisbane today.

Mitchell Marsh hit the winning runs after Indian paceman Ishant Sharma had given the hosts cause for some nerves by removing David Warner and Shane Watson cheaply and bringing an end to a solid innings of 55 from opener Chris Rogers.

The nerves deepened when Shaun Marsh was caught behind off Umesh Yadav with Australia 14 runs from their target before Steve Smith was run out for 28 and vice captain Brad Haddin caught in the deep with victory in sight.

Injured all rounder Mitchell Marsh (six not out) ushered Australia over the line with a cover drive for four and Mitchell Johnson finished with an unbeaten two.

“It’s nice to get home there in the end,” stand-in captain Smith, who was named Man of the Match after scoring a century in his first innings, said in a pitchside interview.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t there at the end to do it, but Chris Rogers came out and played positively and got the runs to get us over the line.”

The day had started with the match still in the balance but a magical spell of fast bowling from Johnson (4-61) in the first 20 minutes of play triggered an Indian collapse and the tourists lost their last nine wickets for 153 runs.

India had resumed on 71-1 without opener Dhawan, who was injured warming up in the nets, looking to rub the last 26 runs off their first innings deficit and build another imposing tally to match their first innings 408.

Johnson, though, reprised the onslaught that drove his country to victory in the opening Ashes test at the same ground last year, taking three for 10 in 11 balls in the first 20 minutes.

“My job in this team is to get out there and get wickets and be aggressive,” Johnson said.

“It’s just nice to feel some rhythm and contribute to the team.”

Backing up the pugnacious innings of 88 that brought Australia back into the match on Friday, Johnson summoned up pace and venom to remove Virat Kohli (1), Ajinkya Rahane (10) and Rohit Sharma (0).

Debutant paceman Josh Hazlewood, who took five for 68 in the first innings, then pitched in by trapping India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in front for a duck with the second ball of the following over to leave the tourists reeling.

India had crept passed Australia’s first innings tally of 505 when Ravi Ashwin was dismissed for 19 and Dhawan’s trip to hospital for X-rays on his injured right wrist was hurriedly cancelled so he could rejoin Cheteshwar Pujara in the middle.

Pujara had brought the only solidity to the innings but he too departed just before lunch for 43, giving Hazlewood his second victim of the day and sending India into lunch clinging on at 157-7.

Dhawan and Umesh Yadav, however, put on 60 for the eighth wicket to give India some hope but when the opener finally departed for 81, Australia soon mopped up the tail.

Australia won the first test in Adelaide by 48 runs last weekend to take a lead in the series, which was rescheduled after the death of Phillip Hughes and concludes with matches in Melbourne and Sydney.

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