Melbourne, December 29:

Australia inflicted one of India’s heaviest Test defeats on Saturday, winning the opening match of the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy series by 337 runs on the fourth day at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

India, set a historic 499 runs to win, fell away late in the day to go down to one of their heaviest defeats. Only their 342-run loss to Australia in Nagpur in 2004-05 and 341-run defeat to Pakistan in Karachi a year later rank worse.

The Indians unravelled after tea, losing five wickets for 27, with left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson taking 3-21. Once Australia dismissed Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman in the middle session, the end was inevitable. Brett Lee dismissed Tendulkar (15). Laxman (42) battled for almost three hours and 112 balls before he perished.

Yuvraj Singh lasted just 16 minutes before he was bamboozled by wrist-spinner Brad Hogg’s flipper and was leg before wicket.

Mahendra Dhoni (11) was the first to go after tea, caught by Gilchrist off Johnson. But it was skipper Anil Kumble’s dismissal for eight, also caught behind off Johnson, that triggered three wickets in four balls to hasten India’s defeat. Harbhajan Singh was run out for a duck by Mike Hussey, Sourav Ganguly (40) fell next ball, LBW to Brad Hogg and RP Singh (two) was last man out, playing on to his stumps off Johnson.

Andrew Symonds grabbed Dravid’s wicket before lunch, trapping him LBW for 16. Dravid, who scored five off 66 balls in the first innings, again stonewalled the Australian bowlers, facing 114 balls in 150 minutes with two fours.

Gilchrist overtook Ian Healy as the Australian wicketkeeper with the most dismissals after catching opener Wasim Jaffer (15) off Lee. The regulation catch was Gilchrist’s 396th dismissal in his 93rd Test, passing his predecessor Healy’s 395 from 119 Tests. He now has 399 dismissals. South Africa’s Mark Boucher, currently playing in the first Test against the West Indies in Port Elizabeth, holds the wicketkeeping record with 406 dismissals.