Adelaide, Jan 27: India slid toward another embarrassing innings defeat as its top order capitulated again on Friday, putting Australia just four wickets away from winning the fourth test and completing a series sweep.
At stumps on the fourth day at Adelaide Oval, India had slumped to 166—6 chasing a 500—run victory target.
Australia claimed two wickets just before stumps, removing the last of the specialist batsmen, V.V.S. Laxman and first—innings century maker Virat Kohli to a brilliant run out.
Australia declared its second innings on 167—5 shortly after lunch, after having established a 332—run lead on first innings.
India's experienced batsmen could not find the balance between aggression and caution, and surrendered meekly on a wicket that was still a good one for batting.
A defeat here, its seventh in as many overseas test and most of them by big margins, will add to pressure upon Indian selectors to overhaul the veteran batting lineup.
Australia complemented its brilliant batting performance with some penetrating bowling and brilliant fielding. The superb throw by Ben Hilfenhaus to run out Virat Kohli in the penultimate over of the day was the day's stand out play.
The giant run chase began with acting captain Virender Sehwag played his usual attacking style despite his fellow opener Gautham Gambhir being dismissed early, caught behind off Ryan Harris for 3.
Sehwag struck 62 off 53 balls with 12 fours, but his aggression was also his downfall, as he top—edged a Nathan Lyon delivery to Ricky Ponting at extra cover. It was a reckless shot off a full toss the second time had fallen to the delivery in the test.
India was 92—2 at tea, and soon after, lost Rahul Dravid (25) caught by Mike Hussey at gully off a loose drive.
Sachin Tendulkar failed to score his elusive 100th international century in what is likely his last test innings in Australia. He was caught by Ed Cowan at short leg off the bowling of spinner Nathan Lyon (3—57), and was given a standing ovation on his way off the field. At age 38, it was very likely he will not play another test in Australia.
Tendulkar has now gone 22 innings without a test century his longest spell without a test hundred in his 188—test career. He scored his last and 51st test century against South Africa at Newlands, Cape Town in January 2011.
Tendulkar has managed 287 runs (average 35.87) including two half centuries in this series.
Earlier, Ponting continued on from his first innings 221 by top scoring with an unbeaten 60. He gave a chance when on 45, but Dravid failed to latch on to a miscued pull at square leg.
Ponting has revived his test career with a series aggregate of 544 runs at an average of 108.80. It is the fifth time he has amassed over 500 runs in a test series, which puts him only behind Bradman's record seven for Australia. Ponting's previous efforts were the 706 v India in 2003/04, 576 vs. England in 2006/07, 515 vs. South Africa in 2005/06, and 523 vs. West Indies in 2002/03. West Indian batting star Brian Lara is the only non Australian to achieve this feat, and is level with Bradman on seven.
Ponting has now scored 13,200 runs (53.44) with 41 hundreds. Only Tendulkar (15,470 at 55.44) and Dravid (13,288 at 52.31) are above him in career runs.
Ponting and captain Michael Clarke hit the home side out of a spot of trouble at 40—3, and ensured the game was beyond India's grasp.
Clarke (37) was trapped lbw by swing bowler Umesh Yadav, and finished his first home series as captain with 626 runs (average 125.20). His series aggregate is the third highest for Australia against India behind Bradman's 715 runs in five tests in 1947/48, and Ponting's 706 in fours tests in 2003/04 all in Australia.
From the outset, history was against an Indian victory here, with the most successful fourth innings run—chase at the Adelaide Oval belonging to Joe Darling's Australians when they chased 315 and won by four wickets against Archie MacLaren's Englishmen, 110 years ago.Australia won the first test in Melbourne by 122 runs and followed it up with an innings and 68—run win in the second test in Sydney. In Perth in the third test, Australia took just under 2 1/2 days to win by an innings and 23 runs.