It is the dropped catch of Steve Smith that hurt Australia the most, after which Cheteshwar Pujara’s 92 runs got India home

Bengaluru, March 7: Star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin led with a six-wicket haul as India defeated Australia by 75 runs with a day to spare in the second cricket Test at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Tuesday.

Chasing a target of 188 runs, Australia were all out for 112 in their second innings shortly after tea on the penultimate day.

India has now levelled the four-Test series at 1-1.

The Indians bowled superbly on a pitch which has developed quite a few cracks, making it difficult for batting.

Ashwin did the most damage with figures of 6/41. Fast bowler Umesh Yadav displayed excellent speed and swing to return 2/30 while fellow pacer Ishant Sharma and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja bagged a wicket each.

Steve Smith led Australians found it difficult to score against Jadeja who gave away only three runs in his eight overs which included five maidens.

But Ashwin is now the most successful bowler in the 2016-17 season with 89 wickets. He is the fastest ever to reach 25 five-wicket hauls, achieving the feat in 88 innings ahead of Sri Lankan great Mutthiah Muralithaaran (100) and legendary New Zealand fast bowler Richard Hadlee (111).

The Chennai spinner is also the fastest Indian bowler to take 200 Test wickets in India, reaching the landmark in 30 Test matches.

He has gone past Bishen Singh Bedi to be fifth on the list of highest wicket takers for India with 269 scalps, behind Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.

“It was not coming out of the hand all right. I was trying to turn it too hard. One good thing I did was when wickets were not coming, I kept the runs down,” Ashwin said after the match.

“We just spoke in the dressing room to bowl some short spells and keep changing over. That is why we were rotating so we could attack through such short balls.”

Indian opener Lokesh Rahul was declared Man of the Match.

Having dismissed the hosts for 274 in their second innings, the visitors ran into trouble early in their second essay as young opener Matt Renshaw was caught behind off Ishant’s bowling.

Ashwin trapped the other opener David Warner leg before Umesh was rewarded for his excellent bowling with the wickets of Australian captain Steven Smith and Shaun Marsh.

That put the pressure on the visitors and Ashwin rammed home the advantage by sending back Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade in quick succession.

The Australian batting disintegrated quickly after tea, as they lost their remaining four wickets in just under eight overs.

Ashwin bowled Mitchell Starc with one that did not turn too much after pitching before Jadeja got rid of Steve O’Keefe.

Peter Handscomb, the last recognised batsman, virtually handed his wicket to Ashwin while attepting a slog before the off-spinner pulled off a caught and bowled attempt just two balls later to dismiss Nathan Lyon and complete the win.

The visitors lost their last six wickets for just 11 runs, which is their joint third biggest six-wicket collapse. It was also their joint second biggest collapse against India.

Earlier during the morning session, Josh Hazlewood clinched a six-wicket haul as India were dismissed for 274 runs in their second innings.

Hazlewood had figures of 6/74 while fellow pacer Mitchell Starc and spinner Steve O’Keefe took two wickets each.

Hazlewood’s figures were the best in his career so far and the best bowling figures by an Australian pacer since Geoff Dymock took 7/67 in Kanpur in 1979.

Josh Hazlewood rattled India with a six-wicket haul ©BCCI
Josh Hazlewood rattled India with a six-wicket haul ©BCCI

For India, Cheteshwar Pujara top scored with 92.

The introduction of the second new ball saw a dramatic change in fortunes for Australia as Hazlewood and Starc produced a devastating spell which saw five wickets fall in 19 balls.

Rahane was the first to go, almost immediately after his half-century. The Mumbai batsman fell to an astute call by Australian skipper Steven Smith who decided to call for the review after the umpire had given a not out decision to a loud lbw appeal from Starc.

Smith stood vindicated as the third umpire reversed the on-field official’s decision and sent Rahane on his way.

Starc struck again with his very next ball, uprooting Karun Nair’s middle stump with a fast inswinger to send the batsman back to the pavilion with a golden duck.

Wriddhiman Saha walked in to deny Starc his hattrick with an inside edge on to his pads even as the Australians came up with another loud appeal for lbw.

There was more trouble in store for the hosts in the next over. Pujara fell in the 90s for the first time in his career when some extra bounce from a Hazlewwood delivery took the shoulder of his bat for a simple catch to Mitchell Marsh at gully.

Ravichandran Ashwin was dismissed only a couple of balls later when a Hazlewood delivery came in sharply after pitching outside the off stump and beat the outside edge of an attempted drive before crashing into the stumps.

Hazlewood completed his six-wicket haul in his next over when Umesh Yadav lofted one to David Warner at mid-off.

Saha and Ishant Sharma then came up with a late partnership to push the hosts’ lead to 187.

Australia had a surprising 333-run win in the first test Pune and had the upper hand in the second test, despite losing the toss. They bowled India out for 189 on the opening day at Bangalore, but that finally was of no avail.

Steve Smith takes a flying catch to dismiss India's Lokesh Rahul. @Fox Sports
Steve Smith takes a flying catch to dismiss India’s Lokesh Rahul @Fox Sports

Steve Smith’s screamer – a flying one-handed catch was the only highlight of the day that saw India fight back in their second innings against Australia, with a lead of 126 runs.

Steve Smith made a brilliant one-handed grab diving full stretch to his right, to dismiss Lokesh Rahul off Steve O’Keefe’s bowling.

“That’s one of the best catches I’ve ever seen live,” Brett Lee, who had a 21-year career at the top levels, said on Star Sports.

But the catch that Steve Smith could not take hurt Australia’s chances to claim a victory in the second Test and Australians paid a heavy price.

Raj Kumar

feature image: Captain Steve Smith celebrates after Pujara dismissal on the fourth day of the 2nd Test in Bangalore @AP – Aijaz Rahi

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