MELBOURNE, Dec 29 (PTI): India�s famed batting line-up produced yet another spineless display to crash to an embarrassing 122-run defeat in the first cricket Test and hand Australia a 1-0 lead in the four-match Test series here today.
Chasing a target of 292 in the second innings, India�s top-order collapsed like a proverbial house of cards against the pace trio of James Pattinson (4/53), Peter Siddle (3/42) and Ben Hilfenhaus (2/39) to be bundled out for a paltry 169 in 47.5 overs on the final session of the penultimate day.
India were always up against history as no side since 1963 has made more than 250 runs in the fourth innings at MCG to win a Test match.
Sachin Tendulkar promised some ray of hope during his little cameo of 32 runs, but the rest of the toporder batsmen cut a sorry figure against the Australian quicks and at one stage the tourists had lost four wickets for just 22 runs.
Openers Virender Sehwag (7) and Gautam Gambhir (13) and the senior trio of Rahul Dravid (10), Tendulkar and VVS Laxman (1) all failed to save the day for India and departed inside the 90-run mark.
Young Virat Kohli (0) suffered his second failure of the match and made matters worse by showing his displeasure at a plumb leg before decision.
Ravichandran Ashwin (30) rode his luck for a while and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (23) was street-smart during his stay, but the task proved to be too tall for them to achieve once the top-order departed early.
Sehwag and Gambhir fell on either side of lunch. The dangerous right-hander was caught by Michael Hussey at gully as he went for ferocious cut off Ben Hilfenhaus, while his left-handed partner jabbed at a lifting Peter Siddle delivery to be caught in the second slip by Ricky Ponting.
Tendulkar, who once again entered the ground to a standing ovation, came and drove his first ball into covers for three runs to convey his intentions clear.
An on-drive, with virtually the full face of the bat, by Tendulkar brought up the 50 of Indian innings. Dravid was sedate but solid at the other end, yet Pattinson was able to create a huge gap between his bat and pad to knock back his middle stump. The right-hander hit one four during his 29-ball stay. Dravid�s exit opened the floodgates for Australia.
Laxman took his first run off the seventh ball he faced but then flicked Pattinson into the hands of Ed Cowan at square leg to make it four down for 68 runs.
Kohli fell off the first delivery he faced, LBW to Hilfenhaus. But the biggest blow came soon thereafter when Tendulkar drove a swinging delivery from Siddle straight to Hussey at gully.
Tendulkar batted for 73 minutes and faced 46 balls. He hit four fours before disappearing into the MCG tunnel amidst a standing sendoff, possibly for the last time.
Dhoni, who has a poor batting record in Australia with an average of 17.00 and a highest score of 38, chose attack as the best defence and decided to take matter into his hands by slamming Hilfenhaus over wide long on for a six.
Ashwin rode his luck well, inside and outside edging boundaries behind square but ended the post lunch session with a brilliant straight drive off Siddle.
The off-spinner, though, departed immediately after tea when he fended off a rising delivery from Siddle, only to lob it up for Ed Cowan at forward short leg.
Pattinson adopted intimidatory tactics against Zaheer Khan and at one stage hurled three short deliveries at the tailender to earn a warning from umpire Ian Gould.
Zaheer then made room to square cut Pattinson to the point boundary and in the next ball lofted a straight six off over the longon. However, Pattinson got his revenge in the very next delivery when Zaheer gave simple catch to Cowan at short leg to give the young Aussie pacer his third wicket of the day. Pattinson claimed his fourth victim when Dhoni inside edged a delivery on to his stumps to more or less surrender the match to Australia.
Last man Umesh Yadav (21) managed some lusty hits against off-spinner Nathan Lyon before holing out to David Warner, who took a brilliant running catch at long on.
Earlier Australia, resuming at 179 for eight, stretched their innings to 240 before being bowled out just 42 minutes prior to lunch.
Australia 1st innings: 333
India 1st innings: 282
Australia 2nd innings (Overnight 179 for 8): David Warner b Yadav 5, Ed Cowan lbw b Yadav 8, Shaun Marsh b Yadav 3, Ricky Ponting c Sehwag b Khan 60, Michael Clarke b Sharma 1, Michael Hussey c Dhoni b Khan 89, Brad Haddin c Laxman b Khan 6, Peter Siddle c Dhoni b Yadav 4, Nathan Lyon lbw b Ashwin 0, James Pattinson not out 37, Ben Hilfenhaus c Laxman b Sharma 14. Extras: (B-5, LB-2, W-1, NB-5) 13. Total: (all out in 76.3 overs) 240. Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-16, 3-24, 4-27, 5-142, 6-148, 7-163, 8-166, 9-197, 10-240. Bowling: Zaheer Khan 20-4-53-3, Umesh Yadav 20-4-70-4, Ishant Sharma 11-0-43-2, Ravichandran Ashwin 22-4-60-1, Virender Sehwag 2-0-7-0.
India 2nd innings: Gautam Gambhir c Ponting b Siddle 13, Virender Sehwag c Hussey b Hilfenhaus 7, Rahul Dravid b Pattinson 10, Sachin Tendulkar c Hussey b Siddle 32, VVS Laxman c Cowan b Pattinson 1, Virat Kohli lbw b Hilfenhaus 0, MS Dhoni b Pattinson 23, R Ashwin c Cowan b Siddle 30, Zaheer Khan c Cowan b Pattinson 13, Ishant Sharma not out 6, Umesh Yadav c Warner b Lyon 21. Extras: (LB-10, WD-2, NB-1) 13. Total: (all out in 47.5 overs) 169. Fall of wickets: 1-17, 2-39, 3-58, 4-68, 5-69, 6-81, 7-117, 8-141, 9-142. Bowling: James Pattinson 15-2-53-4, Ben Hilfenhaus 18-4-39-2, Peter Siddle 9-1-42-3, Nathan Lyon 5.5-0-25-1.