Five most inspiring Indian performances in Australia

Omkar Mankame

Five miraculous performances by the Indians on the Australian in Tests over the years

Two nations for whom Cricket is not just a sport now confront each other. India-Australia is a rivalry that is keenly anticipated by cricket fans all around the globe. The Border-Gavaskar Trophy over the years has produced some of the greatest moments in cricket for both the teams. The first Test of the 2018-19 tour begins on 6th December at the scenic Adelaide Oval.

Virat Kohli and men seek India's first series win in Australia

As India embarks on its 12th expedition to Australia, it is worth remembering that no Asian side has yet won a Test series on the Australian soil. The Indian team has extracted two drawn series but is yet return from Australia with a winning smile. The hopes will be high this time as the opposition is missing its two supreme batsmen, but it will be foolish to take them lightly.

Although India has never secured a series win in Australia, they have time and again delivered cricketing masterpieces. Performing extraordinarily on the most challenging stage has earned a place in the Pantheon for many Indian legends. It is difficult to select only five, but these are the five most inspiring performances by Indians on the Australian soil.

#5 Vijay Hazare’s twin centuries at Adelaide Oval (1947-48)

India’s tour to Australia in 1948 was the first away tour undertaken by the independent Indian nation. It was also the first confrontation between India and Australia. Lala Amarnath’s team was battered by Don Bradman’s invincibles from the start, and the visiting side trailed 0-2 by the time they arrived for the fourth Test at Adelaide Oval.

Australia won the toss and chose to bat first. Don Bradman’s customary double century, Lindsay Hassett’s 198 and Sid Barnes’ 112 helped the home team inflicting the agony of 674 runs against the Indian team. Hazare made his impact in the first inning itself as he bowled the greatest batsman ever, Don Bradman, for 201 runs.

Chasing the mountain of runs, India found itself placed precariously at 133/5. Vijay Hazare gained an able support in the all-rounder Dattu Phadkar and the duo stitched 188-run partnership for the sixth wicket. Hazare scored 116 while Phadkar fell for 123. India was all out for 374 and was asked to follow-on.

Hazare had to walk out immediately to India’s rescue as the team faltered to 0/2. Garnering support from every possible partner, Hazare played a stupendous knock of 145 against the fiery Australian bowling attack that included Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller. India did lose the Test by an innings and 16 runs but Hazare’s effort evoked praises from Australian media and the Don himself. It was also the first instance of an Indian batsman scoring centuries in both innings of a Test match.

#4 Kapil Dev’s heroic 5/28 to defeat Australia at Melbourne (1980-81)

Kapil Dev

By 1979, the Packer crisis was over and when India toured Australia in 1980-81, Australia was back to its full-strength side. India captained by Sunil Gavaskar was blown away in the first Test at Sydney, and they managed to hold on to a draw by just two wickets at Adelaide.

Australia led by 1-0 and had no intentions of surrendering the lead in the third and the final Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground. After India’s first inning score of 237 propelled by Gundappa Vishwanath’s century, Australia notched up 419 runs, therefore, securing the lead of 182 runs.

India improved on their efforts and posted 324 runs in the second dig. The target now for Australia was only 143 runs. The visitors were handicapped as Shivlal Yadav, Dileep Doshi and Kapil Dev were all injured. Only fit bowler, Karsan Ghavri, struck twice on the fourth day and Australia was 24/3 at the stumps.

The following day, Kapil Dev took the field after having taken several pain-killing injections. The Haryana Hurricane pulled off the ‘Melbourne Miracle’ and his spell of 5/28 sent Australia crashing down to 83 all out. After having been outplayed in the series and on all four days, India’s 59-run win at Melbourne was a dream affair. It remains India’s last Test victory at the majestic ground.

#3 Sourav Ganguly’s masterclass of 144 runs at the Gabba: 2003-04

Sourav Ganguly

The Brisbane Cricket Ground at Woolloongabba enjoys the reputation of being Australia’s fortress. It had become a routine for the Australian team to trounce the opposition at Gabba in the very first Test of the series and push the opposition on the backfoot straightaway. The 2003-04 series was no different and India faced a green-top deck in its opening Test.

Fortunately, Sourav Ganguly won the toss for India and inserted Australia to bat first. Pace bowlers Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar exploited the conditions effectively and shared all wickets between them. Langer’s 121 at the top helped the home side post 324 runs in the first inning.

India enjoyed a solid opening partnership as Aakash Chopra and Virender Sehwag posted 60 without any loss. Nathan Bracken and Jason Gillespie killed the advantage of the batting side as they struck thrice. When Sourav Ganguly faced his first ball, the team was struggling at 62/3 with Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar both dismissed.

The Indian captain played the inning of his life to take his side into a position of strength. Ganguly’s 144 was then the highest score by an Indian skipper in Australia. The inning helped his team salvage a draw and remain alive in the series. Later Dravid’s epic batsmanship in Adelaide carried India to a miraculous away win as the Asian giants equalled the series.

#2 India avenges Sydney humiliation with Perth triumph (2007-08)

India's spectacular triumph at Perth

Anil Kumble’s men were beaten fair and square in the first Test at Melbourne. However, things took an ugly turn in the second Test played at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Unethical play from Australia and poor umpiring left India fuming in the lost Test. The pain of the loss was aggravated by the charges levied on Harbhajan Singh for racial abuse.

In such unsavoury circumstances, India began its toughest Test. The WACA pitch at Perth was renowned for its pace and bounce. Australia’s bowling attack which consisted of Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Stuart Clark, was licking its lips to have a smack at the Indians. India chose to bat first against such hostile bowlers and posted 330 as Rahul Dravid top-scored with 93 runs.

Indian bowling unit spearheaded by RP Singh rose to the occasion. Australia was all out for only 212 runs as India gained a significant lead of 118 runs. Another sterling batting effort helped the visitors set a stiff target of 413 runs. The home team fought hard but eventually fell 72 runs short and India clinched a memorable win.

The spectacular triumph at Perth instilled enormous confidence in the Indian team. The Asian team secured a draw in the next Test and returned from the Australian shores with their heads held high.

#1 Virat Kohli displays the first sign of greatness in whites (2011-12)

Virat Kohli

India’s 2011-12 tour to Australia was considered to be India’s best chance of achieving their maiden series win down under. The World Champions were whitewashed in England, but their hopes were ambitious. The Australian side was perceived to be a weaker one. The perception was wiped away as India trailed 0-2 after the first two Tests.

One of the talking points from the disastrous performance was the failure of Virat Kohli. The young 23-year old batsman had scored only 43 runs in the first four innings and there were doubts over him continuing in the side. The champion scripted a remarkable return in the most adverse conditions.

India was asked to bat first at the WACA Ground, Perth in the third Test. Mitchell Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle sent back the stalwarts like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, but Virat Kohli stood tall. He was the top-scorer with 44 in India’s total of 161 all out.

In the second innings, India was bundled for 171 runs. Once again Virat outscored all his teammates with a knock of 75. The performance cemented Kohli’s place in the side for the final Test at Adelaide. The Delhi batsman then registered his maiden Test century and also scored the only century by an Indian batsman on that tour.