India win series against Australia

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The Independent Online

India secured a 2-0 series victory over Australia with a seven-wicket triumph in the second Test in Bangalore today.

Sachin Tendulkar (53 not out) took the hosts past the finishing line after having notched a double hundred in the first innings in reply to Australia's 478.

Debutant Cheteshwar Pujara also rose to the occasion, posting 72 on a testing final-day pitch to set India on course to achieve their victory target of 207.

Australia's bowlers struggled against the free-scoring India batsmen, with Nathan Hauritz managing just one second-innings wicket while rival spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha collected six wickets apiece in the match.

The defeat means Australia will head into their next Test assignment, the Ashes, ranked lower than opponents England after falling to fifth place in the ICC Test standings.

India dominated the final day completely once they bowled Australia out for 223 in the second innings and set themselves a target of 207 for victory, on the back of their slender 17-run lead in the first innings.

Zaheer Khan started the proceedings well for the tourists by adding two more wickets to his overnight scalp of Ricky Ponting, while Sreesanth got his second wicket when he bowled Ben Hilfenhaus off his pads.

In reply, India started strongly with Murali Vijay and Pujara scoring at a brisk pace and soon overcame the early loss of Virender Sehwag (seven), who was caught behind by Tim Paine off Hilfenhaus.

The pair defied the early help for Australia's bowlers and took India to 73 for two at lunch, with both batsmen unbeaten on 29.

In all, they added 72 runs in 13 overs before a bowling change after the interval did the trick for Australia as first-innings centurion Vijay, who batted confidently for his 37 off 45 balls, was trapped leg before by Watson.

Tendulkar got off the mark with a boundary and in the next over India inched past 100 with an overthrow.

Pujara brought up his maiden Test half-century soon after by pulling Watson to the mid-wicket boundary and by the 22nd over the victory target was down to 92.

Thereafter the debutant from Rajkot executed some attractive shots on both sides of the wicket. He was particularly aggressive against Hauritz, whose first three overs went for 30.

However, after making 72 from 89 balls, he was foxed by the spinner in his next over with a delivery which held its line after pitching and disturbed the off stump, bringing an end to his 57-run partnership with Tendulkar for the third wicket.

The exit of Pujara, whose innings was studded with seven fours, brought local boy Dravid to the middle. The veteran of 144 Tests played some delectable cover drives and quickly found his rhythm, after his first-innings single-digit score.

Tendulkar switched gears just before tea and hit Hauritz for two consecutive sixes over long on to bring the target down to 22 in the final session.

The duo took the team closer to the finishing line immediately after the break with some beautiful boundaries and quick singles as Tendulkar helped himself to another half-century.

Dravid remained unbeaten on 21 and together they added 61 runs in an unbroken fourth-wicket stand.