Zaheer Khan wreaked havoc as India punctured Australia’s aura of invincibility by inflicting a crushing 320-run defeat on the visitors with more than two sessions to spare in the second cricket Test in Mohali on Tuesday.

With Zaheer breathing fire, India took just one-and-half hours and 18.4 overs to complete the formality and Australia, thoroughly bruised and battered, were subjected to one of their worst defeats in recent past as India went 1-0 up in the four-match series.

Australia needed well nigh a miracle to chase down the monumental 516-run target for an improbable win and with the top order blown away cheaply, their pursuit looked doomed right at the outset.

It was too much to expect the lower middle order batsmen and tail-enders to do what their front-line willow-wielders could not and Australia eventually folded for 195.

Zaheer’s triple strikes in the first hour maimed Australia and since then, their collapse was just a matter of time and formality, which was completed in due course.

This was India’s biggest win against the Aussies, eclipsing the 222-run victory that came in Melbourne in 1977. Michael Clarke (69) was the only face of Australian resistance in the face of some inspiring Indian bowling but his knock didn’t go beyond boosting his personal tally.

Clarke’s 152-ball knock included nine hits to the fence. With five wickets separating India from a win at the end of the fourth day, the dice was indeed loaded too heavily against Australia and whatever hopes they had of saving the Test went up in smoke when Zaheer crashed through Brad Haddin’s (37) defence in the first over of the day.

Zaheer has been tormenting Australia since they landed in India and the persecution was far from over as the left-arm seamer came to singe them with a superlative show of fast bowling in his second over.

Cameron White (1) had barely survived the first ball he faced from Zaheer which angled across to beat his tentative blade but his luck ran out soon and the Australian edged the next delivery for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to pouch a smart catch diving to his right.

Brett Lee was next in the line of fire and he could only grope in thin air as Zaheer landed one just short of length and pegged back his off-stump, putting himself on a hat-trick.

Four fielders were soon manning the slip cordon and a few more hung around the blade but Mitchell Johnson’s (26) straight bat denied Zaheer his hat-trick even if the left-arm seamer’s spell was no less spectacular.

Johnson showed the grit that some of his illustrious batting colleagues lacked and the left-hander decided to lend a helping hand to Clarke who was waging a grim battle at the other end.

They put together a 50-run stand for the ninth wicket to thwart the Indians for a while but that was just an effort to delay the inevitable till Amit Mishra struck.

Johnson could not read Mishra’s flighted delivery and the leading edge resulted into a simple caught-and-bowled dismissal giving the bowler his sixth wicket of the match.

Running out of partners and patience wearing thin, Clarke pulled Amit Mishra in the leggie’s next over and Virender Sehwag took a smart catch at mid-off to drop curtains on Australia’s second innings.


The West Indies will host the World Twenty20 Championship in 2010, the International Cricket Council (ICC) announced in Mohali on Saturday.

The event will be held in place of the Champions Trophy that was to be hosted by West Indies in 2010, ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said at a press conference.

“With the Champions Trophy set to be hosted by Pakistan in 2009 after its cancellation this year, we decided to have a Twenty20 World Championship instead in April-May 2010 in West Indies,” he said.

“Although World Twenty20 is to be held every second year, we decided to hold it on the trot to set the calendar right and ensure a better spread of tournaments.”

The event, slated to be held from April 23 to May 9, will be staged at three venues to be chosen by the ICC Board in January 2009 following nominations from the West Indies Cricket Board.

“With the ICC Champions Trophy being the final major ICC event of 2009, and the ICC Cricket World Cup being the 50 over event in 2011, it makes perfect sense to have a tournament of a different format in between,” Lorgat said.

“It means we will avoid staging the ICC Champions Trophy and the ICC Cricket World Cup close together, as happened in 2002-03 and 2006-07.

“We will aim to make both those events special to ensure we have a great blend of the ICC’s three majors, with two ICC World Twenty20s (2009 in England and 2010 in the West Indies) as well as an the ICC Champions Trophy (in 2009) and an ICC Cricket World Cup (in 2011) over the next three years.”

India won the inaugural World Twenty20 Championship in South Africa in 2007.

Batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar will be available for India’s upcoming Test series against Australia despite racing against time to be fit, an official said on Monday.

Tendulkar, 35, opted out of a five-day trial match starting in Vadodara on Wednesday after being advised to take a week’s rest to recover from an elbow injury sustained during the recent Sri Lanka tour.

The news sent shockwaves across India, but cricket board secretary Niranjan Shah denied media reports that Tendulkar could miss the four-Test series against the world champions starting on October 9.

“The physiotherapist wants him to take another week off as a precautionary measure, but he will certainly be available for the Test matches,” Shah said.

Tendulkar will be replaced by Subramaniam Badrinath in the India squad that takes on Ranji Trophy champions Delhi in the five-day Irani Cup match in Vadodara.

The Indian squad for the first Test in Bangalore will be named after the match.

Tendulkar, a veteran of 150 Tests, needs 77 runs to overtake retired West Indian Brian Lara’s record tally of 11,953 runs and become Test cricket’s highest run-getter.

The Indian already has a record 39 Test and 42 One-day centuries and is also the world’s leading ODI batsman with 16,361 runs from 417 matches.

Tendulkar is hoping to make amends for a poor series in Sri Lanka, where his highest score was 31 in three Tests which the hosts won 2-1.

The world’s most senior cricketer, who made his Test debut in 1989, has been plagued by a spate of injuries in recent times and underwent corrective surgery on his left elbow in 2005.

Tendulkar injured the elbow again while attempting to take a catch in the third Test in Sri Lanka in August and missed the subsequent ODI series.