The agony was complete

India managed something it hadn't in the first three Tests — extend the contest to the fifth day. Unfortunately that's as far as Virender Sehwag's side got. By S. Ram Mahesh.

India arrived in Adelaide to play for that elusive of emotions — pride. Having surrendered the series 0-3, the touring party needed desperately to prevent the cleansweep it had suffered in England.

India managed something it hadn't in the first three Tests — extend the contest to the fifth day. Unfortunately that's as far as Virender Sehwag's side got. (He was leading the team because M.S. Dhoni had been banned for a Test after India's slow over-rate at Perth).

Despite losing the toss, India actually began well, taking three wickets in the first session. But Ricky Ponting (221) and Clarke (210) put a stop to India's early success, wrestling control of the contest after lunch on the first day before dictating terms.

Ponting looked in the best touch of the series. Barring a hook that Umesh Yadav hurried him into, Ponting hardly erred when making an attacking stroke. The innings was the former Australian captain's fourth three-figure score in four Tests against India at the Adelaide Oval. He also passed the 13,000-run mark during it — besides him, only Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid have achieved this record. Not for the first time had an out-of-form batsman been played into touch by India's bowlers. When they first attacked him, ill-advisedly, with short balls at Melbourne, Ponting wasn't the batsman he was to become by the fourth Test.

Clarke completed a dream series, a triple-hundred in the second Test in Sydney followed by the double in Adelaide. The Australian captain played glorious strokes off his own, particularly against Ashwin.

One over drew two back-cuts, Clarke flitting back in his crease, as lightly as a thistle in a draught, to accelerate his hands through the ball, flicker-fast. The quicks weren't allowed to settle either — a punched pull off Umesh, Clarke on tiptoe, was a stroke of undeniable dominance. The 386-run partnership was the best for any wicket at the Adelaide Oval. Much like their stand had at Sydney, the alliance flattened India. The touring side just couldn't recover.

India's batting couldn't take advantage of the friendliest batting surface of the series. The only positive from two innings was a magnificent maiden Test hundred by Virat Kohli.

He had batted skilfully at Perth, looking as if he belonged on a quick, bouncy wicket first-timers usually struggle on. He proved at Adelaide that he had every chance of having a fine career. Kohli is the quintessential modern Indian batsman. In him reside both the past — the wristwork, the hands — and the present — the inclination and the ability as he showed when batting with the tail to flog an attack — but he adds to these influences the impress of his personality: feistiness, self-awareness, a rakish intelligence.

When the 23-year-old walked to the middle, Peter Siddle had just removed Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir. Kohli found in wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha, a kindred soul.

Together, the pair set about batting time, tiring Australia's seamers so they could make capital when the bowling flagged. Given the flatness of the wicket and the dry heat of Adelaide, it was sound thinking. All it needed was execution.

Kohli's batting was well organised. He also proved he has an innate understanding of the nuts and bolts of innings-building. His knock contained 32 singles and 14 twos, many of them run with Saha, who was keen to do much of the same himself. But once the pair was separated, there wasn't much else. Kohli endured drama on 99, a run-out attempt and a verbal altercation with the Australians. “I gave it back,” Kohli would say later. “It felt good to answer them verbally and make runs.”

As important as the century was in the context of India's future, as far as the series was concerned, it was too little too late. Peter Siddle won the Man of the Match award, Michael Clarke, the Man of the Series award.

The defeat left India at a delicate stage. Sehwag didn't see a big difference in the way the team has been performing, just that the “time is not good”.

“Everybody is practising hard at home, and then we came here and practised really hard,” he said. “We make our own plans, and it didn't click. It happens with every team, with every player. The time is not good for Indian team, for individuals, so maybe that's why we are not scoring runs. The moment the time changes, the next year we will see, or in the coming series, we will see our top order giving starts and middle order coming in and score big hundreds. It happens.”

Sehwag admitted India needed a review, but said it would be an individual thing, not necessarily systemic. “I haven't performed well overseas, I haven't scored a hundred overseas for the last couple of tours. I have to look at myself and see what I need to do when I go to Australia or England or South Africa or New Zealand. It's my personal thing. Nothing related with the team. We have to look at ourselves.”

THE SCORES

Australia — 1st innings: E. Cowan c Laxman b Ashwin 30; D. Warner lbw Zaheer Khan 8; S. Marsh b Ashwin 3; R. Ponting c Tendulkar b Zaheer Khan 221; M. Clarke b Yadav 210; M. Hussey (run out) 25; B. Haddin (not out) 42; P. Siddle c Saha b Ashwin 2; R. Harris (not out) 35; Extras (b3, lb17, w8) 28; Total (seven wkts. decl.) 604.

Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-31, 3-84, 4-470, 5-520, 6-530, 7-533.

India bowling: Zaheer Khan 31-4-96-2, Yadav 26-1-136-1, Ashwin 53-6-194-3, Ishant Sharma 30-6-100-0, Sehwag 16-0-55-0, Kohli 1-0-3-0.

India — 1st innings: G. Gambhir c Hussey b Siddle 34; V. Sehwag c and b Siddle 18; R. Dravid b Hilfenhaus 1; S. Tendulkar c Ponting b Siddle 25; V. V. S. Laxman c Haddin b Lyon 18; V. Kohli lbw b Hilfenhaus 116; W. Saha b Harris 35; R. Ashwin lbw Siddle 5; Zaheer Khan c Haddin b Siddle 0; Ishant Sharma b Hilfenhaus 16; U. Yadav (not out) 0; Extras: (1b, 1w, 2nb) 4; Total 272.

Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-31, 3-78, 4-87, 5-111, 6-225, 7-230, 8-230, 9-263.

Australia bowling: Ryan Harris 25-7-71-1, Ben Hilfenhaus 22.1-5-62-3, Peter Siddle 15-2-49-5, Nathan Lyon 21-5-48-1, Michael Clarke 6-1-23-0, Michael Hussey 6-0-18-0.

Australia — 2nd innings: D. Warner c and b Ashwin 28; E. Cowan lbw Ashwin 10; S. Marsh lbw Zaheer Khan 0; R. Ponting (not out) 60; M. Clarke c Saha b Yadav 37; M. Hussey lbw Ishant Sharma 15; B. Haddin (not out) 11; Extras: (6 lb) 6; Total (for five wkts. decl.) 167.

Fall of wickets: 1-39, 2-40, 3-40, 4-111, 5-147.

India bowling: Zaheer Khan 13-1-38-1, Ashwin 20-2-73-2, Ishant Sharma 8-0-27-1, Umesh Yadav 5-0-23-1.

India — 2nd innings: G. Gambhir c Haddin b Harris 3; V. Sehwag c Ponting b Lyon 62; R. Dravid c Hussey b Harris 25; S. Tendulkar c Cowan b Lyon 13; V. V. S. Laxman c Marsh b Lyon 35; V. Kohli (run out) 22; Ishant Sharma c Haddin b Harris 2; W. Saha c Haddin b Siddle 3; R. Ashwin (not out) 15; Zaheer Khan c Warner b Hilfenhaus 15; U. Yadav c Haddin b Lyon 1; Extras (lb3, w2) 5; Total 201.

Fall of wickets: 1-14, 2-80, 3-100, 4-110, 5-162, 6-166, 7-166, 8-170, 9-193.

Australia bowling: Harris 19-5-41-3, Hilfenhaus 11-2-35-1, Siddle 14-5-47-1, Lyon 21.4-4-63-4, Hussey 2-0-3-0, Clarke 2-0-9-0