VVS Laxman’s love affair with the Aussies continued and despite a back spasm, the wristy right hander yet again conquered them with a match winning knock! India were down and buried at 124 for 8 with as many as 92 runs to get with just a free stroking VVS Laxman offering any semblance of hope. Miracuolusly, Laxman found able assistance from the studious Ishant Sharma to pull off a spirited 81-run partnership for the 9th wicket which was broken only by a rank bad lbw decision from Ian Gould. However, India managed to pull off a one-wicket win with VVS Laxman still undefeated at one end and thus the hosts retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with an unassaiable Series lead of 1-0.
The fifth day was all set for a nervous finish with India needing 161 runs and Aussies requiring six wickets. The visitors got one of the six wickets after 26 minutes of play when night watchman Zaheer Khan (10 from 34 balls) dabbed a straighter one from Nathan Hauritz to slip. The score was 76 for 5 when the composed VVS Laxman joined the maestro Sachin Tendulkar. The pair were helped with some poor bowling from Nathan Hauritz who was no Shane Warne to keep on bowling the right lengths ball after ball! In just six overs, Laxman and Sachin knocked off 43 runs from the target!
India was running away with the target through the sixth wicket partnership but a misjudgement from Sachin Tendulkar in the 30th over brought Aussies back in the hunt. It was a rising delivery from Bollinger and Tendulkar initially thought of swaying away but changed his mind to play an upper cut! Bollinger got the ball to come back sharply and cramp up Tendulkar (38 from 64 balls with 5 fours) for room and the result was a sharp catch taken at gully by Hussey. India were now at 119 for 6.
There was further trouble in store for India when MS Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh got out in quick succession. Dhoni was a victim of the huge confusion caused by the runner for VVS Laxman – Suresh Raina who was out of his vision running from squareleg. Dhoni got run out after a mix up with Laxman driving one straight and the Indian Captain initially looking to get back to the bowling end and then looking up to the striker rather than Raina. Eventually Dhoni had to run after shockingly seeing Raina run for a single and there was a run out at the batting end with Hifenhaus firing a direct throw.
Harbhajan Singh, the next man in, had a double failure with the bat and was sent back without a fuss by a well directed rising delivery from Bollinger and India with that lost all their chances of a victory at 124 for 8! However, Laxman perhaps had tremendous self belief and Ishant showed perfect discipline sticking to the simple basics of leaving outside off and using his tall height to either get forward or back to defend solidly.
Both Laxman and Ishant carried India to 162 for 8 in 42 overs at lunch with 54 more runs to win. That was still enough runs for the Aussies to defend and they woul have started to feel the heat once it wasa reduced to less than 30! And it happened when Ishant Sharma managed a couple of well controlled edges through gully for precious boundaries. India finally looked to be cruising through yet again before Ishant Sharma after a 92-ball 31 (with 5 fours) got a poor lbw decision.
But Ishant’s bad decision was neutralized and India had no chance to complain as last man Pragyan Ojha had a fluke escape when he was given not out despite being plumb infront to Mitchell Johnson with 6 runs to win. Instead India got four runs (with Bowden thinking that there was an inside edge onto the pad for Ojha) through over throws with substitue fielder Steven Smith going for a run out. A couple of balls after that it was all over for India with Ojha deflecting Johnson off his pads to fine leg for two leg byes to finish the match. Pragyan Ojha survived 19 balls to help Laxman steer India to one of its greatest ever wins in Test Cricket History!
Zaheer Khan got the Man of the Match for bowling India back in the match during the Aussie first innings and in the second innings wiping out the tail.