India put Australian team out of their misery

Australia's worst series in more than 30 years is complete after India finished off a 4-0 rout in a dramatic conclusion to the fourth Test, in which Nathan Lyon starred with a bag of nine wickets.

The hosts chased down a victory target of 155 on Sunday afternoon, triumphing by six wickets to consign the visitors to the only mercy dealt out here since the series began five weeks ago - an early flight home.

Not since the summer of 1978-79 had an Australian team been thrashed by such a margin and Graham Yallop's side was beaten 5-1 by England in the middle of the World Series Cricket era - when many of the country's best players were banned.

If the present line-up thought the threat of Delhi belly would be their greatest danger on this tour, they were sorely mistaken. A 4-0 hammering is the first time since Allan Border's team were flogged by Pakistan that Australia have been whitewashed in a series of three or more Tests, and the first 4-0 defeat since Bill Lawry's men were annihilated by South Africa in 1969-70.

To add salt to the wound, they are also the worst-performing Australian team to ever tour the subcontinent. India, in their 80 years and 70 series of Tests, had never before won four matches in a series, securing the ultimate revenge for their own 4-0 defeat in Australia two summers ago.

The tumultuous campaign leaves Australia's preparations for the Ashes, which begin at Trent Bridge on July 10, in disarray.

The defeat in Delhi was at least the tourists' best performance of the series. The pitch at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium was prepared for a good time, not a long time, so the match was never likely to go much further than the three days that it did.

However, once again Australia's top order let it down, this time when there was a scent of what would have been a morale-boosting victory.

Australia, led by stand-in captain Shane Watson, crashed to 5-53 on Sunday before Peter Siddle (50), top-scoring for the second innings in a row and becoming the first No. 9 ever to score two fifties in a Test, drove their total to 164.

Conditions had appeared so treacherous for Australia's batsmen that the tourists' lead, 154, appeared highly competitive. Australia had lasted for less than three hours, and only 46.3 overs.

However, India largely blew that theory out of the water, aside from some tense moments in the final hour. Lyon, who completed career-best figures of 7-94 in the morning, added two more to his tally, including the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar for the fourth time in his career, a record for an Australian spinner.

There was drama in the afternoon, as Glenn Maxwell also picked up a couple of wickets and India lost 3-5 to fall to 4-128.However, Lyon's brilliant performance was unfortunately not rewarded as Cheteshwar Pujara (82 not out) and MS Dhoni (12 not out) completed the win late in the day before a delirious crowd.

Dhoni's slog over midwicket fittingly finished it off.

Sydney Morning Herald