Throwback: India’s past seven Test wins in Australia
In a brilliant comeback, the Indian cricket team led by Ajinkya Rahane registered a memorable win Down Under in Melbourne’s second Test match. The visitors were without their regular skipper and prime batsman Virat Kohli. There were neither Mohammed Shami nor Ishant Sharma to provide enough bowling options. Moreover, the captain’s responsibility was with someone who had faced criticism with batting in the previous match.
Indian cricket team had recorded their lowest Test total in Adelaide days back. In such a scenario, nobody expected them to win a match. But they came back and how! They thoroughly dominated Australia in every department and snatched a convincing win under the able leadership of Rahane.
Winning a Test match in Australia does not frequently happen for Indians. They have so far won just eight Tests Down Under, including the Melbourne Test 2020. However, the gap is decreasing nowadays.
India was yet to win a Test match in Australia since their first tour Down Under in 1948. On the other hand, the hosts were already 2-0 down when they took on the visitors in Melbourne during the 1977 tour. It was a 5-match Test series, and MCG Test was a must-win for India.
Led by Bishan Singh Bedi, Indians looked absolutely out of sync with 0/2 on board. Thankfully, the dependable middle-order somewhat stabilized the innings. Mohinder Amarnath (72), Gundappa Vishwanath (59), Ashok Mankad (44), and Dilip Vengsarkar (37) added 256, and the Indian bowling unit, led by Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, restricted Australia to just 213 runs.
Chandrasekhar scalped 6/52 runs and gave India a lead of 43 runs. Indians added 343 runs in the 2nd innings, based on a magnificent century by Sunil Gavaskar (118). With a target of 387 to win the match, Australia batters were once again confused by the spin magic of Chandrasekhar.
He ended up as the first bowler in history to record an identical figure in two innings of the same Test match- 6 wickets for 52 runs. Australia was all out for 164 runs, and India recorded their first Test win in Australia by 222 runs.
The next match in the same series in Sydney Cricket Ground was a fair chance for India to win to level the series. This would set a perfect stage for the fifth and deciding Test match in Adelaide. Australia won the toss and decided to bat first.
Thanks to the spin trio of Bishan Bedi, Chandrasekhar, and Erapalli Prasanna, Australia were bundled out for 131 runs in less than 50 overs in their first innings. Bedi took 3 wickets, and Chandrasekhar continued his good run to finish with 4 wickets in the first innings.
In reply, India’s opening duo Sunil Gavaskar (49) and Chetan Chauhan (42) added 97 runs for the first wicket.
Viswanath scored a steady 79, and after decent efforts from Vengsarkar (48), Syed Kirmani (42), and Karsan Ghavri (64), Indians declared their first innings for 396 runs. Australia had to score at least 265 to save an innings defeat, and once again, Indian spinners were back in action.
This time Prasanna was the highest wicket-taker with 4 wickets, conceding 51 runs in 29 overs that included 11 maidens. Despite a steady 68 from Gary Cosier and patient 85 from Peter Toohey, Australia were dismissed for 263 runs. India sealed their second win of the series by an innings and two runs.
In the 1981 series, after losing the first Test at Sydney in three days and managing a draw in the second one at Adelaide, Indians headed to Melbourne under immense pressure. In the must-win and final encounter, Indians were asked to bat first. The hosts had a star-studded bowling line up consisting of Dennis Lillee, Len Poscoe, and Bruce Yardley.
Expectedly Indians were all out for mere 237 runs as Lillee and Pascoe took four and three wickets, respectively. Gundappa Viswanath showed great courage and kept the fight on with a brilliant 114. A century from Allan Border and Greg Chappell (76) and Doug Walters (78) helped Australia put a mammoth 419 runs.
In the second Innings, Sunil Gavaskar and Chetan Chauhan provided a great start and added 165 runs for the first wicket before the little master got involved in a controversial fiasco. Indians ended with 324 runs, and Australia required just 143 runs for the series win on the fourth day. Kapil Dev, India’s main bowler, could not take the field due to an injury, but fortunately, Gharvi and Dillip Joshi grabbed three early wickets.
Next Morning Kapil Dev arrived! He sent back the entire middle-order Aussie batters. His devastating spell (5/28) singlehandedly ended Australian innings for just 83 runs. India won by 59 runs, and the series was drawn.
