The Indian cricket team would be taking on Australia in the third Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the Sydney Cricket Ground from January 7. It will be a crucial match for both sides with the series tied at one game apiece.
The Indian cricket team does not have a great record at SCG. They have won just one of the twelve Test matches they have played at the venue, although they were denied victories on a couple of occasions by the vagaries of the weather and late resistance from the Aussies.
However, some of the most memorable knocks played by Indian batsmen in Australia have come at the iconic venue. A total of 14 centuries have been hit by Indian batsmen at the SCG.
Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman lead the pack with three tons each. Sunil Gavaskar, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Mohinder Amarnath, Ravi Shastri, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara and Rishabh Pant are the other Indian batsmen who have scored a hundred each at the venue.
With that context, let us have a look at the five highest scores by Indian batsmen at Sydney Cricket Ground.
The 5 top scores by Indian batsmen at Sydney
#5: Sunil Gavaskar - 172 runs in January 1986
The Indian captain Kapil Dev won the toss and opted to bat first in SCG in January 1986. The visitors made the best use of the batting-friendly conditions as they declared their first innings after posting a massive score of 600 for 4 on the board.
The Indian cricket team had three centurions in that innings. While Sunil Gavaskar top-scored with 172 runs, Krishnamachari Srikkanth (116) and Mohinder Amarnath (138) also slammed tons.
Gavaskar's knock came off 400 deliveries and was studded with 19 hits to the fence. His partnership with Amarnath ended when his stumps were rattled by Bob Holland.
India dismissed the Aussies for a score of 396 runs in their first innings and enforced the follow-on. But they failed to eke out a win as the hosts played out 77 overs in their second essay for a score of 119/6.
Srikkanth was named the Man of the Match for his belligerent knock that came of just 117 deliveries. But Gavaskar wrote his name into the history books for the highest score by an Indian batsman at the SCG at the time.
#4: VVS Laxman - 178 runs in January 2004
Indian captain Sourav Ganguly won the toss and elected to bat first at Sydney in January 2004. With the series level at 1-1, the Indian batsmen sent the Aussie fielders on a leather hunt as they posted a mammoth score of 705 for 7 declared.
While almost all the Indian batsmen got off to starts, only VVS Laxman (178) and Sachin Tendulkar (241*) went on to reach the three-figure mark. The duo shared a 353-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Laxman being the dominant partner.
Laxman's knock was studded with 30 sublime boundaries and came off just 298 deliveries. He was eventually cleaned up by Jason Gillespie.
The Indian cricket team did not enforce the follow-on after dismissing the hosts for a score of 474 runs in their first innings. They declared their second innings at 211/2 and left the Kangaroos a little over a day to save the Test match.
While all the Aussie top-order batsmen scored thirties and forties, Steve Waugh's 80 runs in his final knock in Test cricket and his partnership with Simon Katich (77*) saved the day for Australia.
#3: Cheteshwar Pujara - 193 runs in January 2019
The Indian captain Virat Kohli won the toss and opted to post a score on the board. The batsmen did not let him down as India declared their first innings at a monumental score of 622 for the loss of seven wickets.
Although the Indian cricket team lost KL Rahul early, Mayank Agarwal (77) and Cheteshwar Pujara (193) shared a 116-run partnership for the second wicket to ease the nerves in the dressing room. Pujara continued with the good work after Agarwal's dismissal by stitching decent partnerships with Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari and Rishabh Pant.
The India No.3 was eventually dismissed for 193 runs, caught and bowled by Nathan Lyon. This third-highest score by an Indian cricket team player at Sydney came off 373 deliveries and consisted of 22 fours.
Pant (159*) and Ravindra Jadeja (81) took the Aussie attack to the cleaners after Pujara's dismissal before Kohli declared at the fall of the latter's wicket.
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 4, 2019
Australia was bowled out for 300 runs in their first innings and was asked to follow-on. But rain washed out the final's day play to save them the blushes.
But the drawn Test match helped the Indian cricket team win the series 2-1, the first time an Asian team had done so in Australia. Cheteshwar Pujara walked home with both the Player-of-the-Match and Player-of-the-Series awards for what was his third ton of the series.
#2: Ravi Shastri - 206 runs in January 1992
Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin won the toss and opted to field first in this game. The visitors restricted the Aussies to a score of 313 runs in their first innings.
In reply, India lost the wicket of Navjot Sidhu early but Ravi Shastri stood firm at the other end and stitched useful partnerships with Sanjay Manjrekar and Dilip Vengsarkar.
Shastri was joined by Sachin Tendulkar in the middle with the scoreboard reading 201 for 4. The two Mumbaikars strung a 196-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
The lanky opener was dismissed for 206 runs, caught in the deep by Dean Jones to become Shane Warne's maiden Test victim. Shastri's knock was studded with 17 fours and a couple of sixes.
Tendulkar remained unbeaten on 148 as the Indian cricket team were bowled out for 483 runs. Faced with a first-innings deficit of 170 runs, the hosts just managed to stave off defeat courtesy Allan Border's unbeaten 53 and his seventh-wicket partnership with Merv Hughes as they ended Day 5 at a score of 173/8.
Ravi Shastri was deservedly named the Player of the Match for his double century, the first-ever by an Indian in Australia.
#1: Sachin Tendulkar - 241* runs in January 2004
The highest individual score by an Indian batsman at Sydney is the unbeaten 241-run knock played by Sachin Tendulkar in January 2004. This came in the same match as Laxman's sublime 178, the fourth-highest score by an Indian at the ground.
Tendulkar's knock is best remembered for him eschewing the cover drive and scoring most of his runs on the leg side. He had later gone on to reveal that it was not a pre-decided plan but something he decided on the field of play after observing the line of attack employed by the Aussie quicks.
On this day Sachin Tendulkar scorer 241* vs Australia and haven't played a single Cover drive... 🙏 pic.twitter.com/q8prG7qXYp
— Broken Cricket (@BrokenCricket) January 3, 2017
Tendulkar scored these 241 runs off 436 deliveries and it comprised 33 hits to the fence. With this knock, the Master Blaster surpassed Rahul Dravid's record of the highest score by an Indian batsman on Australian soil. The latter had played a match-winning 233-run knock at Adelaide earlier in the same series.
The Indian batting maestro was duly awarded the Player of the Match. Although the match and series ended in a draw, Team India came home a satisfied lot after retaining the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.