Damien Fleming, the bowler known for accuracy and controlled pace, provided the finishing touches to Australia's huge 285-run triumph over India in the Adelaide test on Tuesday. India, chasing a victory target of 396, was driven to a hopeless situation by the close on Monday.
It was on 76 for five in 26 over. Today, the remaining wickets fell in 12.1 overs for an addition of just 34 runs. In the world of sport, the optimists always enjoy a chosen place. So, there bound to have been a host of cricket lovers who might have not ruled out India's chances of forcing an honorable draw in this match. Fleming destroyed such hopes in the fifth over of the morning. He sent back Sourav Ganguly (43) and Ajit Agarkar off successive balls.
He would have been celebrating a "hat-trick" off the next delivery. But then Shane Warne, at first slip, failed to hold a straight-forward catch offered by Javagal Srinath. Warne was seen cursing himself for having denied Fleming a chance to enter into the record book. Ganguly, the stylist, was left with the tail to play.
He did his job in a commendable fashion till he became impulsive while dealing with a short-pitched one from Fleming. He just got a snick in his attempted hook-shot, and, wicket-keeper Gilchrist dived to his right and snapped up a low catch. Off the next ball, Agarakar cut an almost yorker-length ball into the hands of gully fielder Steve Waugh. Then Warne dropped that catch off Srinath's blade. Fleming did not lose heart.
He got the wicket of M S K Prasad (102 for 8), and, after Glenn McGrath had dismissed Srinath (108 for nine), he bowled Anil Kumble to signal the end of the Indian innings (110 all out). Fleming's figures read an enviable 9.1--2-30-5. McGarth (3) and Warne (2) were the other members of this three-man demolition squad. That Australia took only 38.1 overs to bundle out India in the second knock would speak for the remarkable ability of the Australian attack to execute its plans with professional zeal.