Magic Johnson inspires Australia to second test win

  • Cricket
  • Saturday, 20 Dec 2014

(Reuters) - Mitchell Johnson's brilliance with both bat and ball inspired Australia to a four-wicket second test victory over India and an unassailable 2-0 series lead at the Gabba in Brisbane on Saturday.

Mitch Marsh hit the winning runs as Australia survived a few wobbles to chase down their target of 128 after tea on the fourth day of the contest but there was little doubt that two interventions from Johnson set up the victory.

On Friday, Australia were 247-6 chasing India's first innings 408 when Johnson came out and smashed 88 runs from 93 balls in a Gabba record seventh-wicket stand of 148 with skipper Steve Smith that turned the match on its head.

On Saturday, India had resumed their second innings on 71-1 looking to quickly make up the 26-run deficit on Australia's total of 505 and build another imposing score.

Half an hour later, their hopes were shattered as Johnson (4-61), ably assisted by debutant paceman Josh Hazlewood (2-74), ripped through the batting to leave India pondering yet another collapse at 87 for five.

In one dizzying 11-ball spell, Johnson took three for 10 by removing Virat Kohli (1), Ajinkya Rahane (10) and Rohit Sharma (0). Hazlewood, who took 5-68 in the first innings, removed India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for a duck in the next over.

"Mitch certainly turned it on for us in that little spell this morning, that really cracked the game open for us," said Smith after tasting victory in his first match as captain in place of the injured Michael Clarke.

"All the bowlers, to be fair, produced the goods for us. I thought Joshy Hazlewood was outstanding and Nathan Lyon came on and did a job here and there."

It was another disappointing day on the road for the tourists, who had dominated the first day on the back of Murali Vijay's 144 as Australia's bowlers wilted in the sweltering heat.

They were still in the contest at the start of play on Saturday and Dhoni blamed the confusion after Shikhar Dhawan declaring himself unfit to resume his innings for creating "unrest" in the dressing room.

"It is disappointing but what is more important is to reason out why it happened," he told reporters.

"The first session today was crucial and we didn't handle it very well. If we had been able to got a decent partnership together and pushed it into a fifth day, then we could have exploited the conditions more."

Dhawan, who injured his right wrist in the nets, was later forced to cancel his trip to the hospital for scans and resume his innings, providing some resistance in an innings of 81 before India were dismissed for 224.

Australia's run chase was far from perfectly handled either and question marks will be raised over the batting of Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh and Brad Haddin who were among the six wickets to fall.


Smith, who was also run out with six runs still required, was fairly relaxed about the high casualty rate before Mitch Marsh's cover drive for four got them over the line.

"I would have liked to have been there in the end but I guess that's cricket and I'm just happy we got there," he said.

"The wicket was still pretty good and the boys were going after them to try and get the runs pretty quickly tonight, so no real hiccup there."

Smith was "extremely satisfied" with the victory to take a 2-0 lead into the final two matches in Melbourne and Sydney, especially after a day one when Australia were under the cosh with bowlers, as he put it, "dropping like flies".

Taking the man of the match award for his superbly controlled 133 in the first innings, Smith was happy to pay credit to Johnson for his role in turning the match around.

"I think it was a big turning point in the game to get that partnership there with Mitch. To get 500 runs in the first innings was just crucial for us," he said.

"It was just amazing the way Mitch came out and took on the bowlers on from ball one. It was outstanding."

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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