Australia's fast bowlers completed an innings-and-37-run destruction of India minutes after lunch on day three of the third Test, snatching the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in the most emphatic style imaginable. Ryan Harris split a stubborn stand between Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid before Peter Siddle nicked out MS Dhoni in the shadows of the interval, and Ben Hilfenhaus razed the tail with three wickets in five balls on resumption.
Siddle found Kohli's outside edge to complete proceedings, heralding the start of rich celebrations for the hosts following victory over opponents who never came to terms with the challenges posed by Australia's bowlers and conditions. The performance of the match was by a home batsman however, and it was a measure of the Man-of-the-Match David Warner's 180 that India's batsmen fell short of his individual tally in each innings.
His efforts gave the pace ensemble a chance to squeeze India, and all the bowlers contributed in another strikingly even performance. Harris will bowl far worse and claim five wickets rather than the one he plucked in the second innings, while Siddle and Hilfenhaus maintained their outstanding marriage of pressure and late movement. Mitchell Starc, of course, had made two critical breaks on the second evening.
Dravid and Kohli provided the staunchest Indian batting resistance of the match in a union of 84, but were never completely in control against Harris, who deservedly found a way past Dravid towards the end of an exacting spell. Siddle's dismissal of Dhoni was a familiar sight, the captain's edge snapped up by Ricky Ponting in the cordon.
Kohli's innings was a beacon of hope for India's future, demonstrating strong technique and a stronger mind to cope with Australia's bowling that did not flag in considerable heat. Following up a similarly composed 44 in the first innings, it may warrant a promotion in the batting order for Adelaide.
Resuming at 4 for 88, still 120 short of going into credit, Dravid and Kohli had plenty of testing moments in the opening overs. Harris' first two deliveries of the day did everything but bowl Dravid, angling in and seaming away, while at the other end Hilfenhaus swung the ball tantalisingly away with the help of a south-westerly breeze.
Kohli was the more assured of the batting duo, collecting his runs quietly with ones and twos, reining in his most aggressive tendencies in a struggle for survival against bowling that offered precious little latitude.
Harris, in particular, posed question after question, taking advantage of a crack on a length at the Lillee-Marsh Stand end to bring the ball sharply back into Kohli and Dravid. Dravid was late to react to some subtle inswing, the ball swerving between bat and pad to send leg stump cartwheeling. Dravid shuffled off, bowled five times in six innings during the series.
Dhoni's technique has been found similarly wanting, and once again he would edge tamely into the cordon. Siddle's delivery was full, fast and swinging, and Ponting's hands at second slip were alert and safe. Nevertheless, the dismissal was another grim reflection on the batting of Dhoni, who has always struggled to replicate his subcontinental run-scoring on foreign shores.
Lunch came and went, Kohli still harbouring the desire to reach a century. But Hilfenhaus was not in a mood to countenance charity. Bashing the ball in short of a length, he had Vinay Kumar and Zaheer Khan fencing to Michael Clarke at slip in consecutive balls, and while Ishant Sharma survived the hat-trick delivery, he fended his third straight to Ed Cowan at short leg.
Umesh Yadav survived one ball to give Kohli the strike, but Siddle probed the perfect line and length once more to coax a touch behind and seal a series that has been more lopsided than anyone can have imagined.