BRISBANE: – Mitchell Johnson skittled India’s top order with a devastating spell as the tourists lurched towards a likely fourth-day defeat in the second Gabba Test on Saturday.
The ICC Cricketer of the Year snared three for 10 in a hostile 11-ball spell to rattle through India’s top order and place the Australians firmly in the box seat for a two-nil series lead.
Nothing went right for the tourists on the fourth morning with opener Shikhar Dhawan retiring hurt on his overnight score of 26 after being struck on the wrist in the practice nets before play.
Johnson then ripped through the top order, removing Virat Kohli (1), Ajinkya Rahane (10) and Rohit Sharma (0) in the space of 11 balls.
Fellow pacemen Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc compounded India’s woes with the wickets of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (0) and Ravichandran Ashwin (19) to have the tourists hanging on.
Cheteshwar Pujara was out just before lunch, caught off a short ball by Nathan Lyon off Hazlewood for 43 off 93 balls.
At lunch, India were 157 for seven with Dhawan returning to bat on 41 and Umesh Yadav not out seven to lead by 60 runs overall.
Dhawan passed up having a scan and bravely returned to the crease to help his ailing side avoid further damage.
Johnson produced his most hostile spell of the series, bowling Adelaide Test twin centurion Kohli for one off an inside edge with the first ball of his 10th over.
Kohli lingered on the ground waiting in the hope of being recalled for a front-foot no-ball but replays showed the back of Johnson’s heel was behind the line and the Indian batsman was on his way.
Rahane followed two overs later on Johnson’s third delivery with a vicious throat ball that Rahane could only fend away to Lyon at backward point for 10.
Rohit Sharma only lasted two balls when Johnson got a bit of extra movement and bounce for an edge to Brad Haddin for a duck.
Hazlewood followed up three balls later to remove the India skipper Dhoni leg before wicket for a two-ball duck.
India had lost four wickets for 11 in the space of 3.1 overs to undermine their hopes of winning for the first time at the Gabba.
Ashwin was given out caught behind off Starc even though replays showed the ball flicking the top of his pads.
With India refusing the use the decision referral system in the series Ashwin had no recourse and was on his way for 19.
The India team said it had been asking for fresh net practice wickets for two days instead of using worn out wickets that had uneven bounce and caused two of their batsmen to be injured on the fourth morning.
Kohli was also struck on his left forearm, team officials said.
“Shikar Dhawan had a right wrist injury. Because of that he was unable to bat in the morning. He was examined by our physio to assess his fitness,” the spokesman said.