The contest between India and Australia, in recent times, has become a new big rivalry in world cricket. Even though India has struggled overseas for a number of years, the team’s record down under is much better than other places.
`Recently India beat the Aussies by eight wickets in the boxing day Test and drew the ongoing series 1-1. As the team under Ajinkya Rahane’s leadership prepares for the third Test in Sydney starting on January 7, let us look back at some of the memorable wins for the Indian team in Australia over the years.
Things got really sore during the 2007-08 India’s tour to Australia. After the controversial Sydney test which was plagued with umpiring errors and the infamous Harbhajan-Symonds duel, the Anil Kumble-led team had once considered walking out of the tour. Nevertheless, India went into this Test with a scoreline of 2-0 and the series on the line. Fifties from Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar helped the visitors post a decent enough 330. The hosts were put on backfoot by brilliant spells from Irfan Pathan in both the innings. VVS Laxman’s gritty fifty in the second innings helped his team to build on their 100-plus run lead. And the collective performance from the bowlers helped India become the first Asian and only team to win a Test at the WACA, which was at the time known as the fastest pitch in the world.
Virat Kohli’s team arrived at the shores of Australia in 2018, with high hopes of becoming the first Asian team to win a series down under. However, before lunch on day one, India had lost four wickets and things got worse. On the back of a fighting century from Chesteshwar Pujara, India reached a decent total of 250. What followed was a gripping Test match with the tide swinging in either direction several times. Eventually, India was just little too good in bowling out the Aussies to scripting a famous 31 win victory. The win laid the foundation for what turned out to be a historic 2-1 series win.
When a team is 182 runs behind after the completion of the first innings, not a lot of fans would predict that team to win. However, under the captaincy of Sunil Gavaskar, India did exactly that at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This match also saw the infamous walking off of Gavaskar trying to call off India’s innings, only for the team manager to step in and stop it.
India was defending a low score of 143 runs on a day five pitch. Kapil Dev turned up and showcased his magic with a brilliant fifer to bowl the Kangaroos out for just 83.
In Test cricket, if a team manages a score well above 500 in the first innings, the chance of that team losing the match reduces significantly. However, in the summer of 2003-04, Australia scrambled to a four-wicket defeat after scoring 556. Dravid’s double century with another fifty in the second innings secured India a famous win, their first in Australia in 22 years.
The match actually turned towards India after Ajit Agarkar bowled a superb spell in the second innings, in which he took six wickets. It was only fitting that both Dravid and Agarkar were at the crease when India sealed the victory.
The Boxing day Test of 2020-21 will be remembered as India’s one of the finest wins. After being bowled out for 36, their lowest ever total, in the first Test, it was not sure whether the visitors had buried the demons of Adelaide. If there was any doubt, Ajinkya Rahane’s team assured that they had indeed risen above from that defeat.
India held their fort in each session of this match and won it convincingly at the end. From here on, the visitors can only hope for better results with star opener Rohit Sharma possibly returning to the XI.