India facing another series whitewash as Australian attack decimates top order
Australia continued to march towards a 4-0 series whitewash of India on day four of the fourth Test at Adelaide Oval as the tourists closed on 166 for six.
Set a record fourth-innings run chase of 500 to conjure a miracle victory, India are still 333 runs in arrears with just four wickets in hand after established pair VVS Laxman and Virat Kohli fell in the final 10 minutes.
Laxman was dropped by Ricky Ponting at a wide second slip on 25 when he played a loose drive against Ryan Harris, but his watchful vigil ended on 35 after he whipped a short Nathan Lyon offering right off the meat of the bat to Shaun Marsh, who snapped up a very sharp chance at short mid-wicket.
Skittled: Sachin Tendulkar and the rest of his India team-mates are facing up to a second series whitewash
Click here to see a breakdown of the score
Then from the final ball of the day's penultimate over, first-innings centurion Kohli (22) was brilliantly run out by his day three sparring partner Ben Hilfenhaus, whose off-balance shy at the non-striker's end from mid-wicket was a direct hit with a diving Kohli short of his ground after he scurried desperately for a single to keep the strike.
Lyon (three for 57), who sent India's acting captain Virender Sehwag (62) on his way shortly before tea with a rank full toss, was the man who broke India's hearts when he got rid of Sachin Tendulkar with a nice looping ball which the “Little Master” prodded forward defensively against.
The ball deflected from Tendulkar's glove onto his pad and bobbed up for a sitter to Ed Cowan at short leg, his departure for 13 meaning the wait for Tendulkar's 100th international century goes on.
Tendulkar was surprisingly passive and tentative against Lyon throughout his short innings and paid the ultimate price before trudging off to a standing ovation from the appreciative Adelaide crowd.
Howzat: Peter Siddle impressed with the ball
It also left Tendulkar without a ton for the series, the first time in five Test tours of Australia over two decades that he has failed to score a century.
Nightwatchman Ishant Sharma came out in the third-last over of the evening and was immediately greeted by an ultra-attacking field, with every fielder in catching positions around the bat as Lyon bowled with his tail up.
Kohli's endeavours to protect Sharma brought about the downfall of the exciting India number six.
With victory long out of the question, India's faint hopes to even escape with a draw rested with Laxman and Kohli, but a crazy final 10 minutes put an end to such dreams.
Indian legends Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, with almost 29,000 runs and 87 tons between them from a combined 352 Tests, were initially armed with that responsibility but their watchful union ended when out-of-touch Dravid (25) thick-edged a widish Ryan Harris ball to Mike Hussey at gully.
Tendulkar fell three overs later as Lyon bowled his best spell of the series, trundling in for 13 overs unchanged from the River End.
Piling them on: Michael Clarke did his bit with the bat earlier in the day
Before lunch, India lost openers Gautam Gambhir (three) and Sehwag (62) to be 92 for two at tea.
Sehwag's blazing knock included a mix of the sublime and the ridiculous, but it was never boring.
His 50 arrived off just 36 balls and included 11 boundaries – or 88% of his total score – and he had scored more than 80% of India's runs by that point.
But he threw his wicket away recklessly on 62 when he danced down the pitch to Lyon, who induced a leading edge as Sehwag tried to smash the ball into the car park.
Closing in: Australia are on the brink of securing a 4-0 series win
The shot ended Sehwag's exciting 53-ball knock, which included 12 fours – all scored on the off-side – as Ponting comfortably claimed the skied ball at short cover.
Sehwag had been looming as the danger-man to Michael Clarke's side after the Aussie skipper declared the home side's innings at 167 for five with Ponting again top-scoring, unbeaten on 60.
Clarke made 37, concluding a golden series with the bat in which he amassed 626 runs at 125.20 with a strike rate of 69.86, while Ponting's series yielded 544 runs at 108.80.