Adelaide Test in 2003 came two years after the famous 2001 Eden Test match between these two countries and bore many resemblances. After a drawn first Test in Brisbane, which was remembered for captain Ganguly’s brilliant 144, the teams met in the picturesque Adelaide Oval for the second Test.
Australia scored a massive 556 runs in the first innings, thanks to a brilliant double century from Ricky Ponting, and it looked like they could never lose from that situation. Anil Kumble toiled hard for a 5-wicket haul. It looked even more certain when India fell to 85 for 4 and lost big guns like Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, and Sourav Ganguly in quick successions.
Again, VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid started the recovery and built a legendary partnership of 303 runs. Dravid was the primary star this time with his then-highest 233, and Laxman supported with a strokeful 148. India not only saved the follow on, but they also finished only 33 runs behind Australia. In the second innings, Ajit Agarkar bowled a dream spell, and his 6 for 41 ensured that the Australians were blown away for just 196 runs.
Most notably, Ricky Ponting scored a duck in the second innings. Dravid again stole the show in the second innings. He scored 72 and also hit the winning boundary to take his team to a memorable four-wicket win.
Every Test India won in Australia had been significant for different reasons. The Perth Test in 2008 was no exception. To understand the importance of this, one must recall what had happened earlier in that series’s Sydney Test.
The New Year Test at Sydney during India’s tour in 2007-08 was one of the most controversial cricket games in recent times. It began with a heated exchange between Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds to give birth to the ‘Monkeygate’ scandal. It was then followed by the inept umpiring on the last day, which gave Australia a miraculous win but made the visitors fuming.
In the next Test in Perth, Indians were without one of their senior bowlers, Harbhajan Singh. Amid such chaotic conditions, Indians wanted to prove themselves in Australia with an inspired performance. Indians scored 330 runs, thanks to Rahul Dravid’s 93. In reply, Australians had a tough outing against Indian bowlers.
Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, and Anil Kumble took 2 wickets each as RP Singh ended with 4. In the second innings, Indians added 294 runs, and finally, Australia had a target of chasing down 413 runs to win the match. This time, Pathan troubled the Aussies with his swing and finished the match with 5 wickets. Interestingly Pathan scored 46 runs as well in the second innings.
India under the captain Virat Kohli came to Australia with lots of anticipation as Australia were slightly weakened due to the unavailability of Steve Smith and David Warner, who were serving their ban due to the ball-tampering controversy. India did not start well on day-1 and was tottering at 41 for 4 as Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Pat Cummins provided the early blows.
However, Cheteshwar Pujara scored a memorable century (123) and got support from Rohit Sharma (37), Rishabh Pant (25), and Ravichandran Ashwin (25) to took India to a respectable 250 in the first innings. Australians could score only 235 in their first innings as the four primary bowlers bowled brilliantly to share the ten wickets.
India posted 307 in their second innings as Pujara again top-scored with 71 and got good support from Ajinkya Rahane, who contributed 70. With a target of 323 to chase, the Australians fought hard.
It was a battle of nerves, which Indians finally won by just 31 runs. It was their second win in Adelaide Oval after 2003. Bumrah finished his first-ever Test in Australia with six wickets for 115 runs. Ashwin also got six wickets, whereas Mohammed Shami picked up five wickets. There were many Australians’ contributions, but no one could score more than 60 from Shaun Marsh.
After a debacle for team India in Perth, the teams met at Melbourne with a score of 1-1. Indians were still hopeful and, despite a new batting lineup, started confidently. The debutant Mayank Agarwal scored 76 and provided perfect support to Cheteshwar Pujara, who scored another century (106) against the Aussies.
There were other key contributions from Virat Kohli (82) and Rohit Sharma (63*) as they declared on 443/7 after batting nearly 170 overs. Australia did not start well and was bowled out for just 151 runs thanks to a devastating spell by Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah took six wickets for just 33 runs, which included a memorable slower ball-leg before Shaun Marsh’s wicket just before lunch on day three.
After securing a lead of 292 runs, India batted again, and despite a batting collapse, they scored 106/8 before declaring for the second time in the match. Pat Cummins finished with 6 for 27. This time Australians batted better than their first innings but could not fight as they did at Adelaide.
Despite a hard-fought 63 from Cummins, they were all out for 261 in the 90th over and handed India a win by 138 runs and a 2-1 lead in the series, god enough to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. Bumrah added three more wickets in the second innings and his 9 for 86 helped him to get the man-of-the-match award.