Australia will enter the Ashes series saddled with their worst Test match losing streak for 22 years after India glided to a seven-wicket victory on the final day of the second Test at Bangalore.
Not since the first three matches of the 1988-89 home series against the West Indies have Australia lost three in a row, but they have now managed to do so again by failing to crack the Indian batting on a wearing pitch.
The result had a further Ashes implication, dropping Australia down to fifth in the ICC world rankings, behind England. India maintained their comfortable hold on the No.1 ranking, a deserved accolade on the strength of a commanding fourth innings chase.
Despite the early loss of Virender Sehwag to the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus (1-27), the Indian pursuit was both nerveless and rapid, with the young duo of Cheteshwar Pujara (72) and Murali Vijay (37) wresting control.
Sachin Tendulkar (53no to follow his first innings 214) then shepherded India to a 2-0 series win alongside Rahul Dravid (21no).
Aside from the unstinting Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson (0-42) and debutant Peter George (0-29) could not find their best, while Nathan Hauritz (1-76) was attacked mercilessly.
India’s target was kept below the 216 chased so narrowly in Mohali last week by the reverse swing of Zaheer Khan (3-41) and Sreesanth (2-48), who accounted for the final three wickets on Wednesday.
Resuming at 7-202 with a lead of 185, the Australians added only a further 21 to their overnight tally as the ball swerved about treacherously.
India’s chase began with a boundary to Vijay from Hilfenhaus, and in the second over Australian hands went to heads when Mike Hussey grassed a difficult chance from Sehwag.
However the tourists have done very well to plan for Sehwag in this series, and once again he was out to a lifting delivery, this time snicking Hilfenhaus behind where Tim Paine took a sharp catch. Surprisingly the new batsman was not longtime No.3 Dravid but Pujara, who was dismissed cheaply in the first innings.
Given a chance here, he was quickly into stride, punching Johnson through the covers and then launching a murderous assault on Hauritz. His first over went for 12 runs and second for 10, as the hosts galloped to 1-73 in 12 overs by the interval – at which time Shane Warne criticised Ponting’s field settings for Hauritz via his Twitter account.
Ponting resorted to George and allrounder Shane Watson (1-20) after lunch, and had success when Vijay was lbw to the latter.
That brought Tendulkar to the crease, and he was to continue batting in the same regal manner of the first innings.
At the other end Pujara was barely troubled and it was a shock when he played down the wrong line at Hauritz and was bowled.
Dravid appeared in good touch when he walked out, and he and Tendulkar collected the final runs without any of the tension that had wracked the final moments of the epic first Test at Mohali.