Australia won three of their first four Test series in India --- one ended in a draw. But after they won the last of those, in 1969, it was a 35-year wait before they could taste a series success in India. Indian spinner did them in, and here are five of the inequal battles:
1969: Holding out against spin
The Bill Lawry-led Australia, with Ian Chappell batting at No 3 --- a brilliant player of spin --- clinched the series 3-1 by winning the last two matches in the five-game affair. However, it was a series to remember for the famed spin attack of Bishan Singh Bedi (21), Erapalli Prasanna (26) and S Venkataraghavan (12) who shared 59 wickets in the five-Test series. Australia were overall superior and fast bowler Graham ‘Gentle Giant’ McKenzie and leg spinner John Gleeson all played important roles in the visitors’ triumph.
1979 Too weak to resist
An Australia team led by Kim Hughes had been weakened due to the absence of stars Greg Chappell, Rod Marsh and Dennis Lillee, and it came as no surprise that they only lost the six-Test series 2-0. The Indian bowling attack had spearhead Kapil Dev and Karsan Ghavri, but the visiting batsmen with little experience in their ranks, struggled against left-arm spinner Dilip Doshi (27 wickets in 6 Tests), and off-spinners Shivlal Yadav (24 wickets in 5 Tests)and S Venkatraghavan (6 scalps in 3 Tests).
1998: Battle of the leggies
The series was billed as Sachin Tendulkar versus Shane Warne. The Aussie leg spinner took 10 wickets but the Indian talisman won the duel, inspiring the hosts to a 2-0 series lead before Australia managed a consolation win. Anil Kumble won the battle of leg spinners. claiming 23 scalps as accuracy and clever variations trumped classical spin, supported by left-arm Venkatapathy Raju. Ricky Ponting flopped on his first India tour, falling to Raju for 18 and 2 in the first Test, and to Kumble for 60 and 9 in his next two innings.
2001: The Terminator strikes
Australia were supposed to extend their world record of 16 victories, but they were stopped in their tracks by Harbhajan Singh’s bamboozling spin bowling. India roared back to win the series after losing the first Test by 10 wickets. Bhajji, who took 32 wickets, left Ponting almost a mental wreck, dismissing him for 0, 6, 0, 0, 11 in the five innings he batted. The offie’s spin and bounce repeatedly left the Aussie lunging in vain.
2013: Sir Jadeja rises
Australia skipper Michael Clarke had made a stunning Test debut nine years earlier, scoring a big century in Bengaluru. The visitors had lost the previous two series, but Clarke’s hopes of reversing the slide were dashed by Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Clarke hit a century in the first Test and 91 in the second, but the visitors were routed 4-0. The left-arm spinner made Clarke his bunny, dismissing the Aussie skipper five of the six times he was out.