Does MCG win mean Australia are back?

Australia 333 & 240 India 282 & 169 (Australia win by 122 runs): Not quite to their previous heady heights but bowling was good start for new regime

That this was in itself a notable victory for Australia, and in particular their still formative coaching team of Mickey Arthur and Craig McDermott, is undeniable. What is more difficult to gauge, with Australia one up with three to play, is whether the outcome offers a telling indication of a team in decline being passed by one on the up; or rather that the year ends with Australia's glass half-full and India's half-empty as a result of four fluctuating days in Melbourne.

Dismissing India's garlanded top five for a total of 63 in a second-innings score of 169 after having kept them below 300 in their first innings was a triumph for a pace attack cobbled together in the wake of injury to supposed betters. Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson and the starlet Pat Cummins were all absent. Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus had both struggled against England last (Australian) summer – this marked Hilfenhaus's first return to the side since his mauling at the hands of Cook and Co – while 21-year-old James Pattinson was playing only his third Test, yet the trio stuck impeccably to the game plan set out by McDermott and received their due reward.

Hilfenhaus returned his best Test figures in the first innings, Siddle took six wickets in the match, including Sachin Tendulkar twice, and Pattinson was chosen as man of the match, already his second such award. Pattinson bowled quickly, aggressively – he worked over Tendulkar ahead of Siddle's coup de grâce – and maintained the agreed on and about off-stump line that ensured India's batsmen, whose application abroad has again been called into question, had to play.

"I wasn't even born when [Tendulkar] started playing cricket, so to go out there and bowl against him and have some success against their batsmen is just unbelievable and to get a win is even better," said Pattinson, whose efforts were applauded by his captain.

"I've got to give full credit to our bowlers," said Michael Clarke. "We all know how dangerous India's batting line-up is and for our bowlers to be able to restrict them in both innings, full credit to them. They [executed the plans] very well in this Test match. We deserve this win because of the effort and time we've put into our preparation."

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Clarke's counterpart, agreed. "You need to give the credit to the opposition bowlers because of the line and length they bowled," he said. "They bowled really well, a really good line close to that off-stump area."

McDermott, who took 291 wickets in his 71 Tests, became bowling coach in May – he saw off Allan Donald, Andy Bichel and Jason Gillespie to take over the role from Troy Cooley, who was unable to replicate the success in his native land he had enjoyed with England. There has been a marked improvement under the Queenslander's guidance, certainly since the home horror show that was the final Ashes Test when England amassed 644. In their eight Tests since Australia have dismissed opponents for less than 200 six times, and only in two innings, against Sri Lanka and South Africa, can the attack be said to have failed.

Yesterday India first struggled to rid themselves of Australia's tail, Pattinson making a career best 37, and then, chasing 292, soon slipped to 81 for 6 and were all out inside 48 overs.

"We need to apply ourselves a lot more," said Dhoni, whose side have now lost five successive Tests on their travels. They failed to make the most of clear opportunities during the game, especially when 214 for 2 in their first innings and having Australia 27 for 4 in their second innings.

The frailties of both sides were plain to see at the MCG, which hosted nearly 190,000 spectators over the four days: a shot in the arm for Test cricket. Australia may have depth to their seam attack – although it does not match the resources available to either England or South Africa – but their batting is certainly still suspect. It required the waning powers of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey to dig them out of trouble. With no Shane Watson to anchor the top of the order there is a lack of substance to the first three. The wounds of 47 all out against South Africa and 136 all out against New Zealand in the last two months remain raw.

That brittleness offers India every chance of a way back into the series but that will also require their stellar names to live up to their billing removed from home comfort zones. The two teams will toast the New Year in Sydney, where the second Test begins on Tuesday, but there cannot yet be any great cause for celebration either way.

Scoreboard from the MCG

First Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground. Australia won by 122 runs and lead four-Test series 1-0; Australia won toss

Australia: First Innings 333 (Cowan 68, Ponting 62; Khan 4-77)

India: First Innings 282 (Tendulkar 73, Dravid 68, Sehwag 67; Hilfenhaus 5-75)

Australia: Second Innings (overnight 179-8; Hussey 79*, Ponting 60; Yadav 4-49)

M E K Hussey c Dhoni b Khan 89

J L Pattinson not out 37

B W Hilfenhaus c Laxman b I Sharma 14

Extras (b5 lb2 w1 nb5) 13

Total (76.3 overs) 240

Fall (contd) 9-197.

Bowling Khan 20-4-53-3, Yadav 20-4-70-4, I Sharma 12.3-0-43-2, Ashwin 22-4-60-1, Sehwag 2-0-7-0.

India: Second Innings

G Gambhir c Ponting b Siddle 13

V Sehwag c Hussey b Hilfenhaus 7

R Dravid b Pattinson 10

S R Tendulkar c Hussey b Siddle 32

V V S Laxman c Cowan b Pattinson 1

V Kohli lbw b Hilfenhaus 0

*†M S Dhoni b Pattinson 23

R Ashwin c Cowan b Siddle 30

Z Khan c Cowan b Pattinson 13

I Sharma not out 6

U Yadav c Warner b Lyon 21

Extras (lb10 w2 nb1) 13

Total (47.5 overs) 169

Fall 1-17, 2-39, 3-58, 4-68, 5-69, 6-81, 7-117, 8-141, 9-142.

Bowling Pattinson 15-2-53-4, Hilfenhaus 18-4-39-2, Siddle 9-1-42-3, Lyon 5.5-0-25-1.

Umpires M Erasmus (SA) and I J Gould (Eng).

Remaining Tests

Second Test: Tuesday-7 January (Sydney)

Third Test: 13-17 January (Perth)

Fourth Test: 24-28 January (Adelaide)

News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